The greatest hookers of all time: Bobby Windsor
Wales hooker Bobby Windsor played rugby with an unrivalled ferociousness, a trait that undeniably thrust him into the bracket of one of the best to play the game
Major teams: Cross Keys, Cardiff, Pontypool
Test span: 1973-79
Wales caps: 28 (28 starts)
Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)
Test points: 4 (1T)
He says he was always hungry as a kid and hooker Bobby Windsor played his rugby with that same ferocious appetite for Wales and the Lions during a golden age for both teams.
At 16st-plus, he was built like a prop at a time of light hookers, and on the 1974 Lions tour of South Africa he proved he was one of the great scrummaging front-rowers. The Lions would take the Boks so low in the scrum that Windsor would sometimes hook with his head before driving over them, there being no law then about keeping shoulders above the hips.
As able to take a punch as deliver one, hence his Iron Duke nickname, Windsor was made for that tour because of his abrasiveness and love of the fight. Ex-Wales No 8 Eddie Butler, his team-mate at Pontypool, calls him the best he ever played with. “Some hookers are good at some parts of their trade and not so good at others. Bobby was a master of them all,” he said. “He was also vicious, the most cold-hearted brute you would never wish to see standing over you at a ruck.”
At school at Newport, Windsor once scored 56 goals in a season and he took that skill and pace with him to the rugby field, scoring a try on his Wales debut against Australia in his breakthrough campaign, 1973-74.
Over the next five-and-a-half years, he was to earn 28 successive Welsh caps and become a double Lion and double Grand Slammer.
His club feats were no less notable, Windsor packing down between Graham Price and Charlie Faulkner in the famous ‘Viet Gwent’ Pontypool front row that shared many a triumph on the international stage. The trio played together for Wales 19 times and also for the Lions in Fiji on 16 August 1977 (the day Elvis died).
Advised to retire in 1980 because of a back injury, Windsor played for another seven years, until the age of 41. Legendary coach Ray Prosser hailed him as the only tight forward he’s seen who could change the course of a game and Wales have never seen his like again.