Pontypool RFC legend Ray Prosser, who featured for Wales and the Lions, has died aged 93.
The former prop featured for his country 22 times between 1956-1961 and for the Lions in 1959 on their tour of Australia and New Zealand – with his only Lions Test appearance being a win against the All Blacks – but his heart was always in Pontypool.
He was the architect of extraordinary success during 18 years as the club’s coach during the 1970s and 1980s. During that golden era, he helped Pooler become Welsh champions on five occasions, top the Merit Table seven times and lift the WRU National Cup in 1983. The packs Prosser built became feared through the British Isles.
A statement from Pontypool RFC issued on Sunday evening said: “It is with immense sadness and devastation that Pontypool RFC today can confirm the passing of the legendary Ray Prosser.
“Without question, Ray will be forever regarded as the most influential figure in Pontypool RFC history.
“We will be issuing a full tribute worthy of Ray’s incredible contribution to Pontypool RFC and Welsh rugby [on Monday] morning, but our immediate thoughts are with Ray’s family during this exceptionally sad time.”
As well as his beloved Pooler, he also played a crucial role in building the careers of a number of Welsh rugby stars.
Graham Price learned his trade under Prosser, while Bobby Windsor, Charlie Faulkner and Terry Cobner also featured in one of the all-time great packs moulded by the man they knew simply as ‘Pross’.
David Bishop, capped once for Wales, joined Pontypool in 1981 and worked wonderfully well for a man who became his rugby mentor.
Former Wales international Mark Ring, who figured alongside Bishop at Pontypool, wrote on Twitter: “Bish just informed me of the very sad passing of Ray Prosser.
“There is sure to be a statue built at Pontypool Park in his memory. An absolute giant of a personality whose presence will be forever missed and who will never be forgotten. RIP Ray.”
Welsh Charitables RFC, which raises funds for various charities across Wales, said: “It’s with great sadness that we’ve heard of the passing of one of our vice presidents, a true legend of Welsh rugby, former Pontypool RFC, Barbarian FC, Wales and Lions player Ray Prosser.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. Cysg’an dawel Ray”.