Home Nations Heroes, No 15: Barry John

Welsh player Barry John. Picture: Getty
Welsh player Barry John. Picture: Getty
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OFTEN cited as the greatest stand off of all time, John only played 25 Tests for Wales and five for the Lions – but what a career he had.

He started out as a schoolboy playing for local team Cefneithin RFC before switching to Llanelli in 1964. It was while at Llanelli that John was first selected for Wales as a replacement for David Watkins to face a touring Australian team. In 1967 he left Llanelli for Cardiff and formed a partnership with Gareth Edwards that became one of the most famous half-back pairings in world rugby.

In 1971, John was part of the Wales team that won the Five Nations Championship, the first time they had achieved a Grand Slam since 1952. He then cemented his reputation as an all-time great with a pivotal role in the British Lions’ winning tour to New Zealand in 1971.

Now 68, he retired from the game at 27, citing the pressure of fame and expectation.