Thursday, November 01, 2007

Welshman of the day

Ray Gravell, who died suddenly yesterday.

Mainstay of the Welsh Grand-Slam-winning teams of the late 1970s, British Lion and stalwart of Llanelli for many years. The centre partnership is perhaps the least-celebrated bit of the legendary Welsh teams of the late 1970s golden era (1976 through 1978 in particular), although the partnership of Steve Fenwick and Gravell (with occasional contributions from Roy Bergiers and David Burcher in the event of injuries) was an important one, and prefigures modern centre partnerships quite closely: Fenwick at inside centre the skilful footballer and distributor (and handy back-up goalkicker), and Gravell at outside centre the big aggressive battering ram in attack and thumping tackler in defence.

Following his retirement in the mid-1980s Gravell carved out a second career as an actor, indeed he may be one of the few British Lions to have his own IMDB page. Which reveals that he starred in 1992's Damage, which I've seen, although I can't recall his appearance in it. I expect I was probably distracted by a naked Juliette Binoche.

More recently he became a commentator for BBC and S4C and had been battling diabetes for some years, eventually having a leg amputated earlier this year.

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