Former Wales rugby forward Gareth Williams dies aged 63 - Ruck

Former Wales rugby forward Gareth Williams dies aged 63

The former Cardiff College of Education, Bridgend, Wales and British & Irish Lions back-row forward Gareth Williams has lost his long battle with the debilitating disease, Multiple System Atrophy, and has died aged 63.

A highly mobile and skilful player at No 8 or No 7, he played for the Lions while still an uncapped player and became a legendary figure at the Brewery Field over almost a decade. Capped five times by Wales, he was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 and had been bed ridden since 2017. He bore his illness with huge courage, resilience and dignity.

He played in four consecutive Schweppes Cup finals for Bridgend between 1979-1982 and helped the Ravens triumph in the first two. He scored a try in the 15-9 win over Swansea in 1980 and was named the Lloyd Lewis Award winner as the man of the match.

He joined Bridgend after developing his career at Cardiff College of Education and helped the Ravens win the Western Mail Championship in the 1980/81 season and then featured in the 12-9 win over the touring Wallabies at the Brewery Field in October, 1981. Three years earlier he had been in the Bridgend side beaten 17-6 by the All Blacks. He played for Wales B against France in 1978, 1979 and 1980 and toured with Wales B in the USA in 1980.

It was on that tour that he received the call to join up with the Lions in South Africa following the unfortunate injury to fellow Welshman Stuart Lane in the opening game of the tour. He played in the back row in six tour games and scored tries against South African Country and Griqualand West. The Lions won all six matches in which he played and he described that tour as “my greatest rugby memory.”

His Welsh international cap followed in the centenary season of the WRU when he played in the game against the All Blacks in Cardiff in November of the same year. He then won four more caps up to 1982.

Rugby coursed through the blood of the Williams family as Gareth’s brother Owain also played for Bridgend, as well as Cardiff, and gained a solitary Welsh cap against Namibia on a tour to Southern Africa in 1990.

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