Wales

Funeral for Grand Slam Welsh captain John Gwilliam

John Gwilliam circa 1950 Image copyright Getty Images

The funeral has taken place of one of Welsh rugby's legendary players, John Gwilliam, who died before Christmas, aged 93.

The captain of the Wales Five Nations Grand Slam champions in 1950 and 1952, he was also in the last Welsh side to beat the All Blacks in 1953.

He found his career in teaching, finally becoming headmaster of Birkenhead School.

His funeral was held in Llanfairfechan, Conwy county.

Around 80 mourners packed into the tiny English Methodist Church for the service.

In a tribute to his father, Mr Gwilliam's son, Peter, spoke of his prowess at both cricket and rugby and of his deep Christian faith.

Educated at Monmouthshire School and Cambridge, Pontypridd-born Mr Gwilliam went on to play for the Light Blues and appeared for Newport, Llanelli, London Welsh, Wasps, Edinburgh Wanderers and Gloucester.

He was commissioned as an officer in the Royal Tank Regiment in 1942 and saw action in Europe during the Second World War before returning to university to complete his studies.

Image caption Around 80 mourners attended the service at the English Methodist Church, Llanfairfechan
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption John Gwilliam, holding the ball, captained the 1950 side to Grand Slam victory

His playing career was recognised in 2005 when he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame.

As an educationalist, he was described as physically imposing, religious and austere, and remembered as a strict disciplinarian.

On the field, he was described as "a cool, calculating, poker-faced player who led through applied strategic and tactical thinking" by one rugby writer, while The Times newspaper described him during the 1950 Triple Crown triumph as "the cool general who kept them together".

He had retired to live in Llanfairfechan, and died at a Deganwy nursing home on 22 December.

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