Ray Gravell’s historic rugby blazer returns to a good cause

A Wales Triple Crown blazer given by Scarlets and Wales Legend Ray Gravell to a close friend more than 30 years ago, has been donated back to the Trust.

The 1979 Triple Crown blazer, with the breast pocket embroidered with the Welsh national emblem and Triple Crowns, and inscribed W.R.U. 1979, has held pride of place at a Llanelli businessman’s home for 30 years, and is still in pristine condition.

During his 23 cap international career with Wales during the 1970’s Golden Era, Ray was a member of two Grand Slams, four Championship titles, and four Grand Slams Triple Crowns.

The 1979 Triple Crown was marked with players being given blazers by the WRU, and Ray gave his to a very good friend Mr Dudley Francis, a well known Llanelli Businessman.
“It was a wonderful gesture by a wonderfully unique character, but I have always felt the blazer should have been in his wardrobe and not mine, even though I knew Ray was never going to accept it back,” said Mr Francis.

“But now I feel the same amount of pride in returning it to its rightful place,” added Mr Francis.

The blazer was returned to the Ray Gravell And Friends Charitable Trust at the Ray Gravell Raceday at Ffos Las.

Mr Francis was unable to attend the presentation due to illness, bu his son Leigh said his father had been good friends with Ray more than 30 years when Ray regularly visited the family factory – usually when the tea and coffee was being served.
Due to their close friendship, the company helped Ray with some home improvements and as a demonstration of his gratitude Ray gave his 1979 Grand Slam blazer to Mr Francis.

“It was a wonderful gesture, but I was a little embarrassed and told Ray I couldn’t accept it. Ray in his inimitable way insisted that I accept, and reluctantly I did. I attempted to return the blazer almost every time I saw Ray but he was never going to accept it. I told him several times that although I was proud to have been given the blazer it should have been in his wardrobe and not mine”

“After Ray’s passing the blazer has been a bit of a source of embarrassment to me as I always felt it should have been returned. Now after 30 years I am very relieved and proud to ensure it has gone back to the Trust. I will never forget Ray, a wonderfully unique character who had the ability to light up any room and he was a passionately proud Welshman”

“This made his gift so amazing, and I feel the same amount of pride in returning it to its rightful place,” added Mr Francis’ message.

The blazer was accepted on behalf of the Trust by Ray’s fellow Scarlet and Welsh Golden Era Legend Derek Quinnell.

” I am proud and honoured to accept this blazer on behalf of the Trust. It is a remarkable story with a wonderful conclusion. I know Mr Dudley Francis treasured the blazer and we are very grateful to him for the kind gesture,” said Mr Quinnell, who is Chairman of the Trust’s Organising Committee.