Tributes paid to former Wigan star Jack

The longest-surviving former Wigan Rugby League player has died, leaving behind a legacy of rugby achievements.

Benjamin John Bowen, known as Jack Bowen, died peacefully at his home in Swinley on February 26, aged 93.

Born in Llanelli, in Wales, in 1915, he began his rugby career playing for the Llanelli Scarlets team.

After playing in the 1938 Final Trial for Wales, he was approached by Wigan Rugby League Club and signed a 10-year contract.

After only a dozen games he earned himself a Lancashire Cup medal when Wigan beat Salford later that year. Jack, a father-of-two and grandfather-of-four, returned to Wales when the Second World War broke out and served three years in the forces, before returning to Wigan to

play in the last match of the 1946-47 season.

The following season, 1947-48 was his 10th and last with Wigan, but he was persuaded to play on with Leigh and it was during this time that he was again selected to play for the Welsh Rugby League team against France.

After retirement from the sport, Jack and his wife, Phyllis, ran the Crispin Arms in Birkett Bank, from 1950 until 1956, and he was also landlord of newly-built Wellfield Hotel in Beech Hill.

The couple ran the pub until May 1974 before retiring, after almost 25 years in the trade. Phyllis died in 2001, shortly after the couple celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary. In March 2005, on Jack's 90th birthday, he was awarded his Welsh RL International cap.

His son, Keith Bowen, said: "Dad was never one for saying much but was overwhelmed by the occasion and obviously delighted, as were the family, to finally receive this honour.

"He lived his life as he played the game, selflessly and always gave his all for his family, a truly wonderful father.

"He was described as a 'gentleman player', a great epithet.

"We were so fortunate to have him as our dad."

The funeral will take place on Thursday at Wigan Crematorium at 1.30pm.