By David Williams
Tributes have been paid throughout Welsh rugby after the death of Peter Thomas, the former Cardiff chairman.
A hugely influential figure within the sport, the 79-year-old passed away on Wednesday, three years after he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Cardiff said Thomas “remained fiercely loyal and active in club matters until the very end and leaves a lasting legacy at Cardiff Arms Park”.
Cardiff Rugby are saddened to announce the passing of Life President, Peter Thomas CBE.
— Cardiff Rugby (@Cardiff_Rugby) March 29, 2023
Current Cardiff captain Josh Turnbull tweeted: “Incredibly sad day, proud to have known him grateful to have spent time with him, indebted for everything he has done for @Cardiff_Rugby.
Sending my deepest condolences to the family my thoughts are with you all. RIP Peter Thomas.”
Nigel Walker – acting chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union and a player at Cardiff in the 1990s when Thomas during Thomas’s period as chairman – wrote: “Very sad news indeed. He made a huge contribution to Cardiff Rugby and had a significant and long lasting impact on my career both on and off the field. Thank you and God bless you.”
And Cardiff Rugby said: “Peter will be remembered as one of the most important and influential figures in the unrivalled history of Cardiff Rugby.
“The club was his lifelong passion and we will forever be indebted to Peter and the Thomas family.”
Thomas played for Cardiff RFC in the 1960s and later returned to help run the club, serving as chairman for 22 years until he stepped down in 2018.
Cardiff Rugby announced Thomas’s passing in a statement, describing him as their “life president”. The statement read, “Thomas remained fiercely loyal and active in club matters until the very end and leaves a lasting legacy at Cardiff Arms Park.”
Thomas had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2021 and passed away peacefully at home on Wednesday with his family by his side.
During his time at Cardiff, Thomas brought some of the biggest names in the game to the Arms Park, including Jonathan Davies, Iestyn Harris, and Jonah Lomu.
The club’s statement said, “Cardiff Rugby are saddened to announce the passing of life president, Peter Thomas CBE.” Thomas is survived by his wife, four children, and nine grandchildren.
Cardiff’s off-field success during Thomas’s tenure included reaching the inaugural 1996 Heineken Champions Cup final, winning Europe’s second-tier Challenge Cup twice, and winning the now-defunct Anglo-Welsh Cup in 2009.
Welsh rugby experienced disputes and financial difficulties at the top level during Thomas’s era as an influential figure in the game.
Thomas’s father, Thomas Stanley Thomas, founded Thomas Pies in the 1950s, selling sausage rolls, pies, and pasties around the south Wales valleys.
Peter and his brother, Sir Stanley Thomas, later took over the family business and made their first fortune when they sold it for £75m in 1988.
In 1992, the brothers joined forces with fellow former Cardiff Rugby benefactor, and life patron, Paul Bailey to launch Thomas Bailey Investments.
Through TBI, the trio previously managed and operated more than 80 airports and owned Cardiff International Airport, Belfast International, Orlando Sandford International, Stockholm Skavsta and Luton Airport.
Thomas also launched Atlantic Property Developments, which has grown to become one of the leading property development companies in Wales and has a vast portfolio of commercial properties across the UK.
Incredibly sad day, proud to have known him greatful to have spent time with him, indebted for everything he has done for @Cardiff_Rugby
Sending my deepest condolences to the family my thoughts are with you all.
RIP Peter Thomas
— Josh Turnbull (@JoshTurn6ull) March 29, 2023