GERALD DAVIES CBE DL is a former Wales and British Lions rugby union wing and one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams, including Gareth Edwards, JPR Williams, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins and Alun Wyn Jones.
Blessed with a brilliant sidestep and searing pace, Davies is widely regarded as one of the finest wingers to have played the game. He was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame in 1992 and the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2015.
Davies amassed 46 caps for Wales between 1966 and 1978 and scored 20 tries. He played a full part in the 1971 Grand Slam – the first of three in seven years.
The British Lions tour to New Zealand later that year saw Davies at the peak of his powers, and three tries in the final two Tests against the All Blacks helped secure a famous series victory.
Davies captained his country on the 1978 tour of Australia, the last time he was seen on the international stage, although he would go on to manage the British and Irish Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa.
He would have toured as a player with the 1974 Lions Tour in South Africa, but turned the opportunity down on his personal uncomfortable position at the consequences and realities of apartheid.
Davies was elected to the post of president of the Welsh Rugby Union in 2019, having previously served as a national representative on the board of directors of the WRU from 2005-14.
Born Thomas Gerald Reames Davies on February 7, 1945, in Llansaint, Carmarthenshire, he attended Queen Elizabeth Grammar School in Carmarthen. Under the local coal miners scholarship scheme, he went on to Loughborough University, before studying at Emmanuel College, University of Cambridge and appearing for the University rugby team.
Davies later taught at Christ’s Hospital in Horsham, Sussex, from 1971 to 1974, when he took up a post with the Sports Council for Wales.
Davies played club rugby for Cardiff RFC and London Welsh. He captained Cardiff for three seasons in the 1970s, one of his most famous games for Cardiff being a 1977–78 Welsh Cup tie against Pontypool when he scored four tries to earn his side a 16–11 win.
He made his international debut on Saturday, December 3, 1966, against Australia in Cardiff, where Wales lost 14–11 – he was to face the Wallabies again in his final appearance for Wales in 1978, this time in Sydney, and again a loss.
All in all, he was capped 46 times for his country. He was switched from his original position of centre to the right wing by Wales coach Clive Rowlands on their 1969 tour of Australia and New Zealand, and thereafter played in that position.
Davies toured with the British Lions in 1968 and 1971 and was part of the group of Welsh ’70s legends, ranking in rugby history alongside the likes of Edwards, Barry John, JPR Williams, Phil Bennett and Bobby Windsor.
A superb attacking player, with an excellent hand-off to keep would-be tacklers at bay, he is regarded as one of the best and most exciting wingers rugby has ever seen.
Davies produced many great rugby memories for those lucky enough to see him in full-flowing action, one such being his try – one of 20 in 46 Tests – in the 1971 Five Nations match against Scotland. The Scots were leading before Davies scored in the corner in the final minute. Back-rower John Taylor then kicked a famous conversion to steal victory.
Davies also scored eight tries in 10 games for the Barbarians invitational side, including a hat-trick against Wasps in 1967.
He unfortunately withdrew injured from the Baa-Baas team on the morning of the famous match against the All Blacks in 1973, but was back in the side against them the following year.
He also made his second appearance against the Wallabies in 1976 and brought down the curtain on a distinguished Barbarian career by captaining the team against the British Lions in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Match at Twickenham in September 1977.
After retiring as a player, Davies became a journalist, writing on rugby matters for The Times. He sat on Tasker Watkins’ committee to reform Welsh rugby.
He became chairman of the Wales Youth Agency, and his commitment to youth work earned him a CBE in 2002.
Davies holds Honorary Fellowships from the University of Wales, Lampeter, and the University of Wales, Aberystwyth. He was awarded an Honorary Fellowship from Cardiff University in a graduation ceremony held in July 2008, the same month as he received an honorary degree from Loughborough University for services to sport and journalism. He is also a Deputy Lieutenant of Gwent.
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