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Students’ Rugby Football Union pays tribute to Derek Morgan

It is with great sadness that the Students’ Rugby Football Union pays tribute to Derek Morgan, one of the SRFU and England Students' founding members, who passed away this week at the age of 88.

Derek studied dentistry at Durham University and, despite being born in Wales, was selected to play for England through his parentage. As a player, in 1960, his first International season, England was unbeaten, sharing the five nations with France, having drawn with them in Paris. In 1961, he scored the only try of the game for the Barbarians to beat the previously undefeated South Africans.

Following his playing career, Morgan went on to become a champion and pioneer of University Rugby. Current SRFU President Phil De Glanville said that Mr Morgan was “a titan in the university sector.”

He went on to say, “As a player, coach/selector and administrator, he had a

huge impact on many people and will be sorely missed. His passion and energy levels were legendary. We all thank you for your contribution to University Rugby, Derek.”

SRFU life member and good friend of Mr Morgan, Stu Wade, also said, “A colossus. Derek created the Student Rugby body and worked assiduously to make it financially viable. He was a fantastic friend and colleague in the SRFU.”


“The ultimate volunteer who worked hard gave his time, and everybody else's joy was his reward. He was one of the best men I have ever known. To say he will be missed is an understatement of epic proportions.”

Morgan was the driving force in bringing together the inaugural England Students and was the first Chairman and only representative on the RFU Committee from its formation in 1976. He was also chairman of selectors for the England squad, building a team around England’s then-captain Bill Beaumont and helping secure a Grand Slam for the first time in 23 years in 1980.

Derek significantly influenced the careers of numerous players, including Will Carling, Rob Andrew, Stuart Barnes, Nigel Melville, and Brian Moore, all part of his England Universities teams. Additionally, he shaped the careers of Phil De Glanville, Jonathon Webb, Sir Clive Woodward, and many others.

Former SRFU President Bob Reeves added, “This was a man with a Welsh accent who lived for many years in Wales but played for England and served English rugby as much as any other person ever did. What he did for student rugby was huge, but it was just a part of what he did for rugby in total.”

“From 1976, Derek did a great deal on the RFU committee to promote the student game as well as being heavily involved in the top end of the English game. He chaired the National Playing Committee and was chair of the England Selectors for a number of seasons. It was during this time that he pushed for Autumn Internationals to be played. It was only right that he finished his time with the RFU as President.”

“Derek was a loyal friend and a terrific family man, and he spent over 50 years involved in supporting student rugby.”

Married to Ruth, a practising dentist, Derek always appreciated his family. Ruth managed his work absences dedicated to the sport while their three children and six grandchildren consistently supported his rugby endeavours. Their daughter Rhian played rugby for Wales against England in 1987.

We are all eternally grateful for everything that Derek did for university rugby and are deeply saddened by his loss. Thank you, Derek, and we hope to continue to make you proud and build on your legacy.

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