Though he was surrounded by a few of the best gamers within the historical past of rugby union, John Dawes, who has died aged 80, seldom made the headlines himself. As a substitute, he was a significant organising determine in a succession of nice groups, captaining London Welsh, Wales, the Barbarians and the British Lions (as they had been then identified) to a collection of notable victories.
His triumphs included a 5 Nations grand slam in 1971, the one collection victory up to now by the Lions in New Zealand later that very same yr, and the Barbarians’ win over the All Blacks in Cardiff in 1973, when he was among the many six gamers who dealt with the ball earlier than Gareth Edwards sprinted for the road to the touch down for what remains to be fondly recalled as one of the most joyously spectacular of tries.
Edwards, the nonpareil scrum-half, was one among a gaggle of Welsh gamers whose genius discovered a platform in groups skippered by Dawes. Others included the magical fly-half Barry John, the uncatchable wing Gerald Davies, the fearless full-back JPR Williams and the rampaging No 8 Mervyn Davies.
Dawes himself performed at centre threequarter, place from which to watch and assess the sport and, like an professional mechanic oiling and adjusting a finely tuned engine, to make sure that the ball flowed simply between his colleagues. Not a prolific try-scorer on the highest stage, he was nonetheless a grasp of the much less apparent arts at a time when rugby was a recreation of evasion relatively than collision.
When his taking part in days had been over, he took to teaching on the highest stage. He guided Wales to 2 additional grand slams in 1976 and 1978, both aspect of a much less blissful return to New Zealand with the Lions, who misplaced the collection 3-1. Later he grew to become president of London Welsh, the membership to which he had first utilized his enlightened rugby philosophy.
Like a lot of his Welsh teammates, Dawes emerged from a coal-mining background. Born in Chapel of Ease, a Monmouthshire village near the Ebbw River, he was the son of Gladys (nee Harris) and Reginald Dawes, a blacksmith on the close by South Celynen colliery. Whereas a pupil at Lewis college in Pengam, within the Rhymney Valley, he started coaching with Newbridge, a membership then sufficiently outstanding to have been included within the taking part in itinerary of a current Springboks tour. He represented Newbridge whereas finding out for a chemistry diploma at College Faculty Aberystwyth, switching from hooker to flank ahead earlier than selecting what grew to become his everlasting place within the centre.
He gained his instructing certificates at Loughborough Schools earlier than transferring to London, taking a job at a college in Hounslow and becoming a member of London Welsh at Outdated Deer Park in Richmond. Appointed captain in 1965, he set about devising new ways and calling the gamers in for coaching on two evenings per week relatively than one. Proving that expressive, free-running rugby may very well be a successful proposition, and that forwards akin to Mervyn Davies, Tony Gray and John Taylor might deal with the ball as successfully as backs akin to Gerald Davies and JPR, he remodeled a beforehand humdrum outfit into essentially the most feared membership aspect in Britain.
Dawes scored a strive on his worldwide debut, a victory over Eire at Lansdowne Street in 1964, and performed in each match of the 1965 triple crown success, though his lack of outright pace left the selectors unconvinced. Out and in of the aspect over the next seasons, it was not till 1970 that he was given the captaincy and allowed to do for the nationwide aspect what he had finished for London Welsh. A yr later solely 16 gamers had been used as Wales claimed the grand slam, secured with a tense 9-5 win over France within the Stade Olympique de Colombes, the final of Dawes’ 22 caps.
A golden period was in full swing and Wales offered 13 members of the 34-strong Lions celebration to New Zealand that summer season, seven of them from London Welsh, alongside Eire’s Willie John McBride and Mike Gibson, Scotland’s Ian McLauchlan and England’s David Duckham.
With the visionary coach Carwyn James and the supervisor Doug Smith, Dawes, as captain, accomplished a administration trio with views on the sport that had been in full concord. When the celebration arrived again at Heathrow after their 2-1 collection win, they emerged into the arrivals corridor to a welcome from 1000’s of followers, nearly all of them Welsh.
Identified to his teammates as “Syd” (his first title was Sydney, though he used his center title, John), Dawes inspired his gamers to be adventurous. If a cross went astray he would, in accordance with teammate Barry John, say: “Don’t fear about it. Hold attempting issues.” He saved to that philosophy when, having hung up his boots, he succeeded Clive Rowlands because the Wales coach in 1975, though his return to New Zealand with the Lions was not a hit.
5 years later, with the sport nonetheless beginner, he accepted a salaried function because the Welsh Rugby Union’s teaching organiser. Made redundant in 1990, he took on the presidency of London Welsh, for whom his son, Michael, and grandson, Rhodri, each performed.
He’s survived by Michael and by his daughter, Catherine, each from his marriage to Janette Morris, which ended within the Nineteen Eighties, and by his accomplice of 30 years, Jill Mathias.