J. P. R. Williams


J. P. R. Williams
J. P. R. Williams
Full name John Peter Rhys Williams
Date of birth (1949-03-02) 2 March 1949
Place of birth Bridgend, Wales
School Brynteg Comprehensive School
University St Mary's Hospital, London
Occupation(s) Surgeon
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Fullback
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
St. Mary's Hospital
London Welsh
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British Lions

John Peter Rhys Williams MBE FRCS (born 2 March 1949) is a former rugby union footballer who represented Wales in international rugby during their Golden Era in the 1970s. He became known universally as J. P. R. Williams (or sometimes just as JPR) after 1973 when J. J. Williams (also John) joined the Welsh team.

Playing in the position of fullback, he was noted for his aggressive attacking style. With his long sideburns and socks around his ankles, "JPR" was an iconic figure on the legendary 1970s Wales team.

He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams including Ryan Jones, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies.[2]

An orthopaedic surgeon by profession, Williams has continued to be involved in rugby since retirement, currently serving as President of the Bridgend Ravens.

Early life

Williams was born just outside Bridgend, Wales, and was educated at Bridgend Boys Grammar School (now Brynteg Comprehensive School) and then Millfield School in Somerset, as was his Wales team mate Gareth Edwards. As well as being a rugby player, Williams was in his youth a talented tennis player; in 1968 he played one of the first matches in the Open era (tennis), at the Hard Court Championships of Great Britain.[3] There is a popular urban myth that he won Junior Wimbledon in 1966 (in fact it was won by a Soviet, Vladimir Korotkov).[4][5] However, he did win a British Junior competition that was held that same year at the Wimbledon venue, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, beating David Lloyd. The myth appears in his autobiography "So by the time of Junior Wimbledon in 1966....it began to sink in that I was the 1966 Junior Wimbledon Champion"[6]

Rugby career

Williams' focus moved from tennis to rugby union, which was an amateur sport, in order to pursue a career in medicine. He quickly attracted attention and was consequently first capped by Wales in 1969, aged 19. He went on to earn 55 caps for Wales, five as captain and eight for the British Lions. He played club rugby for Bridgend, London Welsh and Tondu. He also played a few games for Natal shortly after the 1974 Lions tour.

Williams had many high points in his career, being a key player in a Welsh side that won Grand Slams in 1971, 1976, and 1978, and is particularly remembered for his record against England. In 10 tests between Wales and England he scored five tries – exceptional for a fullback – and was never on the losing side. He was also outstanding for the Lions, winning the 1971 series against New Zealand with a long-range drop-goal. In the 1974 'invincible' series against South Africa he again played a major role.

He is known for developing the role of the fullback, in particular attacking from a defensive position often following an audacious jump for a high ball. He is also remembered for his part in The greatest try ever scored.

Williams chose not to go on the 1977 British Lions tour to New Zealand, after being advised by his consultant to focus on his medical career.[7] In the same year he was appointed MBE (Member of the Order of the British Empire) for services to Rugby.[6]

Williams was one of the inaugural inductees of the International Rugby Hall of Fame in 1997.

Williams retired from international rugby union in 1981 and continued his career as an orthopaedic surgeon. However, he continued to play club rugby for many years, playing throughout the 1980s and 1990s for Bridgend and then for Tondu Thirds into his fifties. He finally retired in March 2003.

Non-rugby career

Williams studied medicine at St Mary's Hospital Medical School, qualifying as a physician in 1973. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons in 1980.[6] In 2012 was chosen by Move Sports to be the ambassador of the 2012 Portugal Rugby Festival.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1979 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews at Thames Television's Teddington Studios.

In January 2006, in a party of 16 Welsh men and women, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania for charity, helping to raise more than £200,000 for the NSPCC's 'Full Stop' Campaign.[6]

In 2010, Williams pleaded guilty to a drink-driving charge; he was convicted and banned from driving for seventeen months.[8]

Welsh honours and statistics



  1. Williams, JPR (2006). My Life in Rugby. Hodder & Stoughton. p. 20,21. ISBN 978 0 340 92308 5.
  2. Three Grand Slams
  3. Jon Henderson (15 June 2008). "Now I'd choose tennis". The Observer. Retrieved 15 November 2014.
  4. Jon Henderson (15 June 2008). "Now I'd choose tennis". The Observer.
  5. "Wimbledon Archive". wimbledon.com. Retrieved 30 June 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Williams, J. P. R. (2007). JPR: Given the Breaks: My Life in Rugby. Hodder & Stoughton Ltd. ISBN 0-340-92308-3.
  7. Butler, Eddie (3 February 2002). "Whatever happened to...? JPR Williams". Observer Sport Monthly. Retrieved 21 March 2012.
  8. Bagchi, Rob (9 March 2010). "Penny fails to drop as JPR Williams banned for drink-driving". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 March 2013.
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