A WELSH rugby giant and a man of Gwent was buried in the peaceful village of Llangynidr a few miles outside Crickhowell yesterday after dying at the age of 83.

George Parsons, a dual Welsh international in rugby union and league, was born in Newbridge on the same day as the Queen in April 1926.

After attending Abertillery County School he played for Abertillery, Newbridge and Newport and was a member of the combined Abertillery/Cross Keys team against Australia in 1947.

He played for Newport as a 17-year-old and was capped for Wales at 19, the youngest forward ever to play in an international at the time.

He gained notoriety when he was asked to leave a France-bound train by the Welsh Rugby Union because he had associated with people from rugby league, completely frowned upon in those days.

Although reinstated, Parsons, a second row forward, signed for St Helens in 1948 after been approached by no fewer than 22 clubs. He went on to make 296 appearances for them.

He also made 12 appearances for Wales and in 1953 was a member of the team which beat Wigan in the Lancashire Cup final in front of 42,793 spectators. Three years later he was in the first Saints team to win the Challenge Cup.

Mr Parsons was a senior manager in the famous Pilkington factory in the town and was also a magistrate and a Liberal Party councillor.

He was a life member of the St Helen's Former Players Association and Geoff Pimblett, president of the association who was at the funeral, said "He was a gentleman, very well respected in St Helens and he was one of our founder members when the committee was formed 30 years ago."

Former Welsh rugby union international Kel Coslett, who played for Aberavon and then spent 14 years with St Helens, also travelled to the funeral while David Nash, the former Ebbw Vale and Wales No 8 who became the first Wales union coach and ex-referee Ernie Lewis were also there.

"He did everything and was a member of the St Helens Hall of Fame. I wanted to show that he was not forgotten, the important thing is that we remain a family," said Mr Coslett.

Mr Parsons' son Stephen spoke of how his father was a keen family man who always attended St Helen's player reunions but had wanted to return to Wales where he settled at Llangynidr 20 years ago and often went to Cardiff to watch Wales.

Mr Parsons left a son, daughter Christine, six grandchildren and a great granddaughter.