Welsh rugby legend Barry John dies


One of the heroes in the golden age of Welsh rugby, Barry John, died on Sunday at the age of 79 in the University Hospital of Wales.

“His wife and four children were with him. He was a loving daddy (grandfather) for his 11 grandchildren and a beloved brother,” his family shared in an official statement.

In his playing days, John formed a formidable link pair with another Welsh rugby legend, Gareth Edwards.

In addition to his blistering game in the red of the Red Dragons, he also excelled for the British and Irish Lions and it was his game on the tour to New Zealand in 1971 in particular that stood out.

John scored 180 points in 16 tour matches, while he was also responsible for 30 of his side’s 48 Test points.

The Lions won the series 2-1 and the New Zealand rugby fans immediately dubbed John “The King”.

“To get a nickname like that while every free forward in New Zealand is trying to knock you down is definitely a big pat on the back,” said Terry Cobner, president of the Welsh Rugby Union.

Cobner, who played on the flank for Wales and the Lions in his playing days, believes that John could, as it were, do magic with a rugby ball.

“At times it looked like he would rather float past his opponents than show off his pipe-can skills. After the recent deaths of Brian Price and JPR Williams, Barry’s death is another big blow to Welsh rugby.”

“As far as I’m concerned, he’s certainly one of the very best fly-halfs to ever play. After his brilliant performance against New Zealand in 1971, we guys who followed in his footsteps knew we would have to give it our very best. He will always remain a legend of the game.”

John put away his rugby boots at the age of 27 after the media spotlight began to shine a little too brightly on him, but by then he already had a Grand Slam, two Triple Crown triumphs and of course the British and Irish Lions success to his name. boasted

“I was certainly rugby’s first superstar. I didn’t want to announce my retirement, but the circumstances played a big role. I was listless and tired; something you can’t afford when you’re an international flyhalf,” John said in an interview with Wales Online at the time.

According to the player, he knew things were getting out of hand when people bowed to him while he was marketing a bank in north Wales.

“This convinced me that things are not normal at all. I started to lose track of real people and I didn’t want it to go on like that.”

For many rugby fans – not just in Wales – Barry John will always remain “The King”.