Obituary: Norman Gale

Wales rugby captain

THE FORMER Wales hooker and captain Norman Gale died less than 48 hours after watching his beloved Llanelli Scarlets defeat Munster in a Celtic League match.

Gale, a Gorseinon boy, was educated at Gowerton Grammar School and, after playing for Gorseinon seniors, joined Llanelli, whom he led in the 1964/65 and 1967/68 seasons, despite a brief spell with Swansea.

In March 1960 he was with Swansea when he made his international debut against Ireland in Dublin, with Wales victorious by 10-9. Gale played for Swansea against South Africa in November 1960, but then returned to Stradey Park. He had to wait until the England game of 1963 before winning a second cap, but then made the hooker position his own.

In 1964 Wales shared the Championship with Scotland and then won it outright in 1965 and 1966, with Gale saving the game at Murrayfield in 1965 - in the closing minutes he dived over in the corner to give Wales a 12-10 win over Scotland.

When New Zealand toured in 1967 he was picked as captain of Wales and astonishingly took a second-half penalty attempt and goaled it. However, Wales lost 13-6 and his captaincy was restricted to one more game - an 11-all draw with England at Twickenham in 1968.

Having also played for Wales against New Zealand in 1963, South Africa in 1964 and Australia in 1968, he ended his international career with the tour to the Southern Hemisphere in 1969. In the first Test against New Zealand he replaced Jeff Young after the latter's jaw was fractured. He played in the second Test and then, against Australia at Sydney, made his 25th and last appearance, as Wales won 19-16. After retiring as a player he joined the Llanelli coaching staff.

Gale had worked as a fitter for British Steel and then as landlord of the White Horse Inn in Llanelli before retirement.

Norman Reginald Gale, rugby player: born Gorseinon, Glamorgan 24 July 1939; married (one son); died Gorseinon 31 January 2005.

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