Rugby Union: Keeping up with the Davieses

Gerald did not tour with the 1974 Lions because he was reluctant to ask for the time off work
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The Independent Online
Today, as you are doubtless aware, is St David's Day, and in search of something vaguely Welsh to celebrate, I decided to pay tribute to 15 people called Davies who have made a significant impact on sport. I should add that not everyone in my Davies XV is Welsh, but I don't think that matters. After all, not every daffodil is Welsh, either.

1 Gerald Davies. Few sights enraptured Cardiff Arms Park quite like Gerald scampering up the right wing to complete a try. In Bill McLaren's estimation, he played "like a demented ferret and could come off either foot in a blink". He was an essential component in the 1971 conquest of New Zealand by the Lions. Indeed, while many of us deplore certain aspects of professionalism in rugby, it is worth remembering that Gerald Davies did not tour with the 1974 Lions, and that the great Gareth Edwards did not tour in 1977, because they were reluctant to ask for time off work.

2 Lynn Davies. In 1964, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor were briefly eclipsed as the most golden of golden couples by the enormously attractive duo of Lynn Davies (a fella) and Mary Rand, who both won long-jump gold medals for Britain at the Tokyo Olympics. Amazingly, Lynn's British record - 8.23 metres, established in 1968 - still stands.

3 Wyn Davies. He played centre-forward for Newcastle United and Wales in the Sixties, and was a native Welsh speaker sometimes wrong-footed by the English language. The Wales goalkeeper Gary Sprake once asked after Wyn's golf, and Wyn replied that he kept "ending up in the bloody gur!" He meant GUR - ground under repair.

4 Sharon Davies. The former Big Breakfast presenter, who regularly pops up with her lovely family in the pages of Hello magazine, was once a pretty decent swimmer.

5 Emrys Davies. A doughty opening batsman in the legendary Glamorgan team - legendary in parts of Swansea, anyway - which won Glamorgan's first County Championship in 1948.

6 David Davies. The Football Association's acting chief executive, who gave Glenn Hoddle the red card but was himself lucky not to be given the yellow card for co-authoring Hoddle's disgraceful World Cup diary.

7 Ron Davies. The former secretary of state for Wales was not known for his sporting prowess until he grabbed the headlines with some remarkable orienteering on Clapham Common.

8 Mervyn Davies. There is only one man worthy of the No 8 position in this Davies XV. Mervyn was a stalwart in the great Welsh rugby teams of the Seventies, and was without doubt one of the best forwards Wales ever had, fantastic in the line-out and deceptively quick. Less happily, he is also remembered for suffering a brain haemorrhage during a match, but is still very much alive.

9 Kevin Davies. Jack Walker, the fabulously rich owner of Blackburn Rovers,did not get where he is today (Jersey) by chucking his fortune away, but the pounds 7.5m he paid Southampton for Kevin Davies adds up to an awful lot of money per goal.

10 Jonathan Davies. Many fine rugby players have worn the No 10 shirt for Wales - including another Davies, Gareth - but Jonathan was one of the all-time greats, comparable with Phil Bennett and Barry John and, when he emerged in the Eighties, people once again started looking for that magical outside-half factory hidden deep in the valleys.

11 Laura Davies. She has won more than 50 tournaments and nearly $4m (pounds 2.47m) in prize-money, but her sporting interests extend way beyond golf. She drives fast cars, is an obsessive Liverpool fan, has her own floodlit five-a-side football pitch, and once injured herself before a tournament in America while playing cricket in a parking lot.

12 Barry Davies. Football, tennis, gymnastics, hockey, rowing, skating... Barry is the CB Fry of commentators and, as all trivia nuts know, went to the same school - Cranbrook - as another commentary box legend, Brian Moore. Ironically, it was a rugby-playing school.

13 Dai Davies. Like Neville Southall a decade or so later, Dai played in goal for Everton and Wales. Unlike Southall, he had the positional sense of a headless chicken.

14 Dickie Davies. The affable broadcaster was called Richard Davies when he started presenting World of Sport until Jimmy Hill, then head of ITV sport, suggested a matier name. His wife has never liked calling him Dickie, though, preferring "Rich".

15 TBL Davies. If I may be forgiven a slightly self-indulgent entry TBL Davies, fondly known as Blod, was a rugby fanatic who taught Latin at King George V Grammar School, Southport. Few of us ever figured out the difference between nominatives and accusatives but, far more importantly, he gave a generation of Seventies schoolboys a lasting appreciation of the sublime skills of JPR Williams.