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Clive Sullivan
Clive Sullivan
Rugby's first black captain


Clive Sullivan was born in the Splott district of Cardiff not far from the Cardiff Royal Infirmary, which was to play such a great part in his early life. In his childhood and early teens Clive needed innumerable operations on his knees, shoulders and feet; surgeons advised that he would be fortunate to walk normally. But although frail he overcame adversity, and was eventually given a trial by Bradford as a 17 year old. They were not interested in this frail winger but Hull was, playing him straight away in their first team where he shone in his first game.

Clive was an out and out sprinter with blistering speed his trademark. If there was space on the outside he would exploit it, running round the quickest of opposition wingers. Although frail looking with spindly legs, he was the master of the cover tackle with deceptive upper body strength.

In spite of repeated injuries needing further operations on his knees, he played 13 seasons with Hull. At that time the club was having little success but Clive was still able to show his immense talent. An example was his seven tries against Doncaster in 1968, a club record.

Clive scored 250 tries for Hull in 352 games, easily a club record. Transferred across the city in 1974 to Hull Kingston Rovers he scored a further 118 tries in 213 games.
He won the first of 17 caps for Great Britain in 1967, playing three World Cup matches in 1968 with a hat trick in the game against New Zealand. He toured Australia a year later, but injury restricted him to just one Test.

Returning to Great Britain in 1971 he appeared in all three Tests against New Zealand and in 1972 was awarded the captaincy for the two Tests with France. Perhaps he is best remembered as captain of the team which won the World Cup in France in 1972, scoring a try in each of Great Britain's four games. His Great Britain career finished in 1973 with three Tests against Australia. In his 17 appearances he had scored 13 tries and captained the side on nine occasions. He was awarded the MBE for services to Rugby League.
With Wales he won 15 caps in the period 1968-1979. In all games, club and international, he scored 406 tries in 639 appearances, a record bettered by only two other Welshmen and only half- a-dozen players of any nationality. He will always rank as one of the greatest finishers in the game of Rugby League.

Great Britain winger Clive Sullivan's first World Cup was a disaster for the team but quite successful for himself. He played in three of Britain's fixtures, scoring a try in the first against Australia and in the final game, a 38-14 win over New Zealand in Sydney, he became the first British player to score a hat-trick in a World Cup match.

By 1972 Clive had risen to the Great Britain captaincy and was in charge for the tournament in France. He led his under-rated Lions to victory over Australia (27-21), France (13-4) and New Zealand (53-19), claiming a try in each game. However, he is best remembered for his superlative touchdown in the final of the competition against favourites Australia. His length of the field run to score in the 10-10 draw at Lyon is arguably the most famous try in the history of the World Cup. Sully was the last British captain to lift the World Cup.

In 1975 Sullivan was still causing mayhem to defences and represented Wales in four World Championship matches. His last try at this level effectively won the World title for Australia, as Wales beat England 12-7 at Brisbane, thanks to Sullivan's match-clinching try after chasing a ball over the English line. His final three games in the tournament, however, all ended in losses. Clive's son Anthony emulated his father by representing Wales in the 1995 World Cup.




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