British & Irish Lions legend Williams has passed away aged 72

The great Lions and Wales wing JJ Williams has passed away this morning.

John James Williams, forever to be known as JJ, was one of the deadliest finishers in world rugby and a key part of the success of both Wales and the British and Irish Lions during the 1970s.

He scored 12 tries in 30 Tests as Wales won four Five Nations titles, including two Grand Slams, during the 1970s.

A former sprinter who represented Wales at the Commonwealth Games, Williams also scored five tries in seven Tests for the Lions across two tours.

One of his former clubs, Bridgend, confirmed the news on Thursday morning.

His most famous feat – 4 tries in the same 4-match Lions’ Test series – ensures he will be talked about as long as rugby is played.

Three of Williams’ children also represented Wales in athletics, including son Rhys Williams, a European champion hurdler.

RUCK sends our deepest sympathy to his family; Jane, Kathryn, James and Rhys.


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Fullback: JPR Williams (Wales)

“In attack, JPR was to be seen either working in tandem with his wing three-quarters or terrifying defensive lines. He was also a towering figure in defence, safe as houses under a high ball and with a penchant for demolishing attackers.”

Wing: Gerald Davies (Wales)

“I have so many fond memories of seeing him taking on opponents – often with a swagger which very few have the right to exhibit. He wove, he probed, he varied his angles of running and was always in position to counter attack from deep in tandem with his full-back.”

Centre: Jeremy Guscott (England)

“Jerry restored fans’ faith in the aesthetic and artistic qualities of the game. I always appreciated his effortless style. Opponents were unable to predict whether he was going to run, pass or kick. Everything he did was instinctive and this made him a very difficult player to read.”

Centre: Mike Gibson (Ireland)

“Mike Gibson was the complete footballer, ‘phenomenal’ according to The New Zealand Rugby Annual. In an interview, Brian O’Driscoll paid a sincere tribute to one of Irish rugby’s greatest ever players: ‘At times when Irish rugby wasn’t successful, he was always the shining light.”

Winger: JJ Williams (Wales)

““His combination of electrifying speed and breathtaking audacity disarmed organised defences on the Lions tour of South Africa in 1974. In an interview, Brian O’Driscoll paid a sincere tribute to one of Irish rugby’s greatest ever players: ‘At times when Irish rugby wasn’t successful, he was always the shining light.”

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