The former Bridgend and Wales captain JPR Williams has sadly passed away at the age of 74 after a short battle with bacterial meningitis.
The former player will be fondly remembered for his time playing for club and country, as well as appearing on two successful British and Irish Lions tours to South Africa and New Zealand in 1971 and 1974.
A statement from the Williams family said: “JPR died peacefully today at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his loving wife and four children, after a short illness, bravely battling bacterial meningitis.
“The family request privacy at this difficult time.”
RIP JPR Williams
Some player! pic.twitter.com/sxinpZYukJ
— Andrew Forde (@andrewfrugby) January 8, 2024
JPR’s former club, Bridgend Ravens also released a statement, saying: “Bridgend Ravens are devastated to announce the passing of JPR Williams. One of Bridgend’s most decorated players and an icon of world rugby, JPR served the club most recently as club president. Our thoughts are with JPR’s family and friends at this sad time.”
A true legend of the game. 🏉
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) January 8, 2024
Former Wales captain Jonathan Davies spoke about the great man on BBC 5 Live Sport, stating: “Not many people can go by their initials and he was known as JPR, I remember watching him growing up. He was an absolute rock in defence with the tackles he made. If you wanted anybody behind you at full-back, I could not think of anybody better.
“When he was with the 1974 Lions in South Africa, when the fights broke out, he kept running in from full-back to punch the forwards. He was perhaps the most competitive bloke I have ever come across. He was ferociously competitive. It is very sad, he was just a great rugby player and an incredible character.
“Whenever you mention who were the greatest full-backs in any era, you hear about the greats like Serge Blanco and Christian Cullen, JPR is always in the mix.”
People will remember JPR Williams taking the ball high and going on a run, but this is it. Cleans the French winger right out. pic.twitter.com/JwmjK01KW0
— Nathen Amin ✒️📚 (@NathenAmin) January 8, 2024
See the tributes paid below:
JPR Williams & Franz Beckenbauer on the same day. Sporting gods for so many of us growing up in the 1970s. Nobody’s getting though Heaven’s defence tonight.
— Nick Mullins (@andNickMullins) January 8, 2024
We’re devastated to share the news our club patron JPR Williams has passed away. John was one of our games greatest players and will be missed by all at Tondu RFC. Our thoughts and prayers are with John’s family and close friends at this incredibly sad time.
RIP JPR. 💙❤️💔 pic.twitter.com/JLEIS3vxZW
— Tondu RFC (@WaterWheelers) January 9, 2024
It is with great sadness that we learn of the passing of JPR Williams.
An iconic fullback who played a pivotal role in the golden era of Welsh rugby during the 1970s, earning 55 caps for his country and representing the British & Irish Lions on eight occasions across two tours.… pic.twitter.com/9Par8sR7Lx
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) January 8, 2024
With the sad news of the passing of JPR Williams, let’s celebrate a true icon of Welsh and global rugby – our thoughts are with his family and friends pic.twitter.com/sALnJCCqcC
— Rugby World (@Rugbyworldmag) January 8, 2024