Principal Partners
John Dawes

John Dawes

One tour, four Tests (1971)

One tour, four Tests (1971)

Coach: 1977

John Dawes saw both sides of the New Zealand rugby coin on his two tours as a Lion. On his first visit, in 1971, he captained the tourists to their first series win against the All Blacks; on his second, he endured the frustrations of a narrow defeat as coach of the 1977 side.

The London Welsh and Wales centre was the finest tactician of his age and the perfect on-field conduit for the ideas of Carwyn James in the Test series of 1971, which the Lions won 2-1 with the last match drawn.

A perceived lack of pace had limited his opportunities with Wales during the 1960s, but his faultless judgement and timing of a pass made him far more appreciated by his team-mates than the selectors. If JPR Williams or Gareth Edwards were unfit, the Arms Park crowd would emit a collective groan; if Dawes was out, the groaning would be coming from behind the dressing room door.

Dawes' success in turning London Welsh into one of the club game's top sides eventually earned him the captaincy of his country in 1970, and a Grand Slam the following year made him the first Welshman to lead the Lions.

His understanding with Barry John at stand-off and the direction he offered from the midfield were crucial influences on the Lions' victory in New Zealand , and he played in 19 of the 26 matches.

Dawes retired from international rugby after the tour and went on to coach Wales to one of their finest periods between 1974 and 1979. In the middle of that spell, he returned to New Zealand as coach of the 1977 Lions. This time, it would not be so happy an experience.

Despite the privations of the wettest, most miserable winter in memory, the attacks of a hostile press and a breakdown in relations with the travelling British media, the Lions went desperately close to at least sharing the series, beaten only by a last minute opportunist try by Lawrie Knight in the dying seconds of the final Test.

© 2015 British and Irish Lions Limited Privacy & Cookies delivered by Sotic powered by OpenText WSM