John Taylor (rugby union, born 1945)

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John Taylor
Full name John Taylor
Date of birth (1945-07-21) 21 July 1945 (age 71)
Place of birth Watford, England
School Watford Grammar School for Boys
Rugby union career
Position(s) Flanker
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British Lions

John Taylor (born 21 July 1945 in Watford, Hertfordshire)[1] is a Welsh former rugby union player and current commentator. Nicknamed "Basil Brush" thanks to his wild hair and beard, he played as a flanker for London Welsh (of which he is now a board member), and represented Wales 26 times between 1967 and 1973.

Rugby career[edit]

Perhaps his most famous moment was in the Five Nations match against Scotland in 1971. The match had see-sawed backwards and forwards with each team taking the lead several times. Finally, with a few minutes to go and the score at 18-14, Wales won a line-out on the Scotland 22 metre line. The ball moved through the backs to Gerald Davies who managed to squeeze in to score a try at the right hand corner. With great presence of mind, the Scottish defence kept up the chase to prevent Davies from touching down near the posts. With the score at 18-17 and ball to be placed on the right hand side, the conversion looked almost impossible, particularly as Barry John, the usual Welsh kicker, was right footed and had been concussed earlier in the match. Instead of Barry, Taylor took the conversion attempt and kicked the ball perfectly between the posts. The final score was 19-18, giving Wales the victory. One Welsh journalist called this "the greatest conversion since Saint Paul".[2]

John Taylor played for the British and Irish Lions on the 1971 tour to New Zealand. He was notable for the stand he took against apartheid after visiting South Africa in 1968. Taylor was invited on the 1974 Lions tour to that country but made it clear he would follow his conscience and he refused to tour. He also refused to play against the South Africans during their 1969-1970 Tour of Britain and Ireland. It was Taylor's refusal to face the South Africans for Wales in 1970 that cost him a place with the Barbarians. After Mervyn Davies fell ill before the classic 1973 Barbarian encounter against the All Blacks, Taylor's name was suggested as a replacement. The club secretary for the Barbarians, Brigadier Glyn Hughes, responded negatively to the idea with the response "He's not playing. The man's a Communist!"[3]

Since 1991, he has been the lead rugby commentator on ITV Sport, describing the World Cup final victory of England over Australia on 22 November 2003. For the 2007 World Cup, Taylor appeared to have been relegated to the role of third choice commentator following ITV's recruitment of Miles Harrison from Sky Sports and Jon Champion, who was previously a football commentator. 2011 was the first time ITV covered the Rugby World Cup without commentary from John Taylor, instead ITVs commentary is from former BBC commentator Nick Mullins, Simon Ward, Bob Symonds who is the only ITV veteran of all their world cup coverage and Martin Gillingham all of whom commentate on their Aviva Premiership highlights on itv4. Instead John Taylor joined talkSPORT to cover their exclusive radio commentary as their first choice commentator joining the likes of Brian Moore, David Campese, Michael Owen and talksport reporters covering the event.

Throughout the 2015 Rugby World Club, hosted by England in September and October but also including games at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium in Wales, Taylor was the stadium announcer for matches played at Twickenham Stadium, London.


  1. ^ John Taylor player profile ESPN
  2. ^ Frank Keating column, the Guardian, 16 October 2007
  3. ^ John Taylor: Rebel with a Cause The Independent, 30 May 2009