Saturday, January 28, 2006
International Rugby: RIP Maurice Colclough
Source: The Daily Telegraph
By Mick Cleary
The former England and Lions lock, Maurice Colclough, has died aged 52. He had been ill for some time, fighting a brain tumour that was finally to lay low one of the most powerful men ever to play rugby.
Colclough, a central figure in the 1980 Grand Slam side, made his England debut in the 15-0 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield in 1978.
"I remember him sitting there beforehand with a pair of scissors in his hand," said former prop Fran Cotton, a colleague at both Lancashire and England. "His calf muscles were so flamin' big that he had to cut the side of his socks to get them on. He was without doubt the strongest scrummager I ever came across. He wasn't the most co-ordinated, mind. He broke my nose on a couple of occasions, those elbows and knees going everywhere as he piled in.
"Maurice was a character, one who lived life to the full. I'm not sure the modern game, with its uniform ways, would have suited. He was a real free spirit. It's all very sad, it really is. Maurice had been suffering for some time. A lesser man would have gone a while ago but he fought like hell."
Colclough had a rover's inclinations. He played for Sussex and Lancashire, as well as East Grinstead, Wasps and Swansea. Cotton remembers him pitching up for his first game wearing a bedraggled RAF greatcoat, suitable garb for the Liverpool University student that he was.
"All the gossip was about how he might end up in jail," Cotton said. "The Dublin police were after him for having dived into the Liffey stark naked when on tour. The thought of the Gardai waiting to apprehend this ginger-haired monster as he emerged had us in stitches. I think he got off with a fine and the Gardai with their lives."
Myths of mad moments and dangerous deeds followed Colclough around. There was talk that he helped dig the Mersey tunnel when a student. There was a story, too, of him doing his damnedest to make a Sussex game against Eastern Counties, only to miss the flight and be found hitching a lift at Spaghetti Junction.
He had a varied CV, upping sticks to go to Angouleme, where he ran a bar, Le Liverpool, also overseeing a boat and slot-machine business. He ran a similar operation when he moved back to Swansea. In recent years he had lived in South Africa before returning latterly to Cardiff.
"Maurice should have been a wild, colonial boy from another age," said another former England Grand Slam team-mate, Roger Uttley. "He was a rough diamond but a really good bloke. He was an entrepreneur, rugby's Arthur Daley. Top man."
Colclough won 25 caps for England in an eight-year career. He played eight Tests for the Lions, in South Africa in 1980 and New Zealand three years later. His captain on that first trip was Bill Beaumont, who packed down alongside him for England.
"Maurice made a massive contribution to all the teams he played for," Beaumont said. "He had a huge heart and will be greatly missed."
Colclough is survived by his wife, Annie, and five children.