Paul Woods: 'Hardest man in rugby league'

Paul Woods, rugby league player: born Pontllanfraith, Monmouthshire 28 October 1950; married Angela Moore (one daughter); died Abergavenny, Monmouthshire 1 November 2007.

Paul Woods was one of the roughest, toughest, most notorious rugby players of his generation. Even at a time when there was no shortage of what were known euphemistically as "hard men" in rugby league, he would be many team-mates' and opponents' choice as the hardest.

"He was very tough and very aggressive," recalls Jim Mills, who played with him for Widnes and Wales, and was himself sent off more often than any player of his era. "You wanted him on your side, not against you."

Woods' rugby union career in South Wales took him from his village club at Oakdale, to Tredegar and Pontypool, building his reputation as a back who could not only look after himself but look after most of the opposition pack as well.

Widnes always had an eye out for talent from the Valleys and in 1976 they signed him to come north and play rugby league, using him mainly at full-back and on the wing, although the emergence of Mick Burke meant that Woods was only a substitute in the Lancashire Cup final of 1978.

By then, he had made his dbut for Wales, winning the first of his 10 caps as the most combative of scrum-halves in a memorable 6-2 victory over England, at Headingley in 1977.

The battling performance Mills most vividly remembers was at Swansea the following year, when Woods was up against the famously pugnacious Australian scrum-half, Tommy Raudonikis. Although Wales lost the match 8-3, Woods was generally reckoned to have won the battle within the battle. "Raudonikis was a hard nut," Mills acknowledges, "But he was shouting out to the referee 'Get him off me, get him off me.'"

Kel Coslett, the Welsh team coach, valued those qualities and took Woods to his club side, Rochdale Hornets, but this stay was brief. Hull, just starting to put together the team that would make them the code's pacesetters in the early 80s, signed him and it was there that he played his best club rugby.

He was a success as a full-back and as a sometime goal-kicker, although controversy was never far away. In the 1980, all-Humberside Challenge Cup final at Wembley, for instance, he became the first man to concede a potential "seven-point try" in the showpiece. Woods kicked the Hull Kingston Rovers winger, Steve Hubbard, after he scored, giving him an extra shot at goal from directly in front of the posts.

Mills also recalls him breaking the jaw of Bob Mordell, an English rugby union convert, during a match against Oldham. Others remember the hunger with which he used to pursue Swinton's Danny Wilson, a team-mate for Wales, but an opponent who invariably raised his ire, or the time he ran 80 yards to join in a fight at the far end of the field.

His remaining destinations included the newly-formed club at Cardiff, where his hard-edged rugby league know-how complemented high-profile Welsh rugby union signings like Steve Fenwick, Paul Ringer and Tom David.

His playing career ended at Runcorn, after which he moved back to South Wales and coached his old club in Tredegar. He moved to fill a similar role at Margam, until he was incapacitated by the leukaemia that killed him.

Dave Hadfield

A model of a Neanderthal man on display at the National Museum of Prehistory in Dordogne, France
Richard Dawkins dedicated his book 'The Greatest Show on Earth' to Josh Timonen
newsThat's Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome
Arts and Entertainment
Eye of the beholder? 'Concrete lasagne' Preston bus station
architectureWhich monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Dinosaurs Unleashed at the Eden Project
Arts and Entertainment
Life and Style
This month marks the 20th anniversary of the first online sale
techDespite a host of other online auction sites and fierce competition from Amazon, eBay is still the most popular e-commerce site in the UK
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, Graduate, SQL, VBA)

£45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Analyst (Financial Services, ...

Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Perl, Bash, SQL)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Application Support Engineer (C++, .NET, VB, Per...

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape
eBay's enduring appeal: Online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce retailer

eBay's enduring appeal

The online auction site is still the UK's most popular e-commerce site
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
Artist Olafur Eliasson's latest large-scale works are inspired by the paintings of JMW Turner

Magic circles: Artist Olafur Eliasson

Eliasson's works will go alongside a new exhibition of JMW Turner at Tate Britain. He tells Jay Merrick why the paintings of his hero are ripe for reinvention
Josephine Dickinson: 'A cochlear implant helped me to discover a new world of sound'

Josephine Dickinson: 'How I discovered a new world of sound'

After going deaf as a child, musician and poet Josephine Dickinson made do with a hearing aid for five decades. Then she had a cochlear implant - and everything changed
Greggs Google fail: Was the bakery's response to its logo mishap a stroke of marketing genius?

Greggs gives lesson in crisis management

After a mishap with their logo, high street staple Greggs went viral this week. But, as Simon Usborne discovers, their social media response was anything but half baked
Matthew McConaughey has been singing the praises of bumbags (shame he doesn't know how to wear one)

Matthew McConaughey sings the praises of bumbags

Shame he doesn't know how to wear one. Harriet Walker explains the dos and don'ts of fanny packs
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

Joey Barton: ‘I’ve been guilty of getting a bit irate’

The midfielder returned to the Premier League after two years last weekend. The controversial character had much to discuss after his first game back
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home