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The words icon and legend are often bandied about too easily, but not in the case of Mervyn Davies. His incredible ball handling skills and athleticism to cover the ground and beat opponents made the 'Swerve' as he was universally known, one of the all time greats, not just in Welsh but world Rugby. Had his career not been cut tragically short with a brain haemorrhage while playing for Swansea against Pontypool in the semi finals of the Schweppes Cup and just three weeks after leading Wales to a Grand Slam in 1976, he surely would have added considerably to his 46 consecutive caps, 38 for Wales and 8 on two successful Lions tours. A third Lions tour as captain was very much on the cards. Instantly recognised with his mop of hair and head band, a natural leader, quietly spoken, not a man to waste his words, not a man to mince them either, he did his talking on the field. Rugby fans the world over, will talk about him for years to come.
JJ Williams (Wales & British Lions) He was an extremely charitable man and a popular Chairman of the WRU Former Players Association, where we worked very closely together. Merv was a very unassuming individual, hugely popular, who probably never received the credit he deserved. He was also arguably the World's Greatest No. 8 and as a captain was not only fantastic leader, but totally inspirational to the success of the undefeated Lions in South Africa and New Zealand, always giving 120%. It was an honour to play with him and as a three quarter, we appreciated the hard work he did to supply ball for us. As a captain he led by example and his hard work and dedication was totally instrumental to the success of the Welsh team of his era. A career sadly cut short by illness, Merv never let this get to him, after his playing days he remained close to the game and his work for former players will never be forgotten Merv was a very close friend and I will miss him enormously.
Gareth Edwards (Wales & British Lions) Since my first game with Merv against Scotland in 1969, I can only say my respect for him both as a man and great rugby player just grew and grew. We played together for 6 years and went on to tour New Zealand and South Africa as British Lions where his unsung work rate and ball winning ability at the back of the lineout laid the foundations for the three quarters to secure back to back series wins. Totally conspicuous, he just got on with the job, fighting for possession and regularly at the bottom of rucks, simply doing his job. To emphasise his contribution on the field, the great Colin Meads said 'Mervyn Davies was an integral part of the success of the 1971 Lions success in New Zealand' It was sad to think that the last time he would wear a Welsh jersey, was as captain of our Grand Slam winning side of 1976, a team he led by example. As Phil has also stated, a game that he should have left the field at half time with a bad calf injury - not Merv, his job had to be completed and as our captain, that's what he did!! On a light hearted note, he and I used to have fun communicating in Welsh at the base of the scrum, it wasn't unusual for Merv to turn around to me and say to me 'what the hell did you say then' - sometimes we didn't know who was more confused, the opposition or us!!! I will miss him so much, last week at the Grand Slam match, it was so strange to walk in to the former players' room at the Millennium Stadium and not be greeted by the tall unmistakable figure of Mervyn, as he always would. A great character and massive loss to us all as friends and indeed the world of rugby.
Phil Bennett (Wales & British Lions) I was privileged to play with Merv, he was a remarkable player, inspirational and a great leader. Throughout my career, I was fortunate to play with two of the bravest players ever to play rugby, one was JPR Williams, and the other was Mervyn Davies. During the final game of the grand slam campaign of 1976, Mervyn had a bad calf injury and should have gone off at half time, such was his leadership and desire to win, he stayed on and I say to this day, if he'd gone off, we wouldn't have won the Grand Slam!!! It's a massive loss, both as a friend and a great, great rugby player.
Mervyn Davies has certainly cemented his place in Rugby's Hall Of Fame
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