It is with immense pride that Pontypool RFC today announces that the grandstand at the club’s historic home of Pontypool Park will be named ‘The Ray Prosser Stand’ in honour of the club legend who sadly passed away on Sunday at the age of 93.
Known affectionately throughout the rugby world as ‘Pross’ – Ray represented Wales at prop on 22 occasions between 1956 and 1961 and was selected - along with club mate - Malcolm Price, for the 1959 British Lions tour of Australia, New Zealand and Canada. He played 11 times in New Zealand (including the 4th test at Eden Park, Auckland on 19th September 1959 with the Lions winning 9-6, the only test success in New Zealand for the Lions) and scored his only try of the tour against Manawatu/Horowhenua at Palmerston North in a 26-6 Lions’ victory.
Ray made his first appearance as a player for Pontypool RFC against Ebbw Vale RFC on 15th March 1951. He went on to play around 300 games for Pooler in the second row and captained the club between 1956 and 1958, before retiring from playing in 1961.
Following an illustrious playing career, Ray stepped up to coach Pontypool RFC between 1969 and 1987, during which time the club enjoyed the most successful period in its history. 900 matches were played under his leadership and the club achieved a success rate of over 71%, a remarkable run of consistency.
During Ray’s reign as coach, Pontypool RFC were Welsh Club Champions on five occasions, won the Welsh Merit Table seven times and lifted the WRU Challenge Cup in 1983. Between 1983 and 1986, Pooler were the most consistent club side in the United Kingdom and gained a hat trick of doubles as Welsh Club Champions and Welsh Merit Table winners.
Ray produced seven British Lions, eleven Welsh Internationals, including three Welsh captains, eighteen players who represented Wales B and/or a Welsh XV in non-capped games and ten players who played for the Barbarians. Pooler also held the world record for number points in a season – 1607 – which was achieved during the 1983-84 campaign.
Above all else, Ray was the most loyal of clubmen who was a life member of Pontypool RFC and continued to watch the club play well into his late 80s. He will hold a special place in the history of the club for his remarkable record, not only as a player but also as a very successful coach. He has been, without doubt, the most influential person in Pontypool RFC’s rich and proud history.
Ray’s lasting legacy has inspired thousands of people to remain connected to Pontypool RFC and to this present day, so many supporters are proud to call Pontypool Park their home away from home. Thus, it is only apt that Pontypool Park will forever be known as the place that ‘Pross’ built.
Pontypool RFC will soon announce the next phase of the club’s plans to re-generate Pontypool Park and ‘The Ray Prosser Stand’ into a premier sporting venue and our determination to pay a tribute worthy of Pooler’s ultimate legend will be at the forefront of the club’s focus in the weeks and months ahead.
Our thoughts continue to be with Ray’s family during this very sad time.