Obituary: Glyn Shaw – The star Welsh forward who enjoyed a trophy-laden spell with Widnes

GLYN SHAW (April 11, 1951 – May 10, 2022)

Glyn Shaw was a dual-code Wales international forward who played Rugby League for Great Britain and won a title, two Challenge Cups and four other trophies with Widnes.

In addition, the formidable frontrower, who has died aged 71 after a long illness, won silverware with Wigan and played for Warrington and Rochdale Hornets.

Officially, he made 240 appearances (with 23 tries) in the 13-a-side code between the 1977/78 and 1985/86 seasons – 140 (18 tries) for Widnes, 63 (two tries) for Wigan, 21 (two tries) for Warrington, eight (one try) for Rochdale, seven for Wales (he made his debut in the 29-7 win against France at Widnes in January 1978) and one for Great Britain, in the 12-8 second Test defeat by New Zealand at Odsal in November 1980.

But it’s thought that Shaw, who won twelve union caps for Wales and was rated as one of Neath’s best-ever forwards, made ‘under the radar’ trial appearances for Warrington in 1974 and St Helens the year after, a period when any involvement in Rugby League would have meant banishment from the 15-a-side code.

Born Glyndwr Shaw in the village of Rhigos, which overlooks the Brecon Beacons, he began his rugby career at Seven Sisters and was capped by Wales at youth level before joining Neath, ten miles away, in 1970.

He played for Wales B in 1971, and a year later, helped Neath to win the inaugural WRU National Cup.

In December 1972, he made his full Wales debut in the narrow 19-16 defeat by the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park, and displaced the revered Charlie Faulkner, so breaking up the famed Pontypool front row.

Shaw won Five Nations honours with Wales in 1973 and represented Neath and Aberavon Combined, West Glamorgan, West Wales and the Crawshays invitational side.

Blessed with remarkable strength, energy and speed, he was a prop ahead of his time with his exceptional mobility.

He was installed as captain of Neath for the 1977/78 season, but moved North to Widnes that November, entertaining supporters by performing one-arm press-ups during the warm-up ahead of his debut against New Hunslet.

Shaw, noted for his trademark headband, quickly adapted to Rugby League, and in his first season he helped the Naughton Park side win the title under coach Frank Myler. They also reached the John Player Trophy and Premiership finals, losing to Warrington and Bradford Northern respectively.

Widnes, with Doug Laughton now at the reins, might have missed out on the title in 1978/79 (both Hull KR and Warrington finished higher).

But they lifted the Lancashire Cup, BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, John Player Trophy and Challenge Cup, with Shaw playing in all but the second of those finals.

Workington Town were beaten 15-13 at Central Park in the Lancashire Cup, Warrington 16-4 at Knowsley Road in the John Player Trophy and Wakefield Trinity 12-3 in front of 94,218 in the Challenge Cup at Wembley. A 13-7 success over St Helens at Knowsley Road sealed the Floodlit Trophy.

The following season, Shaw played as Laughton’s men lifted the Lancashire Cup, seeing off Workington 11-0 at The Willows. They also won the Premiership, beating Bradford 19-5 at Station Road, a victory which brought revenge for their 6-0 defeat by the same opponents at the same venue in the John Player Trophy final.

And, in 1980/81, he gained a second Challenge Cup winners’ medal, coming off the bench to replace Mike O’Neill during the 18-9 Wembley win over Hull KR, which was watched by 92,496.

Further John Player Trophy success came with Wigan, who signed Shaw for £25,000 in November 1981 as they readjusted to the top flight under coach Maurice Bamford after a season in the Second Division.

With Alex Murphy in charge in 1982/83, when Shaw played 30 times, they finished third in the league and won the John Player Trophy with a 15-4 win over Leeds at Elland Road.

In November 1984, Warrington paid £4,000 to Wigan for his services, and a year later, he switched to Second Division Rochdale, calling time on his career at the end of that 1975/76 campaign.

His business interests kept him in Widnes, where he coached amateur side West Bank Bears for a spell, but he regularly returned to Neath for players’ reunions.

Wales Rugby League Chairman Brian Juliff, who played alongside Shaw for four of his Wales appearances, three of which were in the second row rather than at prop, said: “Glyn was a good friend and team-mate to me at both Wales and Wigan.

“He was a great character, an outstanding athlete and a fearless competitor, respected and admired throughout Rugby League and union.

“We will all miss Glyn’s presence, sense of humour and infectious personality. Condolences to all of Glyn’s family and RIP to a top man.”

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