JJ Williams, former Wales and Lions great, dies aged 72

JJ Williams, former Wales and Lions great, dies aged 72

The former Wales and British & Irish Lions wing JJ Williams has died at the age of 72.

Williams, who was christened John James but known throughout the world of rugby by his initials, was one of the finest finishers in the game’s history. He scored 12 tries in 30 appearances for Wales and won grand slams in 1976 and 1978, as well as four triple crowns between 1976 and 1979.

One of his former clubs, Bridgend Ravens, tweeted: “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.”

Another former club, Llanelli, tweeted: “It is with great sadness that we hear of the passing of the great JJ Williams. We would like to extend our sincerest condolences to his family, friends and former teammates.”

Williams toured South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand in 1977 with the Lions and his try-scoring exploits put him into the tourists’ record books. He equalled David Duckham’s record of six tries in a single Lions game during a 97-0 victory against South West Districts in 1974.

Williams scored four tries in the subsequent 3-0 Test series triumph against South Africa, becoming only the second Lions player to score two tries twice in a Test. He scored another Test try in New Zealand three years later and his five-try Test haul is second only to Ireland’s Tony O’Reilly, who crossed six times during the Lions tours of 1955 and 1959.