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OBITUARY: Haydn Morris

Haydn Morris, the former Cardiff and Wales wing who toured South Africa with the 1955 British & Irish Lions has died at the age of 92 in Norwich.

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The Mountain Ash-born Morris won three caps for Wales on the wing and scored two tries. His international debut came in Paris in an 8-3 defeat to the French in the final game of the 1951 Five Nations Championship.

He had to wait four years before making his final two appearances, scoring a try in each. He scored the fourth and final try in the 21-3 win over the Irish in Cardiff before gaining his revenge on the French with another touchdown in Paris to earn Wales a 16-11 victory.

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That triumph dashed French hopes of a first Grand Slam and meant they had to share the Five Nations title with Wales. Those two performances were good enough to earn him a ticket to South Africa as one of 11 Welsh players who made the trip and drew the Test series with the Springboks.

He made an immediate impact on tour, scoring a hat-trick on his Lions debut against Griqualand West in Kimberley in 24-14 triumph. He scored nine tries in eight games before an ankle injury in the win over Central Universities in Durban in the 14th game of the tour ruled him out of action for the remainder of the trip.

At that stage he was very much in the running for a Test appearance, but had to kick his heels for the final 11 games between 10 August and 28 September. It wasn’t the first time injury had ruined his chances of playing in big matches.

In 1953, he was injured playing for Cardiff against Bath at the end of September and didn’t get back into action until the middle of January, 1954. That meant he missed out on the chance of playing for Cardiff and Wales in their wins over the touring All Blacks.

He learned his rugby at Mountain Ash Grammar School and at Mountain Ash. He made a 300-mile pilgrimage to the ‘Old Firm’ in 2015 to unveil an honours board at his home town club on which he was the only British Lion and one of 11 Welsh internationals.

“I feel very privileged to be on that board with so many other great players. Mountain Ash gave me my rugby training and started my career – I will never forget that,” Morris said at the unveiling.

From school he went to Bangor Normal College to train to be a PE teacher. He was their rugby captain in 1949-50 before switching to Cardiff Training College, in Cyncoed, for his final year of education.

Back on home soil in the Welsh capital he joined Cardiff RFC and became an instant hit on the wing playing in a back line that was filled with global stars. He had Bleddyn Williams and Jack Matthews at centre, Cliff Morgan at outside half and Rex Willis at scrum half.

Gwyn Rowlands and Gareth Griffiths were further back line internationals and he played alongside Morgan and Griffiths on the 1955 Lions tour. He played for Cardiff against the 1951 Springboks and the British Lions in a celebration game that same season.
He appeared in his first Welsh Trial for the Probables in the 1950-51 season and stayed in the senior side for the two remaining trials before winning his first cap at the end of the season. He also played once for the Barbarians, against East Midlands in 1953
He scored nine hat-tricks in his 129 appearances for the Blue & Blacks, running in five tries in a big win over Plymouth Albion in the 1953-54 season. He led the try charts in his first three seasons at the club, scoring 18, 25 and 26 times, and ended with 101 tries overall for the club.

He was the sports master and 1st XV coach at Barry Boys’ Grammar School between 1952-60 before heading to Norwich in the mid-sixties to take over as head of PE at the City College. He then moved on to the University of East Anglia as director of sport.
He coached the Norfolk RFC 1st XV for a few years, and also chaired their disciplinary committee. Born on 14 July, 1928, he was the fourth oldest surviving Welsh international before his death.

The WRU would like to offer its sincerest condolences to the family and friends of Haydn Morris.

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