World Rugby Museum Home
final game against England 'RH' was approached by the Big 5 to see if he
was available for the Scotland match but he was not as he was due to
marry my mum so in fact his last game of rugby was the English
match……….he never played or wanted to play again. When the Scots game was
being played dad and Terry Davies the great full back were building a shed in my
dad’s garden!!!! What’s amazing is that he was 29 when he retired.
add Bristol info
There is no new thing under
the sun, according to the Good Book. As controversy rages worldwide over
prospective law changes to the set-piece in rugby's good book, particularly the
legislation relating to the scrum, it is true to say that feelings ran just as
high fifty years ago, when radical alterations to the rules governing the
line-out were first introduced.
The result of the changes in 1954 was to nullify the effective technique of Neath's salmon-leaping line-out ace, Roy John, whose modus operandi depended for its success on the patterned blocking of his props and second-row partners. When the International Rugby Board outlawed this so-called wedge method, a new breed of line-out expert who could hold his own in the absence of minders was sought.
Step forward Rhys Haydn Williams - or "R H" as he was always affectionately known. Williams was the player who admirably filled the part for
"Rhys Williams added vigour to the Welsh eight," noted one correspondent after the new lock had made his debut against
His versatility about the field that day confused the editor of the Playfair Rugby Annual. Admittedly there were four Williamses in the side that defeated Scotland in Swansea's last-ever Five Nations match, and two of them - Ray (a wing from Llanelli) and Billy (the Swansea prop) scored tries. But Owen L Owen in his summary of the game for the Annual somehow managed to attribute the first Welsh try to big R H. The player cleared matters up years later, emphasising with typical modesty that he had never managed to score a try for
He was at the heart of his country's efforts again in 1955, another championship-sharing season, and his line-out prowess for the Lions in
Vivian Jenkins, in his cable to the Sunday Times in London, wrote: "The British [and Irish] forwards now began to warm to their work and were holding their own both in the scrums and line-outs with [Tom] Reid and Rhys Williams continually prominent. They were the giants of the piece. They took on the mammoth second-row men . . . at their own game, pushing like heroes and rising - literally - to heights previously unattained on tour."
Reid and Williams were at their fittest on that tour, though comparisons with the modern training regimes Lions parties follow when preparing for tours makes interesting reading. Big R H "trained" with bricks (as improvised dumb-bells) when the Lions assembled at
In 1956, a fresh challenge to Welsh supremacy was launched by a new-look
Several barren seasons followed for
He was greeted as a "blood-brother" by the magnificent
Vivian Jenkins put R H's contribution to that victory sharply into perspective in his tour book, Lions Down Under. "One should have added," Jenkins wrote, "that Rhys Williams played a vital part at a critical period in the second half by winning six line-outs in a row."
The All Blacks rated Williams good enough to play for
After ten successive Lions Test appearances between 1955 and 1959 - a then record - he came home from
R H had made his Llanelli debut as a teenaged student in 1949-50. Playing for
In later years he disclosed that the achievement that gave him the greatest satisfaction as a Scarlet was leading the club to four victories over
Apart from his beloved Scarlets, he also had a soft spot for South African rugby and many of the landmarks in his notable playing career were to involve the Springboks. His first taste of the big time came in the autumn of 1951 when he turned out for his club against Basil Kenyon's tourists. Llanelli were beaten 11-20 but J B G Thomas, in the Western Mail, had noted the young second-row's promise. "In the Llanelly pack," he wrote, "R H Williams was always going well."
On the strength of his performance against the tourists he was invited to play for the Whites (the junior side) in the first Welsh Trial, but he couldn't oust Roy John, the established Welsh line-out jumper, from the side that was subsequently chosen to represent Wales against South Africa in December in a match billed as for the Championship of the World.
R H meanwhile had entered the RAF on National Service as an education officer after graduating from
For many years he was a production superintendent with the Steel Company of
He also put a lot back into the game he loved, serving the Welsh Rugby Union as an administrator for more than a dozen years. After cutting his committee teeth at Llanelli and then with junior clubs in Cardiff, he joined the WRU advisory coaching committee before being approached to stand as a national representative in 1975 when his former Wales second-row partner, Rees Stephens, stood down through ill health.
A strong candidate, R H became a selector, managed the Wales B team that visited
He died, aged 62, in January 1993 and was widely mourned. Numerous Lions of the 1950s vintages turned out to pay their final respects to the man whose deeds in the engine-room of the pack enabled others to shine.
Born: 14 July 1930 Died: 27 January 1993
Clubs: RAF, Combined Services, Llanelli
Debut: v Ireland, 13 March 1954
Wales career: 1954 I, F, S, 1955 S, I, F, 1956 E, S, I, 1957 E, S, I, F, 1958 A, E, S, I, F, 1959 E, S, I, F, 1960 E
Caps: 23 Points: 0
Lions career: Toured South Africa with the 1955 side. 15 matches (including all four Test). Toured
Acknowlegements - John Griffiths - Steve Williams - Dai Richards - Mark Hoskins -
World Rugby Museum Home