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Captain Jac breathes fire and fury into Wales’ World Cup challenge

09 Oct 2023 4 minute read
Jac Morgan (Credit: Inpho)

Jac Morgan is breathing fire into the Welsh revival at the World Cup.

Morgan, mighty in everything he did in Wales’s record 40-6 win against Australia, is only 23 years-old.

In the world of rugby, leadership is a virtue that takes years to cultivate, but every once in a while a prodigious talent emerges, defying conventional wisdom and capturing the hearts of fans and experts, and commanding the respect of teammates and the opposition.

Morgan’s journey to the Wales captaincy, less than two years and just 10 Tests after making his international bow, has earned him global acclaim.

His display against Australia characterised every quality that will make Welsh rugby powerful internationally.

Morgan has talent and tenacity, he has physicality and he has exceptional leadership qualities.

From the verdant fields of Llanelli, where he made his professional debut, to the iconic Principality Stadium, Morgan’s rugby journey began like that of many young Welsh kids, dreaming of the red jersey. What set him apart was an insatiable hunger for improvement.

Jac Morgan. Photo Inpho Photography

Having moved from Scarlets to Ospreys in 2021 for the inaugural BKT United Rugby Championship season, Morgan made 13 appearances and finished the league with the BKT URC crown of Turnover King, leading the competition with 24 turnovers won, a contribution that helped to drive Ospreys to the very brink of playoff qualification.

Morgan’s passion for the battle is obvious and infectious, motivating his teammates to strive for excellence in every match, and his ability to make crucial stops, read the tackle point and dominate at the breakdown was reminiscent of another flanker whose broad shoulders were famously deemed wide enough to lead Wales at the tender age of 22, namely Sam Warburton.

The value of Morgan’s contribution to the Ospreys’ cause was highlighted by the club finishing in the bottom third of the standings in 2022/23 in the absence of their tenacious loose forward whose campaign was curtailed by injury.

Wales’ Jac Morgan celebrates following the Rugby World Cup 2023, Pool C match at the Stade de Nice, France. David Davies/PA Wire

Hailed by his coaches as a “phenomenal” talent, based on his tireless work ethic and the unrelenting drive that saw him rise through the ranks at a remarkable pace, Morgan’s performances were too good to be ignored by returning Wales coach Warren Gatland.

“He is one of these guys where nothing fazes him,” Wales assistant coach Jonathan Humphreys said in an interview. “He is brave and has such an impact on the game, and such an impact on the group. Captaincy has not changed him one iota. He is a huge figure for us.”

However, it is not just Morgan’s rugby abilities that have captured the imagination of Wales. His journey is a reflection of the indomitable spirit of Welsh rugby, a sport deeply ingrained in the nation’s identity. In a country where rugby is more than just a sport – it’s a way of life – Morgan’s rise to the captaincy symbolises the dreams and aspirations of countless young players who seek to emulate his success.

Iconic lock Alun Wyn Jones’s retirement in the past season left a massive void in Wales’s leadership group but Morgan has stepped up and into the role without a change of expression.

Gatland’s decision to appoint a 23-year-old as captain was brave and necessary, signalling a changing of the guard and a new era of Welsh rugby.

“He is growing into this role,” said Gatland after the defeat of Australia. “He is still a young man, and I threw him in at the deep end. He has been absolutely outstanding, and I have a huge amount of admiration for him.”

As the captain of Wales, Morgan carries the hopes of a nation, whose team has qualified for the World Cup quarter-finals. His is a story of fury and fire, from Swansea to Paris and beyond.

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