Former Cross Keys prop Richie Donovan had an emotional send-off at Pandy Park on Monday, July 27.
Mourners packed the stand at the ground as his coffin was carried onto the field where he played many of his 412 games for the club.
The 63-year-old lost his battle with stomach cancer on July 9.
The prop had been fighting the disease with the same all-out commitment and tenacity he displayed on the field throughout an outstanding career that also took in appearances for Pontypool, Newport, Abertillery, Monmouthshire, Crawshay’s and UWIC.
A special tribute dinner was held for him at Pandy Park earlier this year and among the many stars who turned up was Wales and British and Irish Lions legend Graham Price.
“You only have to look at the number of games of first-class rugby Richie played, and the length of his commitment to Cross Keys, to understand why everyone who played with him rated him so highly as a team mate and clubman,” said Price.
“I remember packing down on the opposite side of the front row to him in a number of games for Pontypool and he always had our utmost respect. He played 450 games for Keys, which is a tribute to his longevity, talent and fitness.
“Tight head props in our era never earned the plaudits, or the money, that they do today, but still had to put in the work at twice as many scrums. Richie must have packed down in thousands of scrums during his career and was always a handful for his opposite number.
“You can only applaud a player who committed so much to one club during his career and I’m sure he will be sorely missed by everyone connected to Cross Keys.”
Even at the age of 38 he kept turning out for UWIC in the Welsh Leagues in a player-coach role. That came about when his former Keys coach, Steve Williams, asked him to help out with the students.
“Richie was a fantastic clubman, a very strong prop and a wonderful person. I played with him at the end of my career and then brought him to Cross Keys from Pontypool,” recalled former Wales Under 21 coach, Williams.
“Then, at the end of his career, he helped me out at UWIC when I was coaching there. He was great at passing on his knowledge to the students and also turned out in a few matches.
“He commanded utmost respect from his team mates and the opposition. He was one of those players that nobody enjoyed playing against.
Article courtesy of WRU.co.uk
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