John Dawes, Wales and British & Irish Lions legend, dies aged 80

Wales and British & Irish Lions legend John Dawes has died at the age of 80 following a period of ill health.

Dawes famously led the Lions to their only series victory over New Zealand in 1971, making four Test appearances for the tourists and 19 Lions appearance in total.

Dawes won 22 caps for Wales and, as a 23-year-old centre, made a try-scoring debut against Ireland in Dublin in 1964. He went onto to be a central figure in Wales’ glory years in the 1970s, with his most successful year in the Test arena also his final one as he announced his international retirement in 1971 having led Wales to the grand slam, and been at the helm for the 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks.

As coach of Wales, Dawes won four Five Nations titles including two grand slams, in 1976 and 1978, and four triple crowns. He was also coach of the 1977 Lions in New Zealand.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Lion #487 John Dawes,” the British & Irish Lions tweeted on Friday. “Captain of the Lions on the 1971 Tour, the only Lions side to win a series in New Zealand, Dawes made 19 appearances for the Lions. A true legend of the game, John will be sorely missed.”

After starting his career at Newbridge, Dawes also went on to captain and coach the London Welsh team of the late 1960s and early 1970s. He also captained the Barbarians in their 1973 victory over New Zealand in Cardiff, best remembered for Gareth Edwards’s “try of the century”. Dawes played an important role in the buildup.