JJ Williams: Legendary Wales and British and Irish Lions wing dies

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JJ Williams in Lions action in 1977 in New Zealand
John James Williams was known as JJ to avoid a clash of identity with the other John Williams in Wales’ rugby team, the legendary full-back JPR Williams

Legendary Wales, British and Irish Lions and Llanelli wing JJ Williams has died at the age of 72.

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.

He sparkled on their unbeaten tour of South Africa in 1974, scoring two tries in each of the second and third Tests.

Huge success with Wales followed, as Williams helped his country win the Five Nations Championship four times between 1975 and 1979.

That included Grand Slams in 1976 and 1978 as Williams and his team-mates rubber-stamped their status as greats of not only Welsh rugby but the sport at large.

After retiring, Williams made a name for himself as an outspoken pundit, co-commentating on international and club rugby for BBC Wales.

Wales players will wear black armbands for Saturday’s Six Nations match against Scotland.

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac said: “On behalf of the national squad, management and team, our thoughts and condolences go out to JJ’s family and friends.

“It always is poignant when you have a player of that ilk passing away. We’ll show our respects by wearing the black armbands.”

One of Williams’ former clubs, Bridgend, tweeted on Thursday morning: “All at Bridgend Ravens are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player JJ Williams.

“Our thoughts are with JJ’s family and friends at this tough time.”

Former Wales second row Craig Quinnell, Williams’ godson, was another to pay tribute, tweeting: “It’s with a heavy heart I write this. My godfather. My friend. My mentor and a inspiration to me passed away today. He was a legend to all. RIP JJ.”





BBC News