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The greatest hookers of all time: Bryn Meredith

Bryn Meredith lunges for the ball Rugby World

Bryn Meredith was famous for never taking a backward step, and the Welshman features on many people's lists as one of the greatest hookers of all time

Sep 14, 2016 12:12 PM EDT

Major teams: London Welsh, Newport
Country: Wales
Test span: 1954-62
Wales caps: 34 (34 starts)
Lions caps: 8 (8 starts)
Test points: 12 (4T)

Meredith had a long distinguished career at Newport, after being schooled at West Monmouth, starting out as a prop because “it gave me a better chance of getting picked”. After joining the Navy after school, Meredith’s sporting talent soon saw him graduating to play at Rodney Parade and latterly Wales as a hooker, where he made his debut in 1954 against Ireland in the Five Nations.

It was a debut to forget as he was penalised in his first three scrums. Thankfully his fortunes improved as he went on to win 20 of his then record 34 Tests at hooker, captaining the side on numerous occasions.

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His impact was such that Meredith was picked for the 1955 Lions tour where, as a mobile No 2, he thrived on the hard grounds. Nicknamed ‘Beatle’ early on by Irish lock Tom Reid for his prominent eyebrows, Meredith had a storming tour flanked by the fellow Welsh front-rows Billy Williams and Courtenay Meredith, and he scored in the second Test of the drawn series. “We didn’t have any coaches and played it off the top of our heads. We wanted to run it, which we did,” he said.

On the 1959 tour, Meredith lost out on a Test place to the tour captain, Ronnie Dawson of Ireland. Uncomplaining, he even started on the flank in one game when injuries were mounting up and captained the Lions against the Junior All Blacks.

He was more fortunate on the 1962 tour of South Africa, starting in all four Tests. Meredith retired after the tour having played a record-equalling 41 appearances for the Lions. Post-rugby Meredith went on to teach. Now 86, he still lives in his beloved Gwent.

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