7 Jul 2009

Welsh rugby legend Bleddyn Williams dies

12:08 pm on 7 July 2009

Welsh and British and Irish Lions legend Bleddyn Williams, known as the 'Prince of Centres', has died aged 86.

Williams was capped 22 times by Wales after making his debut in 1947 and captained both his country and the Lions including the last time the Welsh beat the All Blacks back in 1953.

He was vice-captain of the 1950 Lions on their tour of New Zealand and Australia - losing three Tests to the All Blacks and a draw in the other while they beat the Wallabies in their two Tests - but stepped up as skipper for two Tests when Irishman Karl Mullen was injured.

In total Williams played in 20 of the Lions' 29 matches and scored 13 tries, including one in the first Test win over Australia in Brisbane.

Williams was also one of eight brothers to play for Cardiff where he forged a formidable midfield partnership with his life-long friend Dr Jack Matthews.

Possessed of a tremendous side-step and great pace, Williams was also a fierce tackler, a great reader of the game and an inspirational leader which earned him his nickname.

Williams was a glider pilot with the Royal Air Force during World War II and after his playing days ended pursued a career as a rugby journalist.

Welsh Rugby Union President Denis Gethin paid tribute to Williams. "It's very sad news to hear of the loss of one of the greats of not just Welsh and British but world rugby," he said.