THE PRESIDENT of the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) has paid tribute to John Dawes,  who sadly passed away earlier this month at the age of 80.

The former wales coach Wales won four successive Triple Crowns and two Grand Slams at the helm and also coached the Lions in New Zealand in 1977, when they beat every provincial team, and won one of the four Tests.

As a player he transformed British rugby with his attacking philosophy and masterminded the plan that helped to carry Wales to a Grand Slam and the Lions to their ground-breaking series win in New Zealand in 1971.

His death has come a few months short of the 50th anniversary of the Lions’ historic victory in New Zealand.

Gerald Davies, WRU President, said: “John Dawes was one of the greatest of rugby men, as a player, coach and especially, I believe, as an outstanding captain of a team. In each of these roles he accomplished a great deal.

“He had an all embracing and wonderfully perceptive vision of rugby, producing in the late 60s and early 70s a version of rugby which broke the mould of what up to that moment was acceptable in the playing of the game.

“As a result the word ‘expansive’ entered rugby’s lexicon to describe the kind of game he imagined and put into practice, first of all with like- minded people at London Welsh at Old Deer Park.

“As captain his style was one of encouragement and persuasion, cajoling players to be at their best, and no finger-wagging authoritarian sergeant major.

“He also had the essential quality as captain that whilst involved in the intense competition of the contest, he could, like a drone, rise up above the hustle and bustle and have an overview of the ebb and flow of the match and to guide his team accordingly; of the game but also above it.

“It was for me a privilege to have been in the company of a truly great rugby man and to have played with his scintillating style of rugby.

“Our sympathy goes out to his family.”