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Greg Nwoko Historic Blog

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

John Frederick 'Jack' Williams (18 November 1882 – 28 August 1911)

John Frederick 'Jack' Williams (18 November 1882 – 28 August 1911) was a Welsh international rugby union lock who played club rugby for London Welsh.He won four caps for Wales between 1905 and 1906 and most notably was a member of the winning Welsh team against the original All Blacks.

Of all the Welsh players who made up the 1905 "Champions of the World" team, Williams is the most enigmatic. Over his career he achieved by far the lowest number of international caps out of the 1905 team and played the majority of his career outside Wales. It was said that Williams was a good kicker of the ball and "could pick up like a half, pass like a centre and run like a wing". During his club career with London Welsh he captained the club during the 1907/08 season.

Williams began playing rugby while in school at Christ College, Brecon. After moving to London, he joined Welsh exile club London Welsh, also turning out for English side Richmond. Williams made his international debut against Ireland on 11 March 1905 while playing for London Welsh. He was chosen for the 1905 All Blacks game and he proved an excellent choice working well with Harding and Hodges to back up Dai Jones in the pack and line out.Williams short international career ended in the disastrous 1906 South African game, where dissent surrounding the pack resulted in a Welsh team without cohesion. The selectors decided a 'clean sweep' was required and very few of that team, including Williams, played for Wales again.

In 1908 Williams was chosen to join Harding's Anglo-Welsh team who toured Australia and New Zealand.

In 1910, Williams was sent to Northern Nigeria, by the Colonial Office to work in the capacity of a commissioner. It was recorded in The Sportsman that shortly after assuming his post, Williams was shot by a local. The paper went on to state that Williams had recovered from the bullet wound, and that the shooting had been an accident. Williams died the next year, at the age of 28, after contracting blackwater fever in Nigeria while on Colonial Service.


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