Roger Addison, the former Pontypool prop who broke his neck in 1966 and remained in hospital ever since, has died at the age of 65.
He suffered the crippling injury playing for Pontypool in Rugby and it was said that had it not been for the attendance of their club president, who was a doctor and was able to give him resuscitation treatment, he would have died on the pitch.
He was taken to the specialist unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital where he spent the next few years before being transferred to Rookwood Hospital in Cardiff, remaining there for the rest of his life until he was recently moved to the Heath Hospital.
Bob Jeremiah, the long serving Pontypool secretary until standing down for health reasons, used to visit Addison regularly. "Roger was told that no person who suffered that type of neck injury lived more than three years, but he was brilliant," he said.
"He couldn't move from the neck down and could only whisper so we had to lip read, but he always asked about Pontypool and the players. He was presented with a photograph of the Welsh team who won the Grand Slam in 2005 signed by all the players which he had hung over his bed in hospital.
"He was capped by Wales at youth level against France and I went over with him. He was a good player who had a bright future in the game. Though he couldn't move he had a wonderful sense of humour and he once told me he could run faster than a particular Pontypool winger. And he joked a few years ago about how he qualified for a bus pass."
Addison had five sisters and a brother, not all of them still alive today. Sister Barbara Owen, who lives in Pontypool, said: "He was a wonderful player and though he was in hospital for 44 years he still kept us all together. He battled for all that time, but he just couldn't fight any more.
Nearly 40 players were involved in the first Wales Under 18 training session of the season. WRU National Performance Manager Gethin Watts is excited at the potential shown by the group and expects the Regional Under 18 Championship to hone their skills even further.