TRIBUTES have been paid to Cross Keys legend and “gentleman warrior” Richie Donovan, who has died at the age of 64.

Donovan was born in Newport and played for the Black and Ambers youth team before playing a few games for Abertillery.

The prop, who was comfortable on either side of the scrum, moved to Pontypool where he was understudy to the legendary Charlie Faulkner and Graham Price.

After a season at Pooler he moved to Cwmbran and then played a few games for Cross Keys at the end of 1980/81, where he was to go on to become a firm favourite.

Donovan racked up an incredible 412 games, a post-war record, and was player of the year in his first season at Pandy Park and again in 1984/85, while he was named clubman of the year in 1987/88, that after a brief spell with Newport, and 1989/90.

He left to coach at UWIC and made one final appearance on his old stomping ground for the students at Pandy Park at the grand age of 44 in November 1999.

“When this amazing player left the field he received a standing ovation from supporters in the grandstand,” wrote club historian Horace Jefferies in The Pandy Park Story.

“It was a worthy salute to a man who gave a great deal to rugby football at Pandy Park.”