Ex-Cardiff, Wales and Lions three-quarter Gareth Griffiths dies

Gareth Griffiths
Gareth Griffiths was born in Penygraig, Rhondda

Former Cardiff, Wales and British and Irish Lions player Gareth Griffiths has died at the age of 85.

The wing and centre made 140 appearances for the Blue and Blacks from 1949-1960, scoring 74 tries.

He won 12 Wales caps and was among the Cardiff players who beat New Zealand twice in 1953, for club and country.

Griffiths was the last survivor of that Cardiff win over the All Blacks. He also won three Lions Test caps in South Africa in 1955.

Cardiff said in a statement on their website: "He was a true great of the game and brought great credit on himself and Cardiff Rugby Club."

Griffiths was born in Penygraig in the Rhondda, and went to Loughborough College where he excelled at rugby and athletics.

His sprinting speed made him a dangerous and versatile attacking player, able to cover the wing, centre and full-back positions.

He joined Cardiff RFC in 1949 as a wing alongside the legendary centre partnership of Bleddyn Williams and Dr Jack Matthews.

In November 1953 Griffiths was selected at centre alongside club captain Williams as Cardiff beat the All Blacks 8-3.

Less than a month later the pair were again paired as Wales beat the tourists 13-8 - the last time they beat New Zealand.

In all Griffiths made 12 appearances for Wales between 1953 and 1957 and scored five tries.

Ken Jones scores for Wales in the 13-8 win over New Zealand in 1953
Ken Jones scores Wales' winning try against New Zealand in 1953 - the last time Wales beat the All Blacks

He was not originally included in the touring party for the Lions' tour of South Africa in 1955, but excelled after receiving a late call-up as injury cover.

He played in 12 matches, including the final three Tests as the Lions drew the series 2-all.

The tour made a big impression on Griffiths as a player and a teacher: "The rugby was great. I think it was the toughest rugby I'd ever played," he told the British and Irish Lions website.

"It was two-all at the end, - but it was like a dream in many ways.

"Because I was a teacher, probably three days out of five, I would talk at one school or another.

"I'd often go to the start of the morning's prayer meeting, then maybe talk to the sixth formers and then talk to the rugby players, and they all seemed to be rugby players in South Africa!

"In many ways, it was an education for me. I couldn't speak Afrikaans - I could speak Welsh and English but Afrikaans was a bit beyond me. It was just a marvellous educational development of the right sort."

A month after his return from tour Griffiths was selected to represent Wales at athletics.

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