England lock Colclough dies at 52

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The Independent Online

A British and Irish Lion twice over - he toured South Africa in 1980 and New Zealand three years later - he had been suffering from a brain tumour for some time.

"He was a powerful, very athletic rugby player who made a massive contribution to the clubs for whom he played, to his country and to the Lions," said Bill Beaumont, who led England to that Grand Slam 26 years ago and spent the best years of his career alongside Colclough in the red-rose engine room. "He had a huge heart, and he will be greatly missed."

Born in Oxford in 1953, one of the few years before 1980 in which England managed to get through a Five Nations Championship unbeaten, Colclough was educated at the Duke of York's Royal Military School in Dover and at Liverpool University. He played club rugby for Liverpool before blazing a trail to France, where he turned out for and captained Angoulême, then a side of some note. He also played for Wasps and Swansea, and was an enthusiastic restaurateur away from the rugby field.

As he closed in on an England place, his chief rival for the berth alongside Beaumont was the line-out specialist Nigel Horton. Colclough replaced him midway through the 1978 Five Nations, after England had been beaten narrowly by Wales at Twickenham, and immediately helped his country to a convincing victory over Scotland in Edinburgh. It was the first of 25 caps over an eight-year span, during which he partnered Beaumont, Jim Sydall, Steve Bainbridge and Wade Dooley - northerners all.

Colclough was no soft southerner, though. On his two Lions tours he played in all eight Tests - a considerable feat for a tight forward, given the extreme physical challenges presented by such trips at the time. The Lions might have beaten the Springboks in 1980 and Colclough's performances against the fearsome second-row pairing of Louis Moolman and Moaner van Heerden were at the heart of a brave effort. Sadly, there was no earthly chance of a victory over the All Blacks three years later.

After the 1980 Slam, he was considered a senior member of the England pack. He scored only four international points - a try in the victory over a depleted New Zealand side at Twickenham in 1983 - but made many more, in every sense. He is survived by his wife Annie and five children.