He was one of the first recognised coaches in British rugby and became the first coach to the British Lions when they went to Australia and New Zealand in 1966.
Among the many tributes paid to him, here are a few from his playing colleagues and former students at Loughborough College.
John Taylor - ex-Loughborough College student, Wales and British Lions back row forward
"John was very much my mentor at Loughborough and I've got him to thank for turning me from a weak centre into a muscular back row forward. He changed our horizons as young men and taught us the true meaning and value of fitness; he was way ahead of his time.
"In terms of fitness John was a real slave-driver. Many was the time players would have to duck out of the Victory Hall to be sick during his sessions. He drove us hard, yet he was never a bully and always called us 'Gentlemen'.
"He was the kind of person who immediately commanded respect because we not only knew his background as a Grand Slam forward with Wales and a Test Lion, but often saw him demonstrate skills to us. He was an immense presence at Loughborough and he was revered by his students."
Jack Matthews - Wales and British Lions team mate
"John was always very fit, fast and powerful. Because of his background at Loughborough he took many of the fitness sessions on board ship as the 1950 Lions travelled to New Zealand. He had a great idea of how the game should be played and was a wonderful tourist."
John Gwilliam - Captain of the 1950 Wales Grand Slam side
"John was a forward ahead of his time because he was so fit and fast: I had a problem trying to keep up with him. He was able to do the basics very well in the front row and loved to have the ball in his hands. He was also a very good goal kicker."
Gerald Davies - ex Loughborough College student, Wales and British Lions
"John always argued that we should follow the New Zealand example of 'getting fit to play rugby, rather than playing rugby to get fit'."
Rex Hazeldine - ex-Loughborough College student and Director of Rugby at the University
"John was at Loughborough when I first went there as a student in 1959 and he left a lasting impression on me. He was the first coach the College had had and, despite his quiet demeanour, he had a very strong and forceful personality.
"He really was on the ground floor of coaching in British rugby and started a culture at Loughborough that paved the way for sustained success. He was notorious for his fitness sessions in the Victory Hall and told us all that we would only get out of life what we were prepared to put in.
"Even compared to modern day training sessions John's were particularly brutal, although they put some steel into the students that enabled them to compete against much bigger, more mature and older club sides. It was largely through his work at Loughborough that he was invited to become the first coach with the British Lions in 1966.
"John was a hero to us in the late fifties; he had been there and done it all. He gave us total commitment and he expected, and largely got, the same back. He had a big influence on some great players and notable future coaches.
"One of the great things about John was that he never moaned about anything, he just got on with things. I can recall walking with him on an exercise in the Peak District with some students when he set the pace for all of us over the full three days.
"When one of the students had very sore feet, John took his pack and simply kept on marching ahead. That was John Robins; a man ahead of his time."