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Watch: The moving tribute paid to Barry John at Cardiff Arms Park

18 Feb 2024 3 minute read
Barry John’s boots and shirt as part of a tribute to the Welsh rugby great (Credit: S4C)

Former colleagues, fans and family gathered together at the Arms Park ahead of Cardiff Rugby’s match with Connacht to pay tribute to Barry John.

His famed half-back partner Sir Gareth Edwards led a moving ceremony in front of John’s family and many of his ex-club and international playing colleagues.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half, who died recently aged 79, was honoured with an impeccably observed minute’s silence as Edwards placed a Cardiff shirt on a plinth next to a pair of John’s boots, which were sealed in a display case.

As the minutes silence came to an end the crowd burst into loud applause to remember one of the greatest players ever to grace the rugby field.

It was fitting that The King was remembered at The Arms Park, where he played from 1967-1972, after leaving Llanelli to join Cardiff, forming a formidable partnership with scrum-half Edwards.

Barry John was arguably rugby union’s first superstar and a mercurial player whose wizardry gained comparisons with footballing genius George Best.

Nicknamed ‘The King’ by New Zealand journalists after he famously orchestrated the All Blacks’ downfall during an unforgettable Test series against the 1971 British and Irish Lions, John was rugby royalty in anyone’s language.

A miner’s son from Carmarthenshire he enjoyed a spectacular career for Llanelli, Cardiff, Wales, the Lions and Barbarians.

At international level, it might have lasted only six years before he announced his shock retirement, citing pressures of fame and expectation as he stepped down before his 28th birthday.

But John’s impact on the sport could never be understated as an imperious fly-half whose seemingly-effortless ability to beat defenders often defied logic and gained him worldwide admiration.

In his autobiography, John’s famed half-back partner Sir Gareth Edwards wrote: “He (John) had this marvellous easiness in the mind, reducing problems to their simplest form, backing his own talent all the time.

“One success on the field bred another and soon he gave off a cool superiority which spread to others in the side.”

And another revered Wales and Lions colleague, Gerald Davies, said: “Whilst the hustle and bustle went on around him, he could divorce himself from it all.

“He kept his emotions in check and a careful rein on the surrounding action. The game would go according to his will and no-one else’s.”

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Jennifer Richards
Jennifer Richards
5 months ago

So very glad to read of a SILENCE as a mark of respect. Hate, hate, hate the terrible clapping at such events recently. Rest in peace Barry John.

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