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Barry John dead: ‘The King’ of Rugby who is considered one of the sport’s all-time greats dies aged 79

  • Former Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half Barry John has died aged 79
  • John made 25 appearances for Wales between 1966 and 1972, scoring 90 points

Wales rugby great Barry John has died at the age of 79.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half died peacefully in hospital, his family announced.

John, who was nicknamed The King by New Zealand journalists after he inspired the Lions’ famous 1971 Test series victory over the All Blacks, won 25 Wales caps between 1966 and 1972.

He also played in five Lions Tests on their 1968 and 1971 tours, before retiring from rugby at the age of 27.

A statement released by John’s family read: “Barry John died peacefully today at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his loving wife and four children.

Legendary former Wales fly-half Barry John has passed away at the age of 79

Legendary former Wales fly-half Barry John has passed away at the age of 79

John made 25 appearances for Wales between 1966 and 1972 and featured in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions

John made 25 appearances for Wales between 1966 and 1972 and featured in five Tests for the British and Irish Lions

John enjoyed a famous half-back partnership with Sir Gareth Edwards(right) before retiring from rugby at 27

John enjoyed a famous half-back partnership with Sir Gareth Edwards(right) before retiring from rugby at 27

“He was a loving dad to his 11 grandchildren and a much-loved brother.”

John played his club rugby for Llanelli and then Cardiff, where he struck up a half-back partnership with Gareth Edwards that went on to flourish for Wales and the Lions.

John was partnered by Edwards in 23 of his Wales international appearances, plus all five Lions Tests – one against South Africa and four against New Zealand.

Another star of Welsh rugby’s golden era, full-back JPR Williams, died four weeks ago.

Jonathan Davies, one of the most renowned Welsh players of the 1980s and 1990s, paid tribute to John, writing on X: “RIP Barry – another one of my heroes sadly gone.’

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