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Wales, British and Irish Lions fullback JPR Williams passes away, aged 74

J. P. R. Williams reacts as he is introduced to the Centre Court crowd before the start of play during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on July 08, 2023, in London, England. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
8th January, 2024
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Former Wales and British and Irish Lions fullback JPR Williams has died at the age of 74.

An aggressive player known for his attacking style, the full-back was regarded as a titan of Welsh rugby, earning 55 caps in Scarlet and starring in victorious Lions tours to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa in 1974.

Making his debut against Scotland in 1969, he would enjoy a twelve-year-long career, playing his final test match against the Scots in Murrayfield.

(Photo by PA Images via Getty Images)

Fellow Welsh greats Sir Gareth Edwards, Phil Bennett, and Gerald Davies all revered his skills as a rugby player.

On top of his success at the highest level, he is regarded as one of the strongest players to ever play for London Welsh and was part of several famous Barbarians squads, including their unforgettable 23-11 victory over New Zealand in 1973 that featured what many fans regard as a length of the field move considered to be one of the greatest tries of all time.

His death was announced by Bridgend Ravens, a club where Williams served as a player and as club president.

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“Bridgend Ravens are devastated to announce the passing of JPR Williams,” the club said in a statement.

“An icon of the world game, John Peter Rhys Williams served Bridgend Ravens as a player and most recently as club president. He was capped 55 times for Wales and made eight Test appearances for the British and Irish Lions.

“Highlights of his illustrious career included winning two Schweppes Cup titles with Bridgend in 1979 and 1980, and three (Five Nations) Grand Slams in 1971, 1976 and 1978 for Wales.

“Following his retirement from the game, JPR became a key figure of the club’s administrative team, serving as Bridgend Ravens club president – a role he held until his passing.

“JPR’s passing leaves a huge void at the club, and our thoughts are with his friends and family at this sad time.”

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Many clubs, including World Rugby and the British and Irish Lions, offered condolences to Williams’ family. London Welsh FC also released a statement in support of their former player, who enjoyed an eight-year stint at the club.

“All at London Welsh RFC are deeply saddened by the news this evening that rugby legend JPR Williams has passed away,” the club said.

“Our thoughts and condolences go out to his friends, colleagues and family. A huge loss to all who knew and loved him.”

The Barbarians said: “Very sad news as we lose one of rugby’s greats. A man who will always have a special place in the hearts and history of our club.

“Rest in Peace, JPR.”

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