Welsh Rugby Union | Wales and regions
Born in Llwynhendy, he learned rugby at Bynea School and then at Stradey Central School. His talent was spotted early in his career when he progressed into senior rugby at the Bynea RFC.
He made his West Wales UK debut in Neath during the Christmas holidays in 1950 at the age of 18. In this match, he was preferred to the international War Time Gwyn Davies.
The following season he played for Carmarthenshire, being selected for highest praise in the Western Mail after a 3-0 victory over Monmouthshire at Carmarthen Park in November 1951, a few months after his 19e birthday:
“Terry Davies, the Bynea-born Swansea full-back, showed international form and did more than anyone to secure the victory for Carmarthenshire. Possessing a secure pair of hands and a cool head, his positioning was flawless and time and time again he has driven back Monmouthshire with long, precise kicks.
Quite out of the old school full-back, neat, tidy, organized and solid as a last line of defense, he had a prodigious boot and regularly landed 40-yard touch sensors out of defense in the days when you could hit straight into touch from anywhere on the pitch.
He was also a good goal kicker and outstanding fall kicker, ending the 1959 British and Irish Lions’ tour of Australia, New Zealand and Canada as the second-highest scorer with 104 points in 13 games. For Wales, he has scored 50 points in his 21 appearances, scoring two penalties in the mud at Arms Park in 1957 to help his side beat Ireland 6-5.
At Twickenham in 1958, he took a monster 45-yard penalty to secure a 3-3 draw against England and hit the crossbar with another superb effort that could have won the game. That close shave inspired a daring raid later that night by a group of Welsh Manorbier fans.
Led by famed Welsh jockey Fred Mathias, the trio climbed back into the ground after locking it in and managed to saw off the crossbar and secure a 3ft piece in remembrance of the end at which Davies kicked off. had hit the bar.
On their way back to Pembrokeshire the day after the match, they were delighted to find Davies entering the roadside cafe where they had stopped in the Cotswolds for a short break. He quickly autographed the priceless pieces of sports memorabilia, although the RFU was more than a little upset when she found out she was missing.
Davies, a professional lumber merchant, offered to replace the crossbar, but a written apology from Mathias ultimately smoothed the matter out. For more than 60 years at least two pieces of the crossbar have still been in good hands in Pembrokeshire.
His first club was Swansea, for which he made his debut against Ebbw Vale in January 1951, and he was on their side who faced the Springboks on tour later that same year when the All Whites lost 11-3. He also played for the Royal Navy while serving as a National Service Marine, Devonport Services and Devon County.
For a player born across Loughor Bridge, performing for Swansea was certainly frowned upon at the time. This led to a bit of tension, as Davies revealed in his autobiography, Terry Davies; Wales First Superstar Full-back:
For a Llanelli boy to go and play for Swansea at this time was almost a betrayal; you have been called a traitor. Very few players on this side of Loughor Bridge have ever gone to play for the Jacks and I took a stick I have to admit. However, my decision made sense as Gerwyn Williams, the Welsh full-back at the time, was playing for Llanelli, so there was no opportunity for me at Stradey Park. Swansea were a very good team with some great internationals playing for them and with Cardiff and Newport I guess they were one of the best teams in Wales. I had to seize the opportunity and accepted it gratefully. Incidentally, I got an offer to play for Neath the same day but, as history shows, I turned it down.
His Wales debut, with Gareth Griffiths and Sid Judd, came in January 1953 at Twickenham, when he scored his side’s only points with a penalty in a 9-3 loss to England. He retained his place in the squad for the remaining three Five Nations matches, helping Wales beat Scotland, Ireland and France.
He seemed destined for a long reign at the back of Wales, but he suffered a shoulder injury early in the 1953-54 season and it took him four years to regain his place. To compound his injury problems, after regaining full physical form, he smashed his shoulder on a concrete enclosure during a Swansea touring match in Romania at the end of the 1953-1954 campaign and was banned from the game for a year.
In the meantime, he has argued with Swansea and has twice been denied a transfer request. As a result, he chose to return to the second-class stage at Bynea and won three Welsh Trials appearances with them during the 1956-57 season.
Many expected him to return to Swansea, but instead he joined Llanelli, making his debut for them against Bath on March 17, 1956. He became an instant hero at Stradey Park, especially when he fired the winning penalty in a 9-6 home win. on Swansea in September.
Davies’ older brother Len also played for Llanelli and won three back row caps in 1954 and 1955. Two years older than Terry, he died at the age of 26 in September 1957, of a blood disease.
That same month Davies turned down an offer from Leeds RLFC to turn professional. They offered him Â£ 8,000, while Huddersfield later came up with an offer of Â£ 9,000.
The concern at Stradey Park was that he might follow the same path as Lewis Jones before him, but as he told JBG Thomas of the Western Mail, he was not interested:
âI’m not afraid that I will turn professional, despite the very high fees offered which are a temptation for any young player. I’m happy with Llanelly, and I have such a camaraderie with my brother Len that I don’t want to give up the Union code, and all my friends in Bynea and Llanelly.
As well as becoming one of the greatest full-backs in the world, he has also become one of the most traveled. After being in Romania with Swansea in 1954, he traveled to Moscow with Llanelli in 1957 to perform at the World Youth Festival.
He scored 20 points in a big win over Czechoslovakia before fighting twice more with the Romanians. That year he also traveled to Canada with the Barbarians, and in 1958 he toured South Africa with the guests, bringing his appearances for the Baa-Baas to 13.
Closer to home, having played for Swansea’s team against the South Africans, he played for Llanelli against the Wallabies in 1957 (9-5 loss) and the Springboks in 1960 (21-0 loss) in 1960.
He returned to the Welsh side in 1957 and played in 17 of the 22 following international matches. He retired at the end of the 1960-61 season, having led Wales in three of their last four games.
The first of them was against South Africa on December 3, 1960. It ended in a 3-0 victory for the tourists thanks to a penalty from Keith Oxlee in the wind-assisted first half.
Davies won the toss, but chose to play against the howling wind and pouring rain on a pitch that was nearly unplayable. The Springboks forward pushed the Welsh field back at every opportunity and killed the ball to the ground whenever he could.
It was a gamble to play against the elements, but the Welsh skipper thought he would pay off in the end. Scottish referee Jack Taylor offered to call the game earlier, but Davies and his Welsh side persisted until the end and almost scored when Danny Harris crashed over the line at the after a pout and Ken Richards pushed an attempt to drop a few inches wide. . The next day the Taff River overflowed and the land was covered with two feet of muddy water.
Perhaps Davies’ greatest accomplishments came during the 1959 Lions tour of Australasia and Canada. Injuries reduced his chances of playing in more than 13 games and he eventually made his way into the squad for the second and fourth tests against the All Blacks after battling the star throughout the tour. Scottish Ken Scotland for the full aft berth.
The quality of the two players was demonstrated in the fact that the elegant Welshman and the sublime Scottish striker were chosen among New Zealand Rugby Almanac’s five players of the year after the tour. The Lions lost the first test 18-17, although they outscored the home side by four tries to one, and Davies had his chance to shine in the second test in Wellington.
Another close deal went in favor of the All Blacks, 11-8, with referee Roy Gillies mistakenly calling a knock-on against Davies which led to the game-winning scoreline with the Lions leading 8-6 with one minute remaining.
The All Blacks got away with the third Test, 22-8, but the Lions and Davies had the final say by winning the final Test 9-6, scoring three tries in the process and conceding none. Days after returning from the Lions tour, Davies played for Llanelli against Aberavon at Stradey Park and highlighted why New Zealanders considered him the best full-back in the world.
He gave what was considered to be one of the greatest individual field performances of the post-war period. He lost two goals, one from the halfway line, and was knocked out of the field at the end of a 25-8 victory.
After retiring from the first-class game in 1961 at the age of 28, he played a few final games for Bynea before hanging up his boots. He later became president of the Llanelli Alumni Association and received an MBE for his services to Bynea and Llanelli.
The Welsh Rugby Union would like to extend its condolences to the family and friends of Terry Davies.
Terence John Davies (Cap No 585) born September 24, 1932 in Llwynhendy; died on August 5, 2021 near Llanelli. 21 Welsh caps, 2 British and Irish Lions tests