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Tributes flood in for Davies

Welsh rugby has united in tribute to its 1976 Grand Slam captain Mervyn Davies following his death at the age of 65.

The Welsh Rugby Union said Swansea-born Davies passed away after a long illness. Current Wales assistant coach and former national team skipper Rob Howley described Davies - who was known worldwide as 'Merv the Swerve' - as a "colossus" and "icon".

Ex-playing colleague Phil Bennett believes Davies would have led the 1977 British and Irish Lions in New Zealand had his career not been cut short by a brain haemorrhage suffered during a Welsh Cup semi-final the year before.

And another former team-mate - for London Welsh, Wales and the Lions - John Taylor, said: "This is one of the saddest days of my life. I have lost a brother."

Davies played for London Welsh and Swansea, winning 38 caps and touring with the Lions to New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa three years later, featuring in eight Tests.

He only finished on the losing side nine times with Wales, and news of his death is particularly poignant, with it being announced barely 24 hours before Wales go for RBS 6 Nations title and Grand Slam glory against France at the Millennium Stadium.

Flags at the stadium flew at half-mast on Friday, while both teams on Saturday will wear black armbands, in addition to a minute's silence being observed.

Howley began his eve-of-game press conference by paying a glowing tribute to Davies, and he said: "It's a sad day for Welsh rugby. The players, the management, we all send our sincere condolences to the family. Unfortunately, I never played with him, but from what I'm told he was a colossus.

"To only lose nine games as a player for Wales, the amount of caps, to play eight Tests for the Lions, he's an icon of world rugby. We can speak frequently of world-class players, but icon and legend belongs to Merv the Swerve.

"The players were told this morning, and it gives us even more motivation for tomorrow on what is hopefully going to be a great game for Welsh rugby. It's emotional, I met him on several occasions when I was Wales captain and he gave me plenty of words of wisdom. He was a very humble man who knew the game inside-out."


From Belfast Telegraph