Position: Back Row
|Place Of Birth||Haverfordwest|
Ivor Morgan is remembered as one of the most innovative players of his day in an era where there were many rising stars but most of them in the three quarters line. Ivor Morgan was a wing forward who took play in that position to a new level of invention.
William Ivor Morgan, a coal trimmer by occupation, was born in Haverford, West Wales in August 1884. He was educated at Danygraig Board School, Swansea and played for the Danygraig club before joining Swansea in 1905. At this time the All Whites had just completed their famous 'Invincible' season and the 21 year old Morgan was somewhat overshadowed by illustrious team mates in the pack like George Hayward and the great roving wing forward Fred Scrine, both Welsh internationals.
Fortunately for the young red headed newcomer, he was not only strong enough to stand the rough play of the wing forward position but fast enough to cover other positions and intelligent enough to develop his game. With outside half Dick Jones injured and not playing at this time, he developed a sympathetic playing style to complement the diminutive genius of scrum half Dicky Owen. Owen had also to do without the presence of the great Billy Trew as often as not through injury so he had to become a playmaker at Swansea and his combinations with Morgan at the back of the scrum mesmerised opposition. Owen would make the space for Ivor Morgan to exploit and Morgan protected Owen from the worst of the rough play at the back of the scrum. Morgan was also a great playmaker from the lineout. When the first New Zealand tourists arrived in Swansea in December 1905 with only a single defeat to Wales in 35 matches against them, Morgan was already good enough to be included in the Swansea side that lost narrowly by a drop goal (4pts) to a try (3pts) to the All Blacks.
With his speed and eye for an opening, Morgan became a prolific try scorer for Swansea. In the 1908-09 season Morgan scored 18 tries, an astonishing number for a forward and a club record for a forward at Swansea! He added 9 more in 1909-10 and 17 in 1910-11, with 8 in his last season of 1911-12. As his style of play developed, he pushed the boundries of wing forward play into the dynamic loose head forward style more recognisable today but alien to the game at the start of the 20th century. Added to his exceptional speed for a big man, he had great distributive skills and the swerve of a centre three-quarter. In fact, Morgan played at centre for the All Whites against the Barbarians (and scored 2 tries against an international centre). He even covered for Dick Jones at outside half when the latter went off injured.
Ivor Morgan's first international call up was against the touring Australians in 1908 where his fast movement from the scrum enabled Wales to get better possession that the tourists and win 9 - 6. He played even better when Swansea claimed the scalp of the Wallabies on Boxing Day 1908 (6 - 0). He held his place in the internationals as Wales achieved the Grand Slam of 1908, the first time it was up for grabs with France now in the competition. France were heavily defeated by Wales at St Helens in 1910 (49 - 14) and Ivor Morgan snatched 2 tries himself in the match. But at Twickenham that year he was used poorly with team strategy forcing him into a more orthodox role. Wales lost this first ever match at the ground (the 'bogey' had begun!). In 1911 Morgan was in the side that beat England at St Helens (15 - 11) with Morgan getting another try to help erase the memories of the previous encounter. He kept his place in the side as Wales won another Grand Slam, their last for 39 years. With Billy Trew now a constant partner to Owen, Morgan flourished as a player in 1912 but was not selected for the return match at Twickenham against England. Welsh selectors had gone for scrummaging over mobility and it didn't work (lost 0 - 8). Morgan was reselected for the match against Scotland and scored another try as Wales romped home 21 - 6 at St Helens. But Morgan's style of play still seemed too individual for selectors and he was surprisingly dropped for the Irish and French games considering his form. He did not play for Wales again.
Ivor Morgan ended his international career with 6 tries but his open, opportunistic and mobile style of play was a blueprint for future wing forwards. He was truly ahead of his time. At the end of the 1911-12 season, he finished playing though only 27 years old. Morgan died on 10th December 1943 in Blackpill, Mumbles aged 59.
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