How Clive Sullivan captained the British Rugby team to win the World Cup in the 1970s

Clive Sullivan/Photo credit: Hull live

The intent of featuring in a rugby game seemed bleak while growing up, but he became one of the outstanding personalities in the sport. During his formative years, Clive Sullivan required surgeries in the knees, shoulders, and feet to make him agile, but not for rugby. However, his perseverance and tenacity placed him on the path of greatness. He was given a shot to explore his dream by the Bradford Northern Rugby League Club at the age of 17, according to black history month. However, it was for a short stint.

In the ensuing years, Clive’s talent on the field quickly became apparent, and he was given an opportunity by the Rugby League club, Hull. Despite his health concerns, he had a remarkable speed. During his first game for Hull, he demonstrated exceptional skill and outpaced the best wingers of the game at the time. His strength was at his upper body, which he pulled with extraordinary strength, making him invisible to the knocks and hits which come with the rugby game. He played a total of 352 games for Hull, scoring 250 tries.

Born in Splott, Cardiff, to the only black family in the community, he played rugby at an early age. However, he sustained a series of injuries that made doctors doubt he would be able to walk again, but he defied the odds when it mattered the most. Before venturing into professional rugby games, he served with the British army in 1961, according to The Scotsman.

He made his first appearance for Great Britain in 1967, scoring two tries against France. Due to his outstanding performance, he was made the captain of the Lions five years later, the first black person to lead a British national team in a major sport. He then made history in 1972 by winning the world cup with the team, the first time it was not won by Australia or New Zealand.

He scored a try in each of the games played by his team and scored the most popular try in the final game with Australia. He repeated the same feat in 1975 when he played for Wales in the 1975 Rugby League World Cup. The team finished third in the five-team World Cup game. He played for Great Britain 17 times, out of which he starred in three world cups, the last with Wales.

Throughout his career, Clive faced discrimination and racism, but he remained resilient and determined to succeed. He paved the way for future generations of black rugby players, and his legacy continues to inspire people today. Clive Sullivan’s story is a reminder of the power of perseverance and determination, and the impact that one person can have in breaking down barriers and changing the face of a sport. He died of liver cancer at the age of 42 in 1985, shortly after he retired from the sport.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: March 28, 2023


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