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Bleddyn Williams

One tour, five Tests, 1950

One tour, five Tests, 1950

When 1950 Lions captain Karl Mullen was injured in training on the eve of the third Test against New Zealand, the tourists did not panic. Mullen's loss was a serious blow all right, but they knew that in Bleddyn Williams they had the ideal man to take over at the helm.

As well as being Mullen's vice-captain and having had a major input into the tactical direction of one of the great Lions line-ups, Williams was also the most complete centre of his age and the touchstone of the team's midfield.

The Welshman's command of the essentials was complete: he was quick and accurate in his passing, stern in the tackle, possessed a side-step of rare quality and was among the sharpest analysts of the play unfolding in front of him, an understanding he later shared as a respected writer on the game.
The Cardiff legend was already an established Wales international when the Lions came calling and alongside his partner for club and country, Jack Matthews, he entered the most productive period of his career on the tour to New Zealand and Australia.

Williams missed the first Test against the All Blacks through injury but in total played 20 of the team's 29 matches and scored 13 tries, including one in the victory over Australia in the first of the two internationals they played there.

He captained the Lions in the third and fourth Tests in New Zealand, matches the tourists went desperately close to winning, particularly the epic final contest, in which Williams was denied what would have been the decisive try only by a superb cover tackle from All Blacks wing and international sprinter Peter Henderson.

Williams ultimately went on to achieve that precious victory against New Zealand as captain of both Cardiff and Wales in 1953, although his brilliance never needed such confirmation. His form with the Lions had already introduced him to that proud rugby nation as one of the true greats.

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