Lions Legend: Terry Davies

Terry Davies finished the 1959 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand as the leading points scorer, even though injury restricted him to just 13 of the 31 games. [more]

Lions Legend: Terry Davies

Terry Davies finished the 1959 British & Irish Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand as the leading points scorer, even though injury restricted him to just 13 of the 31 games.

Davies kicked 21 conversions and 15 penalties on tour and was a popular figure both with his own team-mates and with the local public.

He played in two of the four Tests in New Zealand, including the victorious fourth Test in Auckland and made such an impression that he was included ahead of the All Blacks' great Don Clarke in the team of the series by the Wellington Evening Post.

The timber merchant and saw-mill owner from Llwynhendy near Llanelli was an accomplished all-round player who almost had a promising career ended five years before he made his Lions bow.

Having won his first international cap as a teenager against England in 1953, Davies was expected to become a mainstay in the Welsh line up for years to come. Instead, a serious shoulder injury suffered during the summer of 1954 ensured the impressive full back would not play for his country again until 1957.

Davies' troubles began when he dislocated his shoulder for the first time during the 1953/54 season before being thrown into a concrete surround during a heavy tackle on a pre-season tour of Romania with Swansea.

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That incident appeared to have brought the curtain down on Davies' time in the sport but an operation to rewire his shoulder eventually saw him return to the game and move from Swansea to Llanelli in 1956.

Davies stayed with the Stardey Park outfit for the remainder of his playing career despite being offered a lucrative deal to cross to rugby league with Leeds.

He returned to the Welsh line up in 1957, once again demonstrating his superb kicking game and a huge defensive heart that saw him keep hold of the No15 jersey for four seasons until his retirement in 1961.

The former Devonport Services, Royal Marines and Royal Navy star also toured South Africa and Canada with the Barbarians before captaining his country three times during his final season in international rugby.

Terry Davies factfile

Date of birth: September 24, 1933
Clubs: Bynea, Swansea, Llanelli
International caps: Wales 21
Height: 5ft 11in (1.78m)
Weight: 13 stone 7lbs (86kg)

Davies' Lions lowdown

Lions debut: Versus New South Wales, May 30, 1959
Lions Tests: 2 (2nd and 4th Tests in NZ in 1959)
Lions non-Test appearances: 11
Total Lions appearances: 13
Lions points: 87* (21 conversions and 15 penalties) *under the current scoring system
Final Lions appearance: Versus New Zealand, Auckland, September 19, 1959

On some special memories

"That 1959 tour was huge for me. I got injured early on and then had to climb back into the team again. It was magnificent playing for the Lions. It meant you'd reached the top of the ladder.

"It was a very long tour, six months practically. I had to give up my business to go on the tour and very few people had any wages out of it. We lived on 10 shillings a day, which is 50p in modern money, but we managed and we had an absolutely magnificent tour.

"The welcome that we had when we arrived in Auckland is the abiding moment that I feel when I look back at the tour. There must have been 40,000 people in the airport waiting for us – we were the first Lions to fly.

"We were then transported by these antique, open-top cars to our hotel and we passed through streets laden with people. It seemed that the whole of New Zealand had come out to meet us. New Zealand was definitely one of the places I would have emigrated to if I was that way inclined."

On the four-match Test series in New Zealand

Having beaten Australia twice on their way to New Zealand, the Lions were in good shape. They lost just once in their seven games in the build up to the first Test against the All Blacks and became embroiled in a compelling four-match series that finished 3-1 in New Zealand's favour. Davies played in the second and fourth Tests, with Ken Scotland filling the fullback berth in the other two.

"I came up against Don Clarke, one of the greatest fullbacks of all time. He was a huge kicker and a big man. His two brothers played front row and he was about the same size.

"We scored four tries in the first Test and we still lost the game. Every time they came into our half, Clarke kicked a penalty. He got six in the end and we lost 18-17. We certainly had a problem with the referees out there.

"We then scored three tries in the final Test and they didn't score any. It was a great way for us to finish and we felt we deserved something out of the series."

On a couple of real characters

"There was a brilliant story about my old friend from Pontypool, Ray Prosser.

"We played in a place called Greymouth at the edge of one of the New Zealand districts and it was a very grey place altogether – it was an industrial area. We were playing our ninth game in New Zealand and the opposition were West Coast-Buller.

"We came on the field first and received a good cheer. The home team came on and they had an even bigger cheer. But then the referee ran on and got the biggest cheer of the lot. We knew then we were in for a hell of a game.

"We scored a couple of tries and were then refused two more. Then there was a long drop out and it went to Tony O'Reilly, the famous Irish wing. He'd been practising his sidestep all tour so, with 50-yards to go, off he went.

"He sidestepped all the way across the field until he reached the other touch-line, beating about four men. Then he found he was boxed in and so he started coming back again. He reached the other side and then had to change tack.

"He shot up the edge of the field, handed-off a few players, and then went in between the posts and put the ball down. The poor referee who had chased him all over the place arrived and Tony turned to him and said: 'Jesus ref, I nearly scored that time.'

"After the game Ray Prosser said to me: 'Ter, did you see that O'Reilly? He passed me twice. He sidestepped me once, and then he gave me a dummy'.

"They were two great characters and players."

On the future of the Lions

"I'm still a big fan of the Lions. I think there should always be a British & Irish Lions team.

"The tradition has to go on because it brings together all the countries. That's what the spirit of rugby is about."

Davies' Lions appearance and scoring records

30/05/1959 New South Wales 18-14 Lions
09/06/1959 New South Wales Country 14-27 Lions – Cons 3, Pens 3
24/06/1959 Poverty Bay/East Coast 14-23 Lions – Cons1, Pens 2
08/07/1959 S/Mid Canterbury/North Otago 11-21 Lions
11/07/1959 Southland 6-11 Lions – Cons 1
22/07/1959 West Coast-Buller 3-58 Lions – Cons 7
25/07/1959 Canterbury 20-14 Lions
08/08/1959 Taranaki 3-15 Lions
15/08/1959 New Zealand 11-8 Lions – Cons 1, Pens 1
02/09/1959 New Zealand Juniors 9-29 Lions – Cons 4, Pens 1
05/09/1959 New Zealand Maoris 6-12 Lions – Pens 3
12/09/1959 North Auckland 13-35 Lions – Cons 4, Pens 5
19/09/1959 New Zealand 6 – 9 Lions

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