Mike Jefferies, a lawyer who played a powerful and leading role within the administration of Welsh rugby as Head of Legal Affairs for the WRU, has died after recently being diagnosed with cancer. He was 61.
He had worked closely with the WRU as a legal advisor for many years before joining the union full time as part of the senior management team in 2007.
Mike Jefferies offered advice and guidance to senior WRU executive officers during some of the most high profile issues and changes within Welsh rugby for more than two decades.
He was renowned for his depth of legal knowledge and ability to offer sound and statesmanlike advice combined with a passionate interest in the game.
Before joining the WRU he was a partner with the law firm Hugh James in Cardiff where one of his most high profile projects was overseeing the legal detail of the contract to fund and complete the building of the Millennium Stadium.
In his role at the WRU, as well as being Head of Legal Affairs, he joined the Executive Board as Company Secretary.
Mike Jefferies lived in Cardiff with his wife, Catrin, and they both shared a deep interest in supporting the game at Principality Premiership Division, Regional and international level. They were debenture seat holders at the Millennium Stadium and season ticket holders for the Cardiff Blues.
The WRU Group Chief Executive, Roger Lewis, said:"We have lost a great friend and a fine colleague who made an enormous contribution to Welsh rugby down the years.
"He was undoubtedly one of the key figures in the administration of the game and his sound and expert advice was vitally important in shaping our strategies and professional relationships.
"Since joining the Union, as Head of Legal Affairs, it is fair to say he has helped the organisation make enormous strides in realising the importance of up to date procedure within corporate responsibility.
"Mike was a quiet and unassuming colleague whose courteous demeanour and total commitment to hard work and professionalism was complemented by a great intelligence and subtle sense of humour.
"He never raised his voice, but could make a colossal impact on any debate with just a few well chosen words. I will personally miss his wise counsel and friendship enormously and I offer my deepest condolences to his wife, Catrin."
The Chairman of the WRU, David Pickering, said:"We have lost an excellent colleague and a true friend.
"Mike was totally professional at all times and his input was enhanced by his total commitment and loyalty to Welsh rugby.
"I know my colleagues on the Board of the Welsh Rugby Union and everyone who knew Mike across the game, will all want me to add their condolences to the many expressions of sorrow we have received.
"The value of his contribution is that he made a genuine difference with his wise and professional advice. He has left an important legacy within the structures and systems which administer our national sport."
The President of the Welsh Rugby Union, Dennis Gethin, added:"Mike was a highly professional and intelligent individual who was also an extremely caring and courteous man.
"His contribution to Welsh Rugby may have been out of sight of the public gaze but that in no way diminishes its importance. He was a vital cog in the administrative machine which has governed and shaped our game from its amateur days into the professional era. He will be sadly missed."
Gareth Williams, senior partner of Hugh James, added:"Mike was one of the finest solicitors of his generation in South Wales. He was extraordinarily hard working and wholly committed to his clients. He was a brilliant lawyer and a man of great integrity. But more than that, he was also a wise, kind and generous man, as his many friends and colleagues will testify."
Mike Jefferies was born in Crickhowell and educated at King Henry VIII school in Abergavenny before studying law at University College London.
He joined the Hugh James law firm in 1969 and became a partner in 1972 as soon as he qualified as a solicitor.
During his legal career he featured in both the Legal 500 and the Chambers Guide to the legal profession.
During his career at Hugh James his clients included the University of Aberystwyth, Glamorgan County Cricket Club, Welsh Water Dwr Cymru, The Environment Agency and Cardiff council.
He also enjoyed more than 30 years as a supporter and member of the Cardiff Athletic Club.
Mike Jefferies, who died on Sunday, August the 30th, 2009 is survived by his wife, Catrin.
His funeral service will take place at 3pm at the St Denys Church in Lisvane, Cardiff on Friday September 11 and then at Thornhill Crematorium in Cardiff at 4.15pm.
The Wales Women's team headed to Dare Valley Country Park on a team bonding exercise as the entire squad got together for the very first time in preparation for this season's Six Nations championship which kicks off on Saturday with a clash against defending champions Ireland, in Donnybrook.
Wales Head Coach Warren Gatland discusses his team selection for the opening round of the RBS 6 Nations where he leads his side against Ireland, on Sunday. As WRU TV's Luke Brodley discovers, Gatland is fully aware of the challenges the defending champions pose
WRUTV caught up with Wales Women captain Rachel Taylor at the RBS 6 Nations launch and how a good crowd really helps boost the girls performance. Tickets for all three Women's home games at The Gnoll, Neath are available from www.wru.wales/tickets