I was enormously saddened to hear of the passing of my old friend JJ Williams三级成人视频. He and I were not only contemporaries whose international rugby careers started and finished at almost exactly the same time, but we toured together for the Lions twice, spending almost eight months together in South Africa in 1974 and New Zealand in 1977.
We shared rooms, shared laughs, and had so much in common. JJ was a PE teacher, like myself, and we hit it off both on and off the pitch. We were the Lions starting pair on both tours and I was blessed because he was the sort of wing any centre would have loved to play with. I certainly relished our time together.
As a player he was a brilliant finisher and prolific try-scorer, especially in the really big games. In South Africa in 1974, he was absolutely exceptional. He scored two tries in the second Test in Pretoria and then two in the third Test in Port Elizabeth, effectively putting both games and the series out of the hands of the South Africans.
In New Zealand in 1977, he scored the breakaway try in the second Test in Christchurch which settled the game. That was three Lions Tests which had been decided by JJ's tries.
In the only game which we almost lost in '74, against Orange Free State, he scored the decisive try by tracking Gareth Edwards in trademark style. That was typical because not only did JJ have rare physical gifts and an extraordinary workrate, he was also a very clever player who identified space brilliantly and was always thinking ahead to identify where he could do the most damage.
三级成人视频As a centre, I used to love playing with him because he was one of those rare wings who would actually pass the ball back to you. Not only that, but he was always willing to come off his wing and play off you down the middle, where he had impeccable timing as he came into the line to make the extra man. He was always willing to go looking for the ball and despite being a left wing a surprising number of his tries were scored in the right-hand corner.
But as well as a shrewd brain and good technique, he was also amazingly fast. JJ was a sprinter who competed in the 100 metres at the 1970 Commonwealth Games, and only threw himself into rugby after that. He was the quickest player I ever played with or against, and if any opponent gave him even the whiff of the outside he was unstoppable. That's why he was at his very best on the rock-hard grounds of the High Veldt, where the South Africans just couldn't cope with him.
And if there was no space, under Carwyn James at Stradey Park he had perfected the art of the chip and chase. I lost count of the number of times that he successfully performed that manoeuvre in the 50-odd games we played in South Africa and New Zealand.
That pace and his phenomenal fitness meant that he was a very good defender. He would show opponents the outside, safe in the knowledge that no-one had enough pace to go round him. Although he was rather slight – like me he was about 5ft 10in, and weighed in at just 70kgs – he was a brilliant leg tackler. I can't remember ever seeing him miss a tackle.
But my memories of JJ aren't just about what happened on the pitch. Off it he was great company and had a wonderful sense of humour. He and Andy Irvine would have great banter with the forwards, but he also thought deeply about life. He was a man of strong opinions who valued honesty and openness above all else, which meant that you could have good conversations with him about virtually any subject. He was always willing to speak his mind, yet did so in a considerate way and was highly respected not just by all of the Lions, but by everyone who knew him.
Throughout my playing career we faced each other for most of the Seventies, although we beat them twice at Murrayfield. I like to think that Andy Irvine, I and Billy Steele knew his game so well after touring with him that we never allowed him to play to his strengths.
After his playing career finished, JJ joined BBC Wales, where he was an astute and well-liked commentator and summariser. I'd see him briefly most years when Scotland played Wales, but he was busy and I usually was too. There were, however, regular reunions for the '74 Lions at which we could catch up. Every time we met at these, we picked up where we left off the last time we saw each other. It was like we saw each other all the time – which to my mind is the mark of true and enduring Lions friendships. JJ will be much missed by all who knew him.