The iconic former Cardiff, Wales, and British and Irish Lions fly-half, Barry John, has passed away at the age of 79. John, who first took to the field in 1966, played in 25 international matches for Wales and five Tests for the Lions. His family confirmed his passing, stating that he died peacefully at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his wife and four children.
John was a cherished grandfather to 11 grandchildren and a beloved brother. During his international career, Wales secured three Five Nations titles, a Grand Slam, and two Triple Crowns. John’s legacy was solidified during the 1971 All Blacks match, where he played a pivotal role in the historic 2-1 victory over the hosts, earning him the nickname ‘The King’.
John retired in 1972 at the age of 27, having played a key role in Wales’ 1971 Grand Slam – their first since 1952 – which was confirmed by a 9-5 victory against France in Paris. His debut saw Wales triumph over Australia with a 14-11 win in Cardiff in December 1966. However, it was almost a year later when he first partnered with Sir Gareth Edwards in a match against New Zealand.
John and Edwards, both from west Wales, are still considered one of the greatest half-back partnerships in rugby history. Despite John’s retirement, Edwards continued to thrive in the sport. However, fans worldwide mourned the loss of John as fly-half.
John ended his career with 120 points for Wales and the Lions in his 30 internationals. However, his contribution to rugby transcended mere statistics. He is the second Welsh rugby legend from the 1970s to pass away this year, following full-back JPR Williams. Tributes have poured in following John’s passing, including from former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies.