ONE of Gloucester’s rugby greats has died.
Jack Fowke, who played more than 260 games for the club in the 1960s, passed away on Saturday after a short illness.
Fowke, a loosehead prop, was the cornerstone of Gloucester’s pack for 10 years and played many times in the same from front row as his brother Roy, who was also a prop.
Keith Richardson, a former Gloucester coach and player, has fond memories of Fowke.
“In the days of skulduggery, plain violence and not a little technique, Jack was the master.
“He was also a man you wanted to spend time with – as long as he was not knocking you to pieces on a rugby field.”
Richardson said that John O’Shea, the legendary Cardiff, Wales and Lions prop was in awe of Fowke and rated him as the best prop he ever played against.”
Richardson also said that Fowke was happy to pass on his knowledge to young props coming through the ranks at Kingsholm.
“He was a kind man, softly spoken and helpful,” said former prop Richardson
“I had cause, many times over, to thank him for his guidance and advice when I started playing in the front row.
“He would not say a lot, but the little snippets of advice were priceless and they would never have appeared in any coaching literature. It was all based on hard-earned experience and knowledge.”
Pete Jones, the former Scotland and Gloucester prop, was another to benefit from Fowke’s willingness to share his knowledge. “As a young prop coming through, he was very influential on me,” said Jones. “I was good friends with his son Gareth and Jack used to teach me about the finer arts of the front row in his back garden over a few drinks.
“Only a couple of months ago he was giving my 17-year-old son Cameron (a hooker for Gloucester Under-18s) a coaching lesson, walking stick in hand, in his kitchen. He was a special man.”
Fowke, who also played for Spartans and Stroud, played his first game for Gloucester on March 26, 1960, in the 11-10 defeat at Newport and his final game in the 16-3 defeat against touring side Bosuns at Kingsholm on October 15, 1969.
Peter Ford, a former president of Gloucester who played alongside Fowke, had huge respect for him.
“Jack wouldn’t back down to any player,” he said. “He was respected and feared by everyone he played against. It was a pleasure to play with him.”
Fowke was renowned as a great front row technician and Ford believes he would have been “outstanding” in the modern game.
“Jack had a great technique, he just knew how to scrumage,” Ford said.
“You know how good a player is when you play with him and there was no better player to play with than Jack.”
Mickey Booth, a former Gloucester scrum-half, remembers Fowke as a “super scrummager”.
“You didn’t see much of him with the ball in his hand but he was a wonderful technical prop,” he said.
“At the lineout I could have played in an armchair because he never let anyone through and he protected his jumper.
“He was outstanding and his death is very sad news.”
Fowke, a builder who lived in Hucclecote, leaves a widow Maureen and three children, Gareth, Sarah and Greg.