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Death of Pioneering Coach

9th November 2006

Roy Bish, a pioneering coach in Welsh rugby in the 1960s has died at the age of 75.

Mr Bish was an influential figure in several spheres of the game after he retired from playing and became senior lecturer in physical education at the then Cardiff Training College in the early 1960s.

Originally from Port Talbot where he attended the local grammar school, he won three secondary schools caps for Wales in 1948, playing at centre in a star-studded back division that also included Carwyn James, Lewis Jones and another future senior international, Trevor Brewer.

His own senior club rugby was chiefly with Aberavon and he played in the Combined Aberavon & Neath XV against New Zealand in 1954. He also played county rugby for Devon and Glamorgan.

In 1965 he became the first qualified coach in charge of Cardiff RFC., combining his work at the club with his professional career at the training college. The Cardiff team of the era became synonymous with a brand of 15-man attacking rugby that was the prototype for the successes at national level in the 1970s.

The careers of Lions such as Maurice Richards, Keri and Ken Jones, Gerald Davies and, later, Gareth Edwards and Barry John all prospered under Mr BishÂ’s coaching.
His qualities were also recognised further afield as he accepted invitations to prepare Oxford University for the Varsity Match at Twickenham and, eventually, clubs in Italy where he also became national coach.

In recent years, Roy Bish had continued to maintain contact with rugby in Italy as well as being a consultant in initiatives such as the Da Vinci Project that linked development programmes in Toulouse, Treviso and Cardiff.

Rugby great Gareth Edwards led the tributes to the former Cardiff RFC Coach. "Roy was a meticulous organiser, great thinker, and someone who will be badly missed as a gentleman," said Edwards. "I knew him both as a college lecturer at Cardiff Training College [now UWIC] and as coach at Cardiff Arms Park. There were a lot of great individuals at the club, but his organisational skills helped in great days like the defeat of Australia in 1966. Rugby coaching was in its infancy - I remember people being upset we had a coach at all, they felt the game should be free-flowing. Italy saw his worth and took him there. In the modern age, Roy would be a national hero."