JJ Williams obituary

Winger for Wales and Lions who was key to the success of Welsh rugby union in the 1970s

The Wales and British and Irish Lions wing JJ Williams, who has died aged 72 of cancer, helped grace a golden era in the 1970s for the Welsh rugby union side. So high was their profile in Wales that the leading players were recognised by their initials or first names – JJ, JPR, Mervyn, Gareth, Gerald and Phil. Yet such was Williams’s all-round athletic prowess that he could have forged a sporting career on the track rather than in the scarlet shirt of Llanelli and Wales. He was a Welsh Secondary Schools international at rugby union and athletics, and represented his country as a sprinter in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh.

His decision after Edinburgh to concentrate on rugby brought joy to the followers of the game in Wales and supporters of the Lions. Williams went on to win 30 caps and score 12 tries for his country, and he appeared in seven Tests for the Lions in South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand three years later. In South Africa, on the most successful Lions tour of all time, Williams rewrote the rugby record books.

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