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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 November 2006, 15:59 GMT
Welsh rugby chief Rowlands dies
Keith Rowlands
Rowlands had a distinguished career as player and administrator
Former Wales and Lions lock and current Welsh Rugby Union president Keith Rowlands has died age 70.

Brithdir-born Rowlands had a distinguished playing career with Cardiff, Llanelli and London Welsh, winning five Wales caps from 1962-5.

He started three Tests on the 1962 Lions tour to South Africa, as well as the non-cap Lions match with Kenya.

He was later coach and administrator at Cardiff and the International Rugby Board's first chief executive, 1988-96.

Rowlands went on to become a director of Rugby World Cup, overseeing the 1999 tournament in Wales.

Keith was a man of real stature, both as a player on the field and as an administrator

WRU Chairman David Pickering

He served as a Wales selector, sat on the WRU committee, and succeeded Sir Tasker Watkins to become the 47th President in 2004.

Perhaps Rowlands' most famous moment as a player came in the second Test of the 1962 Lions tour.

The tourists had drawn the first Test 3-3 and were trailing in the second at King's Park, Durban.

Rowlands crashed over for what looked an equalising try, but it was ruled out and the Springboks ran out 3-0 winners.

He missed the third Test in Cape Town, won 8-3 by the home side, but returned for the final international in Bloemfontein and scored a consolation try as the Boks eased to a 34-14 victory.

"This is a huge blow for Welsh rugby and obviously a terrible tragedy for Keith's family," said WRU Chairman David Pickering.

"The thoughts of everyone involved in the game, in Wales and across the world, will be with his wife Joanne, their children and grandchildren.

Keith will leave a huge void at the top of the game in Wales

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis

"Keith was a man of real stature, both as a player on the field and as an administrator with the WRU and the IRB.

"He took over as President of the WRU from Sir Tasker Watkins in 2004 and had made some telling contributions in that role. He will be sorely missed."

WRU Group Chief Executive Roger Lewis said: "Keith will leave a huge void at the top of the game in Wales.

"He was a man of impeccable integrity and someone who commanded huge respect.

"He was returned unopposed as chairman once again this year and this will be a bitter blow to the WRU family of clubs.

"However, the greatest loss will be felt within his family and our sincerest condolences go to them at this difficult time.

"His CV as both player and administrator shows the calibre of the man. He will be remembered as one of Welsh rugby's all-round greats."

  • There will be a full tribute paid to Keith Rowlands at the Wales v New Zealand game at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday, 25 November.

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