London (AFP) – Wales great JJ Williams, a lethal finisher who became an emblematic figure of the golden era of Welsh rugby in the 1970s, has died at the age of 72.
Williams scored 12 tries in 30 Tests as Wales won four titles in the then-Five Nations, including two Grand Slams, in 1976 and 1978.
“All at Bridgend Ravens are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of former player JJ Williams,” said one of his former clubs, Bridgend.
Another former club, Llanelli, said: “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.”
A former sprinter who competed for Wales at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, Williams, born John James but known as JJ in part to distinguish him from brilliant Wales full-back John Peter Rhys (JPR) Williams, also scored five tries in seven Tests for the British and Irish Lions across two tours.
He was a key member of the combined side during the Lions’ unbeaten 1974 tour of South Africa.
On that trip, he equalled England star David Duckham’s record of six tries in a single Lions game during a 97-0 victory over South West Districts.
Williams also scored four tries in the subsequent 3-0 Test series triumph over the Springboks, becoming only the second Lions player to score two tries twice in a Test.
He scored another Test try for the Lions in New Zealand three years later.
Williams’s tally of five tries is second only to Ireland’s Tony O’Reilly, who scored six Test tries during the Lions tours of 1955 and 1959.