Swansea's Jim Clifford passes on

By Swansea RFC | 27/02/2018

  • Former All White second row Jim Clifford passes on
  • Long time servant who played against the 'Big Three'
  • Gentle man remembered by his former pupils
  • Funeral details confirmed now

Please note that the family of Jim Clifford have now confirmed the funeral arrangements: the service will be held on Friday 23rd March at All Saints Church Oystermouth at 1:15pm. The family invite you afterwards to St Helen's for refreshment and reminiscences.

Swansea Rugby Club were saddened to hear of the passing this week of former Swansea second row great Jim Clifford.

Jim played for Swansea from 1959-60 through until the end of 1966-67. A Mumbles boy Jim was exceptionally athletic for a tall man and cemented his place in the Swansea team as an expert line-out jumper. His first fifteen debut was against Gorseinon on 7th September 1959 and an all-round performance cemented his place for the season and thereafter. He played 24 matches that season, scoring one try. The 21 year old Clifford travelled with Swansea to play the Stadoceste Tarbais club (later to merge with Cercle Amical Lannemezanais and become Tarbes Rugby) at the end of the season and played in the friendly at the Stade Joules Soule ground in a match lost 20 – 15.

As a mainstay in the scrum and reliable line-out target, he was a natural selection when the touring South Africans came to St Helen’s in November 1960 to play Swansea (lost 3 – 19). Jim’s regular selection over the next two seasons (he played 32 matches in 1961-62 and 29 in 1962-63) saw him secure a place in the Swansea side that played New Zealand in December 1963 in a match remembered as Dai Parkhouse’s match. But every player strained for all he was worth and the All Blacks worked hard for a 9 – 16 win over the ‘All Whites’.

The team that played the All Blacks in 1963. Jim Clifford is back row fourth from left.

Jim’s studies to become a Lecturer in Economics at Swansea College of Technology meant he only managed nine appearances for the ‘All Whites’ in 1965-66 but in the following season, which proved to be his last in senior rugby Jim was able to turn out for 31 matches and became a member of that select group of players to have played for the club against each of the ‘big three’ touring sides for the southern hemisphere. He played for Swansea against the Australians at St Helen’s on 26th November 1966 in the club’s historic second win over the Wallabies as Swansea ran out winners in a 9 – 8 thriller. It was the highlight of a career that saw him accrue 216 games for Swansea’s first fifteen and play in a Welsh Trial

Swansea players mobbed by the crowd after defeating Australia in 1966. Left to right: Stuart Ferguson, Mike Thomas (captain) and Jim Clifford.

Another highlight was his selection for the Barbarians invitational side in 1965 where he played two matches for the touring side in October against Bradford and Hartlepool Rovers. This was an acknowledgement of the fact that he had played for Swansea against the ‘Babas’ in 1960, 1962, 1964, 1965 and 1966, scoring a try in the match in 1962.

The Barbarians team v Hartlepool Rovers 4th October 1965. Jim Clifford is middle row, fourth from right.

Recently living near Taunton, Jim Clifford was a gentle man off the pitch. He spent a lifetime in the education system and was often sought out by former pupils of his, a testament to his popularity. He also attended former Players’ dinners at St Helen’s and had recently been present for the fiftieth anniversary dinner given for the club’s win over Australia.

The sympathies of everyone at the club are with his family at this difficult time.

Members of the 1966 Swansea team that beat Australia gather for the 50th Anniversary Dinner on 28th October 2016. Jim Clifford is back row far right.

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