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Monday Feb 5, 2024

A tribute to one of rugby's first ever superstars: Barry John

Barry John will forever remain in the hearts and minds of those who follow Welsh rugby. Known simply as ‘The King’, John sadly passed away at the weekend surrounded by his family aged 79.

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A statement from the family read: “Barry John died peacefully today at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his loving wife and four children.

“He was a loving Dadcu [grandfather] to 11 grandchildren and a much-loved brother.”

Barry John will be remembered by many as the first major celebrity in rugby union, with his exploits in the red of Wales earning him an almost mythical status. Retiring at the young age of just 27, the former fly-half struggled with the attention that he would gain from his early success, saying later on in his autobiography: “I loved playing rugby and George Best loved playing football, but in the end we shared a common bond, for neither of us could handle the circus act surrounding our fame as it spiralled totally out of control.”

His rise to the highest of heights with the British and Irish Lions was rewarded with a famous tour victory over New Zealand in 1971. Part of the famous Wales team of old, John achieved three Five Nations titles, a Grand Slam and two Triple Crowns during his stint on the international stage.

Tributes came in thick and fast after the news of John’s death, with many expressing their disappointment that they were never able to see the great man play. For those that did have the privilage, the story’s are legendary. Just check out these four drop goals in a Cardiff/Llanelli derby:

If you would like to know more about that famous tour of 1971, check out this documentary:

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