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Cliff recalls his rugby playing days

Posted on 1 February 2014  - 09:10

Watching the Welsh rugby team in today’s Six Nations opener against Italy will probably bring back memories for our legendary winger Cliff Jones – after all, he played the game himself!

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The dictionary definition of ‘sportsman’, Cliff took the unusual step of changing disciplines after a glittering football career that included his participation in our famous Double-winning side of 1961 – swapping the spherical ball for an egg-shaped one to play for Saracens.

It was quite a change of scenery from the one the Welsh flier had been used to, having played football for over 20 years and won numerous trophies.

He transferred to Fulham and, later, King’s Lynn following his departure from White Hart Lane in 1968 having given us a decade’s fantastic service. But it was his move to Saracens that was arguably his most monumental post-Spurs switch.

“To be honest I got a bit fed up with football and I used to go and watch the Sarries play,” Cliff explained to us. “I was up there one Saturday watching them against Bridgend and a couple of boys said ‘how’s the football going?’ and I said I’d packed it in, so they said ‘well come and have a game of rugby!’

“I said ‘you’re joking, aren’t you?’ – but I did!

“I went up there and I played for the seniors, the vets. I played for just about a season or so as a winger and I liked to think of myself as another Barry John!”

Cliff was nearing 40 years old by the time he took up rugby – having accumulated a marvellous haul of silverware from his time playing football at the Lane. He had been an integral part of our much-revered Double-winning side, going on to win further FA Cups in 1962 and 1967 – plus the European Cup Winners’ Cup in 1963.

He admitted nobody in his family had previously played rugby – so what persuaded him to accept his unexpected invitation to swap sports?

“Being Welsh, it’s somewhere in the blood isn’t it?” he added. “It is the Welsh national sport, we can’t argue about that!

“I still keep an eye on the Saracens and the Welsh national team, of course. I’m still fairly local so I always like to look for the results and see how the Sarries are getting on.”