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Gerald Davies

Gerald Davies

BornLlansaint, February 7 1945
Internationals46 caps between 1966 and 1978
InductedEngland v Wales (August 3, 2007)

The following article has been adapted from the original by Dai Llewellyn which focused on two players. It has been changed to highlight only the selected inductee’s information.

There is an old joke in which three Welsh Rugby legends – Mervyn Davies, Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies – stand on the banks of the River Taff in Cardiff, a stone’s throw from where Arms Park was and nowadays the Millennium Stadium stands.

“Let’s cross over the river here,” says Gerald. And the lightning-fast winger, whose electric pace and beautifully balanced running left so many defenders for dead throughout his distinguished career, races lightly over the water.

“On my way,” says Gareth, and the greatest Wales scrum half ever joins Gerald on the opposite bank. Mervyn goes to follow them and instantly sinks into the chilling waters.

His two colleagues start to laugh at the floundering forward. “He obviously didn’t know about the stepping stones,” says Gareth.
“What stepping stones?” asks Gerald.

Over the years that joke has been adapted to depict every great Wales player – including Mervyn Davies – as the God-like figure who can walk upon water.

But there is no doubt that Gerald Davies did appear to be capable of near-miraculous feats in his pomp when Wales ruled the Five Nations Championship throughout the 1970s.

The Cardiff and London Welsh threequarter began life in the centre, but by the time of his retirement from the international stage in 1978 he had built up a reputation as one of the most lethal finishers in the game.

Yet despite the fact he scored 20 tries in 46 international appearances for Wales, there is one glaring omission in Davies’ impressive rugby CV – he never scored a try in Wales’ five visits to Twickenham.

It is not something that Davies dwelt on, though. He was quite sanguine, indeed almost contrary about it. “Although wings are finishers, I actually preferred to create tries.

“Sometimes when you were on the wing all you had to do was run it in after your team-mates had done all the hard work. I liked the idea of being the creator.”

Davies, who made five appearances for the Lions in 1968 and 1971, saw fun in the centre’s role as he tried to create something out of nothing. “There is a sense of mischief in using your skills to outwit the opposition.” He certainly did that throughout his career.

Although Davies never scored a try in his internationals at Twickenham, the stadium had a special place in his heart.
“The old Twickenham was an atmospheric setting, no doubt about that as you stepped out of the tunnel on to the pitch.
“In those days the fixture list was fixed. Wales always opened their Five Nations campaign against England in January, so this meant that every other year we would go to Twickenham in mid-winter and it always seemed to be a dark, forbidding place.
“That had nothing to do with the crowd – it was simply because of the way that the stands were constructed. They cast a shadow over the pitch. There was a sense that it was hanging over you. I can never remember playing an international in sunshine – it was always under a glowering sky, with dark brooding clouds.

“But Twickenham was known in those days as the Cathedral of Rugby, and for all its forbidding nature in January, whenever I went there for the Middlesex Sevens, which traditionally brought the curtain down on the season in May, the contrast could not have been greater.
“Then in bright sunshine and with the intimacy of the packed stands it was an exciting place to be. It was a real festival of rugby, and I scored plenty of tries there then.

“In the 1950s and 1960s Twickenham was not the away day trip that the motorways have turned it into. For players and supporters alike it was a weekend break. And every Welshman going to the match seemed to stay in the Regent’s Palace Hotel in the West End of London.
“I seem to remember that supporters used to get onto the pitch before a game and on one occasion in the late 1950s Terry Davies, the Wales full back, was unable to kick at goal because the crossbars had gone missing.”

Twickenham was also special because of the fixture against England. While Davies insisted that any animosity between the two sides was a figment of media imagination, nevertheless he acknowledged that every match, home and away, against Red Rose teams was not easy.
“They were always tough games at Twickenham, and although we won a couple of times up there, I don’t think we ever entered a match against England on their home ground as favourites.

“For a start,” and you can almost see him shudder at the memory, “England always seemed to have big beefy forwards, and to a man they were intensely competitive.”

In case anyone thinks that Davies never scored against England, he did. Indeed famously, on one occasion, he scored two touchdowns against England. Unfortunately that feat at Cardiff in 1967 was overshadowed, not by any hulking stands, but rather by a Newport schoolboy, Keith Jarrett, who scored 19 points for Wales that day.

It is just as well then that the Museum has chosen to remember Davies in this way. He joins an élite band of international players from all over the rugby world on the Wall of Fame, a pantheon of outstanding talents who have given so much pleasure to so many at Twickenham over the years.
Article by Dai Llewellyn


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