Captained Pooler for ten consecutive seasons from 1970 to 1979. A fearsome flanker from up the Rhondda, he was sent off inside the first five minutes of the start of league rugby as Ponty were reduced to 13 men at Stradey. Recognised as one of the finest players of his generation never to win a cap for Wales, the fearless flanker led the all-conquering ‘Pooler pack from the front during the late 1980s. As if working down the mine wasn’t demanding enough, he also spent a decade in the Welsh boiler-house, winning 32 caps at lock, where he was a granite like presence.
His aggression got this anti-establishment figure in trouble at times, but what a player. 2. Raised in Waikato, the Kiwi back rower was brought over to Wales by Newbridge and went to win 24 caps for his adopted country. A teak-hard prop who was renowned for his brutally powerful scrummaging, he formed an all-Welsh Lions Test front row, along with Billy Williams and Bryn Meredith, on the 1955 tour of South Africa - something that didn’t happen again until 2009. Who else? A born-again Christian, he’s done fantastic work for charity and as a junior coach up in the Rhondda. When you subscribe we will use the information you provide to send you these newsletters. The face of the notorious Ponty pack of the early 1990s. Became a landlord. A regular in the Wales team during the 1960s he captained his country as well as his beloved Scarlets. The elder brother of Paul, provoking the question which sibling was the harder? One of the most-loved figures in Welsh rugby and a real gentlemen off the pitch. Nicknamed “Om the Bomb”, he was the stuff of nightmares. The leader of the ‘Valley Commandos’, Baz was an uncompromising prop who didn’t stand on ceremony on the pitch and was a real character off it with his love of motorcycling. Forged in steelworks, hewn from the coal-face, many of Welsh rugby’s hard men have always shown their mettle on and off the field. For Pontypool in the 1970s, read Neath in the 1960s. “That bloke Price was a real hard hut. An abrasive, no-nonsense lock, the nine-times capped Moseley literally overstepped the mark against France in 1990 when he was sent off for stamping, an offence that earned him a 32-week ban. After winning his solitary Welsh cap against France in 1956, this colourful Cross Keys forward went on to become a death-defying stunt man in Hollywood and appeared in The Wild Women of Wongo, voted one of the worst films ever made! In 2002, he was voted into the all-time greatest Welsh XV at blind-side flanker. Yet another man who made the switch to league, but it was in the 15-man code that he had his greatest days as a ball-carrying No 8 totem. The son of a past international Glyn Stephens, he went on the 1950 Lions tour of Australasia.
Provided the back row ballast and a massive worker in the tight who was hugely appreciated by his colleagues. Nicknamed The Steel Claw for his legendary mauling ability, this rugged flanker didn’t start playing rugby until leaving the Merchant Navy at 20, but made up for lost time, starring in the 1977 Triple Crown campaign and being named Wales player of the year in 1981.
Where others wilted, strongman centre Devereux stood up to the mighty All Blacks in the 1987 World Cup, even though he was only 21. Resembled a pirate with his long, flowing locks and was made to walk the plank on more than one occasion by referees who took exception to his skullduggery, or should that be skull & crossbones-duggery.
His piston-pump hand-off became his trademark and it served him well on his move to the hard man world of rugby league. Provided tunsteng-like strength in the centre for Ponty during their glory days of the 1990s. A central figure as hooker in the invincible Lions pack on the tour of South Africa in 1974, when the Springboks forwards had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the scrums such was the tattering they were taking in the tight fron Bobby & Co. One of the great characters in the game, with an endless supply of stories, as his autobiography “The Iron Duke” confirms. Immortalised in song by Max Boyce through his role as part of the legendary Pontypool front row, whose motto was “We may go down, we may go up, but we never go back”. Our sister website, MyLondon, has also compiled a list of the 20 hardest English rugby players to have ever lived, which you can read here. A steelworker by trade, The Duke was as fiery as the furnaces he used to tend. Coached in Cornwall after hanging up boots. Dubbed the “Ayatollah” during his bearded days as Neath’s innovative and outspoken supremo, Thomas had been a fearsome opponent during his playing days. Our. Despite being told he would never play again, he was back at scrum-half for Pooler within a year. But Dr Jack held him to a draw when they met in an amateur bout in 1943. Let’s just defer to seniority on that one! The centre was dubbed the “Iron Man” by the Kiwis after the 1950 Lions tour of New Zealand. Captained Ponty to Welsh Cup glory in 1996 and will always be a hero at Sardis Road. One of the most feared back-row forwards of his day in the late 60s and early 70s, this destructive openside flanker was known as “The Bearded Wonder”. Rocky Marciano ended his boxing career having won every one of his pro fights. When he dies, his grave stone will read ‘What you looking at?” One of the world’s greatest tight-heads, Price won a remarkable 12 Test caps for the Lions. Opponents used to be beaten before they went out on the field, with one look from Perky in the tunnel telling them all they needed to know about what was in store for them. Not the biggest, but had a huge heart and consistently punched above his weight. Known throughout the game as The Chief, he was a real warrior, famous for his part in the Battle of Brive and THAT tackle on Bath's Andy Robinson.