Rugby: Barry John, legendary Wales fly-half, dies

He was considered a rugby legend, known for constituting with scrum-half Gareth Edwards one of the greatest hinges in Wales, even in the history of rugby

Rugby: Barry John, legendary Wales fly-half, dies

He was considered a rugby legend, known for constituting with scrum-half Gareth Edwards one of the greatest hinges in Wales, even in the history of rugby. Barry John, the former opening half of the Leek XV, died at the age of 79, his family announced on Sunday February 4. “Barry John died peacefully today at the University Hospital in Wales, surrounded by his loving wife and four children,” the former international’s family announced.

After his international debut in 1967, at the age of 22, against Australia, Barry John won two Five Nations Tournaments in 1969 and 1970. But the man who totaled 25 caps in the Welsh red jersey had definitely entered the legend in 1971.

That year, Barry John contributed, along with Gareth Edwards, fullback JPR Williams and Mervyn Davies, some of a golden generation, to the Welsh final victory in the Five Nations Tournament and Grand Slam. , the first in the XV of Leek since 1952.

“The world has never seen the best of Barry John”

A few months later, he guided the British and Irish Lions to a winning streak on their tour of New Zealand. During this tour where the talented fly-half had played 17 of the 26 matches, the Lions had won two of the four test matches against the All Blacks, for a draw and only one defeat.

After a truncated edition of the 1972 Tournament, he bowed out prematurely, at just 27 years old, in full glory. “I felt less and less close to the people. Some others had fun, not me, he later confided. I was no longer sufficiently equipped mentally and physically to continue to face high-level rugby. »

“Barry was going to reach his zenith. He should have stayed playing longer. The world has never seen the best of Barry John,” lamented Mervyn Davies, his former teammate, in the book The Lions of Wales.

The death of Barry John comes less than a month after that of JPR Williams, one of his former accomplices in the hegemony of Welsh rugby in the 1970s, on January 8 at the age of 74.