Welsh rugby will turn out in force to pay its respects to 'Prince of Centres', Bleddyn Williams, at Llandaff Cathedral, Cardiff tomorrow (Friday 17th July) from 2pm, as the funeral of one of the true world-renowned legends of our national game takes place.
A full tribute, which includes footage filmed this week at the Millennium Stadium - where Williams had remained a regular guest at Welsh rugby internationals - will also be shown later in the day, on BBC 1 Wales from 7.30pm.
Williams was the last Welshman to captain his country to victory over New Zealand, he died in Cardiff on Monday (13th July 2009) at the age of 86 and is survived by a son, two daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren..
Bleddyn Williams MBE - 1923/2009
Bleddyn Williams, the Welsh rugby player known and respected worldwide as the "Prince of Centres" and the last Welshman to captain his country to victory over New Zealand, died in Cardiff on Monday at the age of 86.
Williams, a magnificent passer of the ball and blessed with the definitive Welsh sidestep, led Wales to a 13-8 win over Bob Stuart's 1953 touring All Blacks three weeks after captaining his club Cardiff to an 8-3 victory over the New Zealanders.
Born in Taffs Well on 22 February, 1923, Bleddyn Llewellyn Williams was one of eight brothers and four sisters, and had his sporting skills honed at Rydal School in north Wales before going on to score 185 tries in 283 appearances for Cardiff.
He scored seven tries in 22 Welsh appearances between 1947 and 1955 and on the five occasions he captained Wales there were five victories. A 1950 British & Irish Lions tourist to Australasia, he captained the Lions in three of the five Tests in which he played. He retired in 1955 at the age of 32 and became an authorative commentator on the game.
Passing away at Holme Tower medical centre in Cardiff just days after another Lions tour has been completed, Williams had always insisted: "I count my blessings that I played the game when I did, when you played rugby for the love of the game and the immense pride of representing your club and country.
"That was reward enough for us but now chasing the dollar, pound or Euro seems to be king and the game is the poorer for it. The game is a commercial venture that has had its soul ripped out.
"And - in complete contrast to today's situation with a team of highly paid coaches - in 1950 we didn't even have a single coach. Karl Mullen, the Lions tour captain, looked after the forwards and I looked after the backs.
"The 32-match tour lasted for six-and-a half-months, including five weeks on the boat each way, going out through the Panama Canal and back through the Suez and as Ken Jones and John Robins were both PE teachers they kept us going in keeping fit."
Williams played in 20 of the Lions' 29 matches and scored 12 tries, including one in the first Test win over Australia in Brisbane, and rugby was never far away where Williams was concerned, even during the height of the Second World War.
Williams joined the RAF as a 20-year-old and, after training near Phoenix in Arizona, went on to rise to the rank of Flight Lieutenant, flying gliders in behind enemy lines.
"I had been selected to play for Great Britain against the Dominions at Leicester," he recalled. "The weekend before that I did a glider drop over the Rhine and on the Friday I was still in Germany, having spent six nights sleeping in a slit trench with only an American parachute for cover.
"On that Friday the major in charge, Hugh Bartlett - who captained the Sussex cricket team - asked me if I was playing the next day and when I said I had a fat chance of that he said 'pack your bags because you are off.'
"He drove me to the Rhine, which I crossed on a barge, and then on to the base in Eindoven. From Holland I was flown to Brize Norton where my CO picked me up and flew me back to base camp at Rivenhall, where I arrived around midnight.
"My wife Violet and I had only recently married - she thought I had been killed when she was told only two of the glider pilots on that mission had survived - but we made it to Leicester by lunchtime, I scored a try and Great Britain won the match."
While Williams, who was honoured with an MBE in the 2005 New Year's Honours List, was one of Welsh rugby favourite and most celebrated sons, the friendships he forged through the game - particularly with New Zealand opponents - remained strong and true to the end.
Cliff Morgan, a former team-mate and close friend, said: "Those of us who were fortunate enough to play with him will always say Bleddyn was a true rugby man for he taught us the old-fashioned principles of courtesy and courage.
"His love of the open, running game set him apart - his glorious side-step; his perfectly timed pass; his speed and strength - made him a very special world class centre.
"There is a great sadness in my heart for I have not only lost a dear friend but Bleddyn was a magical example to us all and we will miss him."
Bleddyn Williams is survived by a son, two daughters, four grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Wales U20 duo Leon Brown and Lloyd Lewis face a busy couple of weeks ahead. Not only will they have a Junior World Championship to take part in, they are both sitting A Level exams during the competition.
Wales U20 face a tough group in the Junior World Championship with France, England and Japan lying in wait but Attack coach Jason Strange and back rower Tom Phillips are looking forward to the campaign ahead.
Angus O'Brien has quickly settled into the Wales Sevens squad after solid performances in Hong Kong and Japan. With two rounds remaining in Glasgow and Twickenham on the World Series, WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie chats to the rising star.
Wales winger Luke Morgan has established himself as one of the deadliest finishers on the Sevens World Series. WRU TV's Graeme Gillespie catches up with him on the eve of this weekend's round in Glasgow.
All roads lead to Cardiff on Sunday for the SSE SWALEC Finals Day at the Millennium Stadium. Cambrian Welfare tackle Ystradgynlais in the Bowl final, Ystrad Rhondda play Newcastle Emlyn in the Plate final while defending champions Pontypridd face Bridgend in the Cup final.
WRU Chief Executive Roger Lewis, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport and Tourism Ken Skates and WRU Chairman Gareth Davies earlier this week launched a new competition in conjunction with the WRU unveiling its archive room.
Welsh players and management joined Deputy Minister for Sport Ken Skates at the Pierhead Building, Cardiff Bay earlier this week to reveal the Union's pioneering school-club hub initiative has been so successful the project will now almost double the scale of the original project.
The Scarlets, Newport Gwent Dragons, Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys look ahead to Judgement Day III which sees the Blues take on the Ospreys (2.30) and the Dragons tackle the Scarlets (4.45pm) at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow afternoon.
Ystradgynlais and Ynysddu played out a titanic struggle at Taffs Well in the SSE SWALEC Bowl semi-final. At the end of the game neither team could be separated after a 15-15 stalemate but Ystradgynlais go through on try count.