Malcolm Thomas, the man who scored the try that ended Wales' 39 year wait for an eighth Triple Crown, has died. His death came on Monday, 9 April 9 in Burnham, Buckinghamshire, when he was 17 days short of his 83rd birthday.
Corner-flaggers streamed across like a cloud of locusts. They hit Thomas as he dived for the corner. Down everyone crashed, corner flag and all. Was it a try? - John Billott
First capped as a teenager against France in 1949, his first moment of glory with Wales came in the Triple Crown clash with Ireland in Belfast on 11 March, 1950. The scores were tired at 3-3 with the Ravenhill clock showing a mere three minutes left to play.
Wales had beaten England at Twickenham and Scotland at St Helen's and were seeking a first Triple Crown since 1911. Thomas was on the left wing, waiting for his chance.
Former Western Mail rugby correspondent John Billott takes up the story: "Ireland heeled in their own 25. Jackie Kyle was bound to clear to touch. But Ray Cale pounced round the scrum to harass Carroll. As the scrum half desperately shovelled the ball out ot Kyle, Cale went with it. The ball rolled loose. Cleaver picked up and fed Lewis Jones: the winning try was taking shape.
"Lewis Jones, in his new position of centre, drew full back Norton and sent a long pass swinging out to Malcolm Thomas. There were 15 yards to go as the Welsh wing threw back his head and ran for the Triple Crown.
"Corner-flaggers streamed across like a cloud of locusts. They hit Thomas as he dived for the corner. Down everyone crashed, corner flag and all. Was it a try? There were agonising, hour-long seconds before referee RA Beattie (Scotland) raised his arm and Wales had won.
"If Irish touch-judge Ossie Glasgow had signalled that Thomas had knocked down the flag before grounding the ball there would have been few Welsh protests. It was a marginal decision either way."
Wales went on to complete their first Grand Slam since 1911 with a home win over France and Thomas also played in all four matches in the 1952 Grand Slam campaign.
One of the most versatile players of his era, he played centre, wing and outside half for Wales in 27 internationals between1949-59. He also played at wing, centre, outside half and full back for the British & Irish Lions on two tours Down Under in 1950 and 1959.
He captained Wales twice in 1957 and ended with two Grand Slams, two Triple Crowns and three outright Five Nations title wins in his outstanding career. He also scored 152 points in 32 matches for the Lions, playing in four Tests.
Born in Machen on 25 April, 1929, he was named after the world land speed record holder Malcolm Campbell. He attended Bassaleg School and won international honours for Wales Schools at both rugby and cricket.
He trained as a teacher at Caerleon Training College before joining the Royal Navy as an Instructor-Lieutenant on HMS Raleigh. He captained both Devonport Services and the Navy, leading the latter to the Inter-Services title in 1951/52, and also found time to play rugby and cricket for Cornwall during his time in the west country.
He made his Cornish cricket debut at The Oval alongside Lewis Jones against Surrey 2nd X1. He opened the bowling, scored 56 in the second innings and ended up with 158 runs from six innings in four Minor Counties Championship matches.
Having captained Devonport Services for two seasons, Thomas returned to Wales and skippered Newport for three seasons. Under his guidance the club won the Welsh Club Championship in 1955/6 as they lost only five of their 40 matches. He also led Monmouthshire to the Welsh Counties title.
A Newport stalwart in one of their greatest periods, he played 276 times for the Black and Ambers, scoring 342 points and 79 tries. He played for the club against the Springboks, All Blacks and Wallabies, helping them to beat the 1957 Australians, and was also in the team that won inaugural Snelling Sevens title in 1954.
He was the youngest player selected for the 1950 Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia, although his great friend from Devonport Services and the Royal Navy, Lewis Jones, took over the mantle of the 'baby' of the party when he joined as a replacement.
He played in 15 games on his first Lions tour, scoring 96 points, and played in two Tests defeats in New Zealand and one victory in Australia. He became an instant hit, and record breaker, in the opening game against a Combined Nelson-Marlborough-Golden Bay-Motueka XV at Trafalgar Park, Nelson.
Playing at wing he landed a Lions record six penalties in the win and gathered a record 21 points by also adding a near length of the field try. He did the same thing in the first game in Australia, when the Lions beat New South Wales Country 47-3.
This time playing at centre, he kicked six conversions, scored two tries and added a penalty to match his record haul of 21 points against the Combined XV in New Zealand. That record stood until 1959 when lightning struck for the second time for the Combined XV.
A broken leg in a pre-season trial match in 1954 had cost Thomas any chance of challenging for a place on the 1955 Lions tour to South Africa, but he was still in good enough form in the 1958/59 season to be chosen as the one 30+ player in the tour party - and the only survivor from 1950.
This time he played 17 times in New Zealand Australia, scoring 56 points and picking up another Test cap against the All Blacks. When the Lions arrived in Blenheim, to face the same Combined Nelson-Marlborough-Golden Bay-Motueka XV that Thomas had put to the sword nine years earlier, they gave the Newport all-rounder the honour of captaining the side from full back.
Having seen Ireland's David Hewitt equal his record of 21 points in a match twice on the trip, against Queensland and Hawke's Bay, he reasserted himself by scoring 25 points. He converted eight of the Lions' 13 tries and also kicked three penalties in a record 64-5 victory.
Those eight conversions surpassed the seven kicked by Lewis Jones in the end of tour win over Ceylon in 1950 to give him another record. His points and conversion records were finally beaten by England's Alan Old in South Africa in 1974, when he scored 36 points, including 15 conversions, against South West Districts in a massive 97-0 win for the Lions.
He toured South Africa with the Barbarians in 1958 and also played for Crawshay's. He left Wales to live and work in Beaconsfield, where he became a highly successful businessman working in the paper industry, and became the director of many companies, including RCC and Smurfit UK.
His wife Gwendoline died in 1997. He leaves a son and a daughter.
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