Ex-Wales star Owain Williams dies of cancer three years on from brother’s death

Former Welsh international Owain Williams has died at the age of 56.

His death comes three years after elder brother Gareth, the Bridgend, Wales and British and Irish Lions forward, passed away in 2018 aged 63.

Williams played in the back row for Glamorgan Wanderers, Bridgend, and most notably Cardiff, and was considered a hugely popular character within Welsh rugby.

Many deemed him under-utilised by his country, winning just one international cap against Namibia at Windhoek in 1990. He also captained Wales Sevens and played for the Barbarians.

In 1996, he played in the first ever Heineken Cup final, starting at openside flanker for Cardiff as they lost 21-18 to Toulouse at Cardiff Arms Park. It remains the only time a Welsh side has appeared in the final of Europe's premier rugby competition.

Williams had fought a long term battle with cancer, having his right eye removed after being diagnosed with a tumour in 2006 before undergoing surgery on his liver.

Cardiff Rugby Life President Peter Thomas paid an emotional tribute to "one of the best best back row forwards Cardiff has ever had."

He said: “The thoughts of everyone at Cardiff Arms Park are with the family and friends of Owain at this incredibly sad time.

“His career spanned from the amateur to the professional era and he was always one of the very first names on the team sheet back in 1996, due to his diligence, professionalism and athleticism.

“To this day, Owain is undoubtedly one of the best back row forwards Cardiff has ever had. He was a wonderful player and person.

“He will be sadly missed by all of us, particularly at such a young age. He was a very special player and was respected by everyone he played with or against.”

Cardiff Rugby themselves posted: “It is with great sadness that we have learnt of the passing of Owain Williams following a long battle with cancer.

“Owain made 221 first team appearances for the club and established himself as an Arms Park legend.

“Our heartfelt thoughts are with Teddy and the Williams family.”

Bridgend RFC said the club was "deeply devastated" by the news, while former team-mate and BBC pundit Jonathan Davies said he was "brilliant to have in the squad due to his dry sharp wit."

Williams was a father of four and son Teddy, 20, is a Cardiff second-row forward who has won Wales age-grade honours.

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