Legendary Barbarian, British & Irish Lion and Wales international John Dawes has died aged 80 after a period of ill health.  

Barbarians President John Spencer said: “We are deeply saddened to learn of Sid’s passing. 

“He was a gentleman and a legend of the game with the most tremendous sense of humour, which all who played under him as captain will remember. I was very proud to have played alongside him and under his captaincy on the Lions tour of 1971.

“His part in the match between the Barbarians and New Zealand in 1973, which we all remember for the try of the century, is embedded in the Barbarians story. 

“Sid was a true Barbarian. He epitomised our values of integrity, friendship and enjoyment alongside being a fierce rugby talent and he will be sorely missed around the world.”

Dawes also captained the Lions to their only series victory over New Zealand in 1971, as well as captaining Wales to Grand Slam glory in the same year in addition to one additional Slams and two further Five Nations titles. 

A club stalwart of London Welsh in the 1960s and 70s, he started his senior rugby career with Newbridge Rugby Club in Monmouthshire, his hometown. 

Qualifying as a teacher from Loughborough College, he went onto becoming a science teacher and lecturer before moving into rugby, first as a player and later as coach and administrator. 

Dawes was an exciting and tactical playmaker centre, creating countless opportunities for teammates to score with his ability to create space. 

As captain and coach for London Welsh, he helped establish a philosophy of doing the basics well and moving the ball around at speed epitomising “the Welsh way”. The club became one of the most successful of the era, turning out players including JPR Williams, Mervyn Davies, Gerald Davies, Geoff Evans, Mike Roberts and John Taylor – all of whom featured on the 1971 Lions tour.

Making his debut for Wales against Ireland in 1964, aged 23, he marked the occasion with a try, going onto become captain of the international side in one of the country’s golden eras. 

After leading Wales to the 1971 Grand Slam, he captained the historic Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand, appearing in all four Tests. He retired from international rugby following the tour but continued at club level, including his Barbarians appearances. 

The Barbarians invited him to captain the famous Black and White against New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park, having previously appeared for the Club against Oxford University and leading the team for the Mobbs Memorial Match of 1971.

Dawes became coach of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1975 and coached the Lions on their 1977 tour to New Zealand and Fiji.

Under his four-year tenure, Wales won the Five Nations four times in five seasons, including two Grand Slams – and has the proud record of never having lost to England, either as a player or a coach. 

Dawes was made an OBE in 1972 and inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2016.

Spencer added: “Our heartfelt thoughts – and those of the entire Barbarians family – are with Sid’s family at this difficult time.”