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The greatest wingers of all time: Gerald Davies

Gerald Davies of Wales runs with the ball during the Welsh tour to Australia. Rugby World

Welsh winger Gerald Davies is one of the greatest players to have ever graced the field


Major teams: Llanelli, Cambridge University, London Welsh, Cardiff
Country: Wales
Test span: 1966-78
Wales caps: 46 (46 starts)
Lions caps: 5 (5 starts)
Test points: 81 (23T)

Such was Davies’ fame during the late Sixties and Seventies that he was known by a single name: Gerald.

With a heavy moustache, jet-black locks and a jackhammer sidestep, Davies was a debonair figure who in a split-second could thrust himself through the tightest of midfield gaps. He was also an instinctive finisher, often leaping like a salmon to dot down inside the corner flag with millimetres to spare.

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One of his more devastating performances came in a cup tie for Cardiff against Pontypool when, despite seeing little ball, he scored four tries. A star turn for Cardiff and London Welsh between 1965 and 1974, it was on the international stage that Davies made his name.  Early in his Wales career, he played as a centre until coach Clive Rowlands encouraged him to move to the wing in 1969, where he played with such poise until his final game.

Davies played in three Grand Slam campaigns, 1971, 1976 and 1978 – one of only six Welsh players to achieve this feat. John Dawes, his captain on the 1971 Lions tour said: “He was a magical man to have in your team because he could turn a game with one run. Some of the tries he scored were breathtaking.”

Davies was one of many who further enhanced his reputation with the Lions, touring against the Springboks in 1968 and the All Blacks in 1971, where he crossed the whitewash on three occasions and helped the Lions to their only Test-series win in New Zealand.

An academic scholar who spent three years at Cambridge reading English, Davies refused to tour South Africa in 1974 in protest at apartheid. It came as no surprise that in his retirement he pursued a successful career in journalism with The Times and latterly sports administration with the Welsh Rugby Union and the Lions. Now 70, he’s chairman of the Guinness Pro12.

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