J P R WILLIAMS
|Date of Birth:||02/03/1949|
|Place of Birth:||Cardiff|
His first tour, to Argentina, was an
inauspicious one for the team but, as with his next Welsh tour to
Australasia nine months later, he shone out amongst the debris of
lost causes around him. He quickly established a reputation as the
first of the modern running full-backs who came to terms with the
new laws restricting direct kicks to touch. He ran not just in
attack but also out of defence, being particularly effective with
his ever-changing angles of running and scissors’ passes with Gerald
Davies. His faultless catching of the high ball and uncompromising
tackling added to his fearless profile.
JPR played brilliantly for the 1971 and 1974 Lions. Both New Zealand and South Africa saw for themselves his full range of skills in attack and defence. In the third test of 1971 he memorably ran back a high catch near his own line to set up a try at the other end, then against North Auckland he almost single-handedly repelled wave after wave of attacks by the Going brothers. Three years later in South Africa he gave a virtuoso display of catching every loose kick and immediately counter-attacking with deadly effect in the second and third tests.
The final part of the seemingly indestructible JPR image was created in his later years. Always known for his enthusiasm to "mix it' and train with the forwards, he played at flanker in a test against Australia on the Welsh tour of 1978. Then, having retired from international rugby, he returned to face the 1980 All Blacks. "JPR is ready to return!" proclaimed the press. He did. Wales were well beaten, but not before JPR Williams put in one final enveloping tackle on a charging Bernie Fraser.
He made his final appearance during Wales' 6-15 defeat at the hands of Scotland at Murrayfield in February 1981.
|Dropping an unlikely goal against New Zealand in the Fourth Test to tie the match.|
|A surgeon by trade, JPR won 55 caps for Wales in a career that spanned three decades, going on the Lions tours of 1971 and 1974. John Williams, as he was then known, was a Junior Wimbledon tennis champion when he first made the national rugby squad in the autumn of 1968.|