Barry John: Legendary Wales and Lions fly-half dies aged 79

Barry John, the legendary former Cardiff, Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half, has died aged 79.

After making his debut in 1966, John played in 25 internationals for Wales and five Tests for the Lions.

A family statement 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.”

Wales won three Five Nations titles, a Grand Slam and two Triple Crowns during his stint on the international stage.

John cemented his Lions legacy against the All Blacks in 1971 by playing a starring role in the historic 2-1 win over the hosts, who dubbed him ‘The King’.

He retired the following year aged just 27.

John was central to Wales’ 1971 Grand Slam – their first since 1952 – sealed by a 9-5 win against France in Paris, their first there for 14 years.

He made his debut as Wales lost to Australia in Cardiff in December 1966, and had to wait almost a year before partnering scrum-half Sir Gareth Edwards for the first time in a 13-6 home defeat by New Zealand.

John and his former Cardiff and Lions team-mate Edwards are still regarded as one of the greatest half-back partnerships the world has witnessed.

Both had roots in west Wales and had the option of pursuing football careers before settling with the oval ball.

Edwards continued to flourish after John’s retirement, but the loss of his fly-half was long-lamented by fans globally.

John finished with 120 points for Wales and the Lions in his 30 internationals, but this rugby genius was so much more than facts and figures.

John is the second Welsh 1970s legend who has died this year following the passing of full-back JPR Williams.

Tributes flowed in the wake of John’s passing with former Wales fly-half Jonathan Davies paying his respects.