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Sport Welsh rugby in mourning after 'superstar' idolised by Gareth Edwards passes away

23:36  05 august  2021
23:36  05 august  2021 Source:   walesonline.co.uk

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As a 14-year-old schoolboy in Llanelli, Terry Davies was invited to rugby tackle his PE master. What unfolded was a sample of things to come for opponents on rugby pitches from Bynea to Invercargill.

“The teacher, a former Llanelli player, shouted: ‘Come on, come on, tackle me!’” relates Geraint Thomas, who worked with Davies on his book, Wales’ First Superstar Full-back.

“Terry did as instructed and the teacher ended up with the wind being knocked clean out of him.

“Apparently, the teacher got up, made his way back into the staff room, pointed out of a window and said: “That boy is going to play for Wales one day.”

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The prediction duly came to pass, with Davies going on to win 21 caps for Wales and play twice in Tests for the Lions.

The west Walian, who has passed away aged 88, became a Welsh rugby legend.

Gareth Edwards used to run onto Stradey Park as a schoolboy in search of Davies’ autograph. Writing the foreword to Davies’ book, the legendary scrum-half says: “We would go along to grounds such as St Helen’s, The Gnoll and Stradey Park to watch our heroes of the day.

“As kids at the end of games, you had a wonderful opportunity, especially down at Stradey Park, to run onto the field and try to get an autograph. I can remember, vividly, getting Terry’s.

“It was a wonderful experience as he was someone who stood out for me from a lot of exceptional players who were around at that time.”

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Davies passed away on Thursday, having been admitted to hospital at the turn of the year.

His son Richard led the tributes, saying: “He was just a fantastic father and a fantastic guy.

“You would not wish to have a better dad. He was good-natured and supportive all the way.

“He did loads of work for Llanelli, for the Scarlets, for Bynea, for the village he lived in. He grew up in the village and built a house there. He raised money for community projects and was awarded an MBE for his services to Bynea and Llanelli.

“He really enjoyed his life. He did everything he wanted.”

Terry played his club rugby for Swansea and Llanelli. After he made his debut as an 18-year-old for the All Whites against Ebbw Vale, the headlines in the next day’s newspapers rhapsodised about the newcomer.

Two years later Davies duly made his Test debut against England in Cardiff, with the timber merchant overcoming many injuries to enjoy a stellar playing career.

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In Fields of Praise, the official history of the Welsh Rugby Union, authors Dai Smith and Gareth Williams say of him: “He was one of Wales’s most accomplished ever custodians.

“A superbly balanced fielder and punter, a place-kicker of laser-beam accuracy, at five foot 11 inches and 13 and a half stone, he could bring down his man in the tackle like a lumberjack with an axe.”

Famously, he found himself at the centre of a classic Welsh rugby tale when three Welsh supporters broke into Twickenham after a long-range Davies kick had bounced off the crossbar, forcing Wales to settle for a draw against England.

The threesome took down the aforementioned crossbar, sawed it in three, and later presented Davies with a section of it for him to autograph after bumping into him in a cafe on the way home from London that same evening.

And quite the news item the episode made, too, with the Daily Mail carrying a cartoon showing the crossbar padlocked at either end.

Davies’ rugby career peaked with some brilliant displays for the Lions on their tour to New Zealand in 1959.

But the former Royal Marine was always about much more than just the oval-game. “He led a remarkable life,” said Richard Davies.

No arguments there.

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