JPR Williams

24. JPR Williams

Performers (433 votes)

1949 –

Rugby legend, surgeon and one of the last great sporting amateurs.

What if JPR Williams had stuck to his first choice of sport and been to tennis what he is to rugby? Since Wales has never produced a great tennis player itís impossible to say if he would have been so revered in his homeland.

Though he claims not to have been good enough for the professional circuit, nobody wins Junior Wimbledon by accident. Despite that 1966 victory, he chose instead to continue his medical studies. He could still play rugby too - then still a strictly amateur game.

For that decision everyone who witnessed Walesís thrilling performances of the 1970ís -the decade spanned by JPRís international career- will always be grateful.

With socks perpetually at half-mast, droopy sideburns and long hair retained long past their sartorial sell-by date, John Peter Rhys Williams was one of the most recognisable figures in sport.

Awesomely efficient in defence, he was unshakeable under the high ball while those unfortunate enough to experience the JPR tackle tended to stay that way.

He seemed able to appear from nowhere to rescue a desperate situation. Many a would-be try scorer, having broken through the Welsh defence, would then have his weekend comprehensively ruined just milliseconds before reaching the line.

In keeping with his all-rounder reputation he could also join the forwards when required. He once turned out as a flanker for an injury-ravaged Wales on tour in Australia.

Between 1969 and 1981, JPR helped Wales to six Triple Crowns and three Grand Slams, captaining the side in 1979. He faced England on ten occasions and was never on the losing side. As a British Lion he took part in series wins over both South Africa and New Zealand.

He ruled himself out of Lions tour in 1977 in order to concentrate on

forthcoming surgeons exams Ė these being the days when top players still had day jobs to worry about.

In that sense JPR is arguably one of the last great sporting amateurs. He was still turning out for Tondu Thirds at an age when most men prefer to spend their Saturday afternoons on the sofa.

What you said

the doctor who treated his own split eye during half time - just so he could continue playing - fantastic performer.

He brought a breathe of fresh air to the game and turned the role of full back into a counter attacking position, not to mention his care for injured players on the field regardless of their on field treatment of himself.

He was brilliant to watch on the pitch, when he get the ball there was no stopping the him.

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