Barry John is considered as one of the best fly-halfs in rugby history and he surprised many when at the peak of his game at 27-years-old he stepped away from the game today in rugby history in 1972. His feats on the field earned him the nickname ‘The King.’
At the announcement, John said he was tired of ‘living in a goldfish bowl’ and cited an incident where a young girl curtsied to him outside a local bank. It must be remembered that this was in the amateur era of the sport but with more importance John and other top players were becoming focal points of admiration.
‘The King’ played for Wales from 1966 through his retirement in 1972. His initial selection surprised many as it came at the expense of David Watkins, a one-time British and Irish Lions captain.
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Once established John along with his playing partner Gareth Edwards help usher in the second ‘Golden Age’ of Welsh rugby. He was part of the 1971 Wales rugby national team that won the Grand Slam, the first for the country since 1952.
When he called time on his career, John had earned 25 caps. He was part of two British and Irish Lions tours earning 5 caps although his play in the 1968 tour was cut short after breaking his collarbone in the first test match.
He played club rugby for Cefneithin RFC, Llanelli RFC, Cardiff RFC, as well as being invited to play with the Barbarian FC.