The President of the WRU, Sir Tasker Watkins, worked closely with Vernon in both his rugby life and in his role as one of Wales' leading barristers. Here is Sir Tasker's personal tribute to a remarkable Welshman.
SIR TASKER WATKINS' TRIBUTE
"Vernon was, and had been for the last few years, the most significant and powerful man in international rugby. He was involved in encouraging many countries to play rugby union and to become members of the International Rugby Board so that by the time he was forced to hand over the reigns on the onset of this dreadful disease he could say that he had significantly enlarged the international rugby body.
"As a Welshman, he made the biggest impact on world rugby of anyone from our proud sporting nation outside the playing arena. We are talking about a very accomplished and passionate Welshman who earned the respect and admiration of the sporting world.
"It was quite clear that his goal was to make rugby an international sport of Olympian dimensions. It seemed to a number of us he would have welcomed a place on the International Olympic Committee provided rugby had succeeded in becoming of the internationally recognised sports. That's the measure of his success and it can't be understated because it was so influential.
"I first came into contact with Vernon when he joined my chambers at Park Place, Cardiff having studied the law at both Aberystwyth and Cambridge Universities. He had a fine brain and was a very good lawyer.
"He lectured for a while after leaving university before coming to the Bar. His principal master was Lord Justice Sir Michael Pill, who had been a pupil of mine in his younger days. He became one of the leading QCs in the Chester and Wales Bench and was one of the leading QCs in the Planning Bar.
"Vernon's future really depended upon him making a conscious decision on whether he wanted to become a Judge or whether he wanted to give pride of place to his activities in rugby. By the time of his illness he seemed to have made the choice to follow the rugby route. To many of us that was a pity because we recognised him as having a very fine legal mind.
"He wielded more influence in rugby than any Welshman before him and probably any will display again. He was the most powerful man in the world game and Wales has lost an enormous amount of influence on the international scene through his passing. I don't suppose we will see the likes of Vernon Pugh again.
"Vernon recognised that the amateur game could no longer satisfy the situation in which the game found itself. He saw that professionalism was coming and understood it was merely a question of how, when and in what form. He was a man who presided over some of the biggest changes that the game of rugby union has ever known.
"In his time as chairman of the WRU he was responsible for the tidiness of the administration, someone who saw his role as ensuring that the structure of the game in Wales, and its facilities, were improved. He was also instrumental in bringing the Rugby World Cup to Wales in 1999.
"He knew the game and loved the game. He was ambitious to be able to wield the power he ultimately achieved. It is perhaps too early to say how well he succeeded in his roles, but he was extremely well regarded around the world. He was one of rugby's truly international figures."
* If you are interested in making a donation as a mark of respect to Vernon Pugh, the family have earmarked either the Marie Curie Cancer Trust of the Velindre NHS Trust, c/o Graham Walters, 26, Cefn Coed Road, Cyncoed, Cardiff.