|Full name||John Peter Rhys Williams|
|Date of birth||2 March 1949|
|Place of birth||Cardiff, Wales|
|School||Brynteg Comprehensive School|
|University||St Mary's Hospital, London|
|Rugby union career|
|Years||Club / team|
St. Mary's Hospital
|Years||Club / team||Caps||(points)|
John Peter Rhys Williams MBE FRCS (born 2 March 1949) is a former rugby union footballer who represented Wales in international rugby during their Golden Era in the 1970s. He was known universally as J.P.R. Williams (or sometimes just as JPR, to distinguish him from teammate J. J. Williams, also John). Playing in the position of fullback, he was noted for his aggressive attacking style. With his long sideburns and socks around his ankles, "JPR" was an iconic figure on the legendary 1970s Wales team.
Williams was born just outside Bridgend, Wales, and was educated at Bridgend Boys Grammar School (now Brynteg Comprehensive School) and then Millfield School in Somerset, as was his Wales team mate Gareth Edwards. As well as being a rugby player, Williams was in his youth a talented tennis player; there is a popular urban myth that he won Junior Wimbledon in 1966 (in fact it was won by a Soviet, Vladimir Korotkov). However, he did win a British Junior competition that was held that same year at the Wimbledon venue, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, beating David Lloyd.
Williams replaced tennis for rugby union, which was an amateur sport, in order to pursue a career in medicine. He quickly attracted attention and was consequently first capped by Wales in 1969, aged 19. He went on to earn 55 caps for Wales, five as captain and eight for the British Lions. He played club rugby for Bridgend and London Welsh. He also played a few games for Natal shortly after the 1974 Lions tour.
Williams had many high points in his career, being a key player in a Welsh side that won Grand Slams in 1971, 1976, and 1978, and is particularly remembered for his record against England. In 10 tests between Wales and England he scored five tries - exceptional for a fullback - and was never on the losing side. He was also outstanding for the Lions, winning the 1971 series against New Zealand with a long-range drop-goal and playing a major role in the 1974 'invincible' series against South Africa.
Williams chose not to go on the 1977 British Lions tour to New Zealand, after being advised by his consultant to focus on his medical career. In the same year he was awarded the MBE for services to Rugby.
Williams retired from international rugby union in 1981 and continued his career as an orthopaedic surgeon. However, he continued to play club rugby for many years, playing throughout the 1980s and 1990s for Bridgend and then for Tondu Thirds into his fifties. He finally retired in March 2003.
Williams was one of the inaugural inductees of the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997.
Williams studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, qualifying as a physician in 1973. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1980. In 2012 was chosen by Move Sports to be the ambassador of the 2012 Portugal Rugby Festival.
In 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge; he was convicted and banned from driving for seventeen months.
JPR had all the requirements to become a great. He was talented, brave, committed and totally uncompromising. His impact on the game was immediate and long-standing. By 1974 he had travelled with Wales to New Zealand, Australia, Fiji, and Canada. He was an outstanding member of two victorious Lions tours - to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa in 1974. JPR was an established icon.
JPR Williams, commenting on his dual speciality in rugby and medicine:
I used to say that I spent half my life breaking bones on the rugby field, then the other half putting them back together in the operating theatre.
Behind us all was the immovable J.P.R. Williams, whose commitment to a competition borders on the frightening. His immense presence gave us as a team strength and total confidence. New Zealand are fond of kicking the high ball at the full back to expose a team's vulnerability and destroy its morale. Most players, I am sure, are reluctant to deal with such a tactic and perhaps give only 75% of their commitment to it - the other 25% is thinking of what might happen. JPR gave 100% of his attention to the act of taking that ball. But more than that, once having retrieved it his thoughts were not entirely defensive and he would look to the options for attack. His style of play added another dimension to the role of the full back and to the possibilities open to any team in which he played.
Welsh honours and statistics
- First cap: February 1, 1969, Murrayfield, Scotland (Scotland 3 - Wales 17)
- His fifty-five caps comprised 37 wins, four draws, and 14 defeats
- Member of three Grand Slam-winning teams: 1971, 1976, 1978.
- Member of six Triple Crown-winning teams: 1969, 1971, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979
- Scored 36 points (five four-point tries and one three-point try; three penalty goals and two conversions)
- Captained Wales five times (1978-79 - Championship and Triple Crown Season)
- Final cap: February 7, 1981, Murrayfield, Scotland (Scotland 15 - Wales 6)
- Three Grand Slams
- Williams, J. P. R. (2007). JPR: Given the Breaks: My Life in Rugby. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 0-340-92308-3.
- Butler, Eddie (3 February 2002). "Whatever happened to...? JPR Williams". Observer Sport Monthly. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
- Bagchi, Rob (9 March 2010). "Penny fails to drop as JPR Williams banned for drink-driving". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
- Davies, Gerald (1979). Gerald Davies: An Autobiography. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-796052-3.
- Glover, Tim (14 April 2002), "Rugby Union: PowerGen Cup final", The Independent
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to JPR Williams.|
- Profile at The International Rugby Hall of Fame
- Profile at ESPN Scrum
- 100 Welsh Heroes: #24 J.P.R. Williams
- Small talk: J.P.R. Williams, Paul Doyle, The Guardian, 6 October 2006
- J.P.R. Williams, full back, BBC News, 18 March 2005
- Gavin Henson interview: J.P.R. Williams, The Observer, 6 November 2005
- J P R Williams' appearance on This Is Your Life