Former Wales and Lions captain and coach John Dawes dies, aged 80

Dawes captained the Lions on the 1971 tour of New Zealand, which is still the Lions' only series win over the All Blacks. Credit: PA

Former Wales and Lions captain and coach John Dawes has died at the age of 80 following a period of ill health.

He captained the Lions on the 1971 tour of New Zealand, which is still the Lions' only series win over the All Blacks.

Dawes won 22 Wales caps and was captain six times, leading them to the Grand Slam in 1971.

As a 23-year-old centre, he made a try-scoring international debut against Ireland in Dublin in 1964 and his storied career including captaining and coaching his country to Grand Slam titles began.

The British and Irish Lions called Dawes a "true legend of the game" saying he "will be sorely missed."

His first club Newbridge said on Friday: "After a period of ill health, John Dawes sadly passed away this morning.

"Everyone associated with our game will be aware of John's story and his great achievements.

"His venture into senior rugby started with us here at the Welfare Ground.

"The heartfelt condolences of everyone at Newbridge RFC go out to John's family at this very sad time."

Dawes also played for London Welsh. In a statement, the club: "Our very best wishes and thoughts go out to all of John's family, and particularly former player Mike Dawes (John's son) and current squad member Rhodri Dawes (grandson).

"This is a seismic loss to the London Welsh family, as well as the entire rugby community across the world.

It added: "This evening, we remember one of the true greats of all time and one of our own."

Dawes was a central figure in Wales' glory years in the 1970s.

His most successful year in the Test arena was also his final one as he announced his international retirement in 1971 having won the Grand Slam and been at the helm for a 2-1 series victory over the All Blacks.

Dawes played for Wales 22 times between 1964 and 1971. Credit: PA

Two years later he enjoyed more success against New Zealand as he led the Barbarians in their famous 23-11 win at Cardiff Arms Park.

Dawes became Wales coach in 1974 and he masterminded Grand Slam triumphs in 1976 and 1978.