Thinking and talking about rugby every day for 50+ years
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'US President Gerald Ford's golf was so bad we thought he was a 'Hitman for the PGA!'
'An optimist sees the doughnut; the pessimist sees the whole.'
'The other man's arse is always cleaner!'
'You've got to get your first tackle in early, even if it's late!'
'No doubt about it, in my career Ron Lyle hit me the hardest. One time he hit me so hard I didn't see it until I saw it on film when I woke up!'
'I have found in my time moving around sports grounds - that the knowledge of the game from the crowd is usually in inverse proportion to the price of the seats.'
'I never stole nuttin' unless it began with an 'A' - A truck, a car, a payroll...!'
'Rugby is three things; its ballet, opera and bloody murder!'
From American motivational speaker Paul J.Meyer; 'Whatever you vividly imagine; Ardently desire; Sincerely believe in and Enthusiastically act upon must inevitably come to pass.'
'I always try to remember that praise and a slap on your back is only 6 inches away from a kick up the arse!'
'God somehow makes sure that in international rugby nobody wins ALL the time!'
'To prepare for a really big match you don't have to be in a good mood, or even a bad mood...you just have to be in the right mood!'
And on a damp Friday the ABs passed 50 points in a test for the first time; they beat Italy 70-6 with John Kirwan running 75 metres to score, untouched.
Swansea and Wales
26 internationals for Wales 1949–59
2 internationals for British Isles 1955
One of the finest loose forwards Wales produced in the post World War II era, who later became one of the best writers on the game. His full name was Richard Clement Charles Thomas, but from his earliest days the shortened ‘Clem’ was a welcome diminutive.
A tough flanker, he was a ‘Swansea Jack’ through and through, who first made the Welsh team for its end-of-season international against France in Paris in 1949. France won narrowly by 5–3, in what was a battle to avoid last place in the championship. Thomas paid the price for what some in Wales saw as a premature selection (he was only 20 years old) and he was not asked to play internationally again for two seasons.
He was recalled in 1952 as part of the Grand Slam-winning Welsh team and continued to represent Wales until 1959. He toured South Africa as part of the 1955 Lions team, but appendicitis restricted him to two of the four test matches.
Thomas was Welsh captain in his last two seasons, 1957–58 and 1958–59, and was tipped as a possible captain of the British Lions to New Zealand in 1959. Perhaps it was Wales’s modest record in the 1958–59 season which held him back from winning that honour.
When Thomas retired, the butcher became a successful businessman, as well as writing for the Guardian and the Observer with much distinction.
When discussions about Clem Thomas arise in Welsh rugby he is invariably remembered as the player who put in the famous cross-kick against New Zealand in Cardiff in 1953. Thomas was close to the touchline on one side of the field, and, seeing his way ahead blocked by All Blacks, he kicked the ball on an angle towards the goal posts. The two rival wings, arguably the fastest two men in world rugby at that time, Ron Jarden of New Zealand and Ken Jones of Wales, were both standing clear of any other players. When Thomas’s kick landed, it bounced perfectly into the hands of Jones and he sprinted in for a winning try. As the kicker of the ball Thomas was acclaimed as a hero for Wales, and in the years afterwards, he often reflected how his life might have changed had the ball bounced the other way into the hands of Jarden, the flying All Black!
Which international rugby player who went to two Rugby World Cups also won two Olympic Games Gold Medals and 2 World Championship bronze medals in a chosen 'other' sport?