J. P. R. Williams
|Birth name||John Peter Rhys Williams|
|Date of birth||2 March 1949|
|Place of birth||Bridgend, Wales|
|School||Brynteg Comprehensive School|
|University||St Mary's Hospital, London|
|Rugby union career|
John Peter Rhys Williams MBE FRCS (born 2 March 1949) is a former rugby union footballer who represented Wales in international rugby during their Golden Era in the 1970s. He became known universally as J. P. R. Williams (or sometimes just as JPR) after 1973 when JJ Williams (also John) joined the Welsh team.
Playing in the position of fullback, he was noted for his aggressive attacking style. With his long sideboards and socks around his ankles, "JPR" was an iconic figure on the legendary 1970s Wales team. However, despite playing fullback throughout his international career, his favourite position was flanker, where he played for Tondu at the end of his career.
Williams was born just outside Bridgend, Wales, and was educated at Bridgend Boys Grammar School (now Brynteg Comprehensive School) and then Millfield School in Somerset, as was his Wales team mate Gareth Edwards. As well as being a rugby player, Williams was in his youth a talented tennis player; in 1968 he played one of the first matches in the Open Era, at the Hard Court Championships of Great Britain. There is a myth that he won Junior Wimbledon in 1966 (in fact it was won by a Soviet, Vladimir Korotkov). However, he did win a British Junior competition that was held that same year at the Wimbledon venue, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, beating David Lloyd. The myth appears in his autobiography "So by the time of Junior Wimbledon in 1966....it began to sink in that I was the 1966 Junior Wimbledon Champion"
Williams' focus moved from tennis to rugby union, which was an amateur sport, in order to pursue a career in medicine. He quickly attracted attention and was consequently first capped by Wales in 1969, aged 19. He went on to earn 55 caps for Wales, five as captain, and eight for the British and Irish Lions. He played club rugby for Bridgend, London Welsh and Tondu. He also played a few games for Natal shortly after the 1974 Lions tour.
Williams had many high points in his career, being a key player in a Welsh side that won Grand Slams in 1971, 1976, and 1978, and is particularly remembered for his record against England. In 10 tests between Wales and England he scored five tries – exceptional for a fullback – and was never on the losing side. He was also outstanding for the Lions, winning the 1971 series against New Zealand with a long-range drop-goal. In the 1974 'invincible' series against South Africa he again played a major role.
He is known for developing the role of the fullback, in particular attacking from a defensive position often following an audacious jump for a high ball. He is also remembered for his part in The greatest try ever scored.
Williams chose not to go on the 1977 British Lions tour to New Zealand, after being advised by his consultant to focus on his medical career. In the same year he was appointed MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to Rugby.
Williams was one of the inaugural inductees of the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997.
Williams retired from international rugby union in 1981 and continued his career as an orthopaedic surgeon. However, he continued to play club rugby for many years, playing throughout the 1980s and 1990s for Bridgend and then for Tondu Thirds into his fifties. He finally retired in March 2003.
Williams studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, qualifying as a physician in 1973. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1980. In 2012 was chosen by Move Sports to be the ambassador of the 2012 Portugal Rugby Festival.
In 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge; he was convicted and banned from driving for seventeen months.
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