Welsh great Bleddyn Williams has died at the age of 86.
The legendary Williams claimed the unique distinction of captaining both club (Cardiff) and country (Wales) to victory over the touring New Zealand side in 1953. It proved to be the last time Wales have beaten the All Blacks.
Originally a fly-half, it was as a centre he made his name. He switched positions during the second World War and forged a formidable partnership with his life-long friend Dr Jack Matthews. Along with Billy Cleaver they are still revered as the best midfield trio Cardiff have ever produced.
Dubbed the 'Prince of Centres', Williams made his Wales debut against England in 1947 alongside his Cardiff colleagues Matthews and Cleaver. Williams went on to claim 22 Welsh caps. He was also given the honour of captaining his country on five different occasions and had a 100 per cent success rate. His last appearance for Wales was as captain in 1955 when he led his side against England to a 3-0 victory.
Williams's leadership qualities were utilized on the 1950 British and Irish Lions tour of New Zealand and Australia where he was vice-captain. He played in three Tests against New Zealand, captaining the side in the second and third Tests before leading the Lions to a 19-6 victory over Australia in the first Test in Brisbane where he also scored a try. He also played in the second Test and in total played in 20 of the 29 matches, scoring 12 tires, including a hat-trick against Ashburton County/North Otago.
Born in Taffs Well on 22 February, 1923, Williams became one of eight brothers who played for Cardiff. He joined the Royal Air Force at the start of the Second World War, where he flew gliders.
On his return, he went onto amass 185 tries for Cardiff RFC - in one season alone he crossed for 41 tries.
After hanging up his boots in 1955 as a 32-year-old, Williams began a career in the media. He was honoured with an MBE in the 2005 New Year Honours List at the age of 81.
WRU President Denis Gethin said: "It's very sad news to hear of the loss of one of the greats of not just Welsh and British but world rugby. I was very privileged to watch him play when I was a young boy in what I think was probably his last international which was a real treat.
"He was such a humble man with not an ounce of conceit in his body, but he was a man of great stature. I remember Graham Henry coming over to coach Wales and one of the first things he wanted to do when he got here was meet Bleddyn and Jack Matthews. Graham's father had met them on the Lions tour of New Zealand in the 1960s and been full of stories about these great people he had had the pleasure of spending time with.
"Bleddyn was also from a great rugby family and he would tell everyone who would listen that his older brother was the better player and that he enjoyed watching him play. Something like eight of his family played for Cardiff and his brother Lloyd was a Welsh captain but Bleddyn's attitude was always one of total humility."
Lifelong friend Cliff Morgan also paid tribute to his former team mate.
"There is a great sadness in my heart for I have not only lost a dear friend but Bleddyn Williams was a magical example to us all," he said.
"Bleddyn epitomised all the class of a truly great rugby player. 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. He was a star of the Lions Tour of New Zealand
in 1950 and an inspirational captain of Cardiff and Wales when the All Blacks were beaten by both teams in 1953.
"Away from his majestic qualities on the field, I will always remember with great warmth how he and his lovely wife, Violet, made everyone so welcome as part of the family of the Cardiff Rugby Club - the club where Bleddyn's seven brothers also played with considerable
"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. He was loved all around the rugby world and we will miss him."
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