Jpr At 70 - A Life In Rugby


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There are few sportsmen or women who are known by their initials alone. JPR Williams is one of them. A singular presence in rugby, there has never been, nor will ever be, another like him.

With his mutton chops, flowing locks and rolled-down socks he was instantly recognisable. An icon not just of Welsh rugby but of global sport. JPR is one of a select group of six Welshmen who won 3 Grand Slams in an international career that spanned three decades. He won 55 caps for Wales in an era when they reigned supreme – he took to the field 11 times against England and 11 times, he emerged victorious.

JPR also toured twice with the British Lions – in 1971 in New Zealand with the series 2-1 in the Lions favour, he dropped a goal from 45 metres that led to a drawn game and meant they still remain the only Lions side to win a test series against the All Blacks.
In 1974 he was a key member of the 'Invincibles' who won 21 of their 22 matches, drawing the final test with South Africa.

As he enters his eighth decade, Ross Harries celebrates John Peter Rhys Williams’ life in rugby in the company of some of those who know him best:
John Taylor, his teammate at London Welsh, Wales and the Lions and also best man at his wedding; Wales and Lions legends Phil Bennett and Steve Fenwick; former England captain and 71 Lions teammate Bob Hiller; and Wales centurion and Grand Slam-winning captain Gareth Thomas, himself another Bridgend old boy.

It’s widely accepted that he was one of a kind – unique and singular presence on the rugby field. JPR was fearless, he was peerless - but was he the greatest?

Ross Harries celebrates JPR Williams' life in rugby with those who know him best.