Wales' 1976 Grand Slam captain Mervyn Davies dies

 

Wales' 1976 Grand Slam captain Mervyn Davies has died, the Welsh Rugby Union said today. He was 65.

The former London Welsh and Swansea number eight won 38 caps and toured with the British and Irish Lions to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa three years later, featuring in eight Tests.

Known throughout the rugby world as 'Merv the Swerve', he suffered a brain haemorrhage playing for Swansea against Pontypool in a Welsh Cup semi-final in 1976 that cut short his career.

A statement released by the WRU this morning said: "The Welsh Rugby Union is saddened to learn of the death of Mervyn Davies who deservedly earned a worldwide reputation as one of the greats of the modern game.

"Flags at the Millennium Stadium are flying at half-mast from today in honour."

The WRU said Davies passed away following a long illness.

The current Wales team will be crowned RBS 6 Nations champions and Grand Slam winners if they beat France at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow.

Leading the tributes, WRU president Dennis Gethin said: "We have lost a great player, a wonderful ambassador for the game and a true gentlemen.

"I played against Mervyn many times and knew just how good he was, but I also grew to appreciate him as a true friend.

"In later life he also became an accomplished after dinner speaker, so his loss will be felt in many ways by so many people."

WRU chairman and former Wales skipper David Pickering added: "Mervyn Davies was a man who epitomised the values of Welsh rugby and will be sadly missed by everyone who knew him and all who knew of him.

"He was a giant of the game, both on and off the field, for London Welsh, Swansea, Wales, the Barbarians and the British and Irish Lions.

"He bore his illness with courage, and his memory will undoubtedly live on within our game for all time."

And WRU group chief executive Roger Lewis said: "We have lost a true great of our game with the sad death of Mervyn Davies.

"His loss will be felt across the rugby world because of the huge impact he had as an icon of the game.

"He stood out in one of our great Welsh teams. but remained a modest and gentle man off the field of play throughout his life.

"Mervyn also played a prominent role in Welsh international rugby's former players' association. so his love of the game remained undiminished throughout his life.

"It is right and fitting that this weekend his memory will be honoured by everyone involved in Welsh rugby."

Davies made his Wales debut against Scotland at Murrayfield in 1969, and led Wales to a Five Nations Grand Slam seven years later.

He played for London Welsh from 1968, and later joined Swansea. where he completed his playing career.

Phil Bennett, a long-time team-mate of Davies with Wales and the Lions, paid tribute to his friend today, saying news of his death was "absolutely devastating".

He recalled how Davies was inspired to improve as a player during the 1974 Lions tour to South Africa by the presence of England's Andy Ripley, a rival for the number eight jersey.

Bennett said on BBC Radio Five Live: "'Rippers' was playing the rugby of his life, and Mervyn said, 'I'm going to step my game up'.

"And he started to play rugby football like I've never seen him play before. He was totally outstanding.

"I was captain of the 1977 Lions that went out to New Zealand.

"Mervyn Davies suffered a brain haemorrhage in 1976 playing (for Swansea) against Pontypool in Cardiff in the semi-finals of the Welsh Cup.

"Without doubt he'd have been skipper of that '77 tour and thoroughly would have deserved it.

"That's the fate life plays on you at times.

"To lose him so tragically is absolutely devastating."

PA

BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

RuPaul interview

The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

Secrets of comedy couples

What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

The best swimwear for men

From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

Mark Hix goes summer foraging

 A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

Aaron Ramsey interview

Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men
The unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth - and what it says about English life

Unlikely rise of AFC Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s elevation to football’s top tier is one of the most improbable of recent times. But it’s illustrative of deeper and wider changes in English life
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms