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Clive Sullivan MBE, rugby’s first black captain

By 2nd October 2020Uncategorised

Clive Sullivan was born in Cardiff in early 1943, throughout his childhood and early teens Clive needed countless operations on his knees, shoulders and feet, leaving him lucky to walk. Despite this, Clive never gave up on his dream of becoming a rugby player. After a brief stint in the Army, and by overcoming the odds, he was eventually signed by Hull Rugby Club after an impressing trial.​

Clive was an out, and out sprinter, his blistering speed and his cover tackle quickly became his trademark. Despite regular knee operations, Clive Sullivan played an impressive 13 seasons for Hull scoring 250 tries in 352 games.​

In 1967, Clive made his international debut for Great Britain. Five years later he was made captain of the squad, becoming the first black player to lead a national team in any major sport in the UK. This historic moment was heightened, when his captaincy led the team to World Cup success.​

During the 1960s and 1970s, there were very few black athletes in prominent positions in British sport. The speedster was a trailblazer who paved the way for other athletes to make their presence felt – not just in rugby league but British sport in general.​

Six months after his last game, the much-loved player died of liver cancer on 8th October 1985 at the age of 42.​

Clive will always be remembered for his breath taking speed, his great eye for the line made him of the game’s most notable superstars. Throughout his career, he broke down numerous racial barriers and, his impact on British sport is undoubtedly still seen today.

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