Carwyn James

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Carwyn James
Carwyn James.jpeg
Birth name Carwyn Rees James
Date of birth (1929-11-02)2 November 1929
Place of birth Cefneithin, Wales
Date of death 10 January 1983(1983-01-10) (aged 53)
Place of death Amsterdam, Netherlands
School Gwendraeth Grammar School
University Aberystwyth University
Occupation(s) Teacher
Rugby union career
Position(s) Fly Half
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
Correct as of 2007-05-10
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
1958 Wales 2 (3)
Correct as of 2010-01-02
Teams coached
Years Team

Llanelli RFC
British Lions
Rugby Rovigo
Correct as of 2007-05-10

Carwyn Rees James (2 November 1929 – 10 January 1983)[1] was a Welsh rugby union player and coach. He won two Welsh international caps but is most famous for his coaching achievements for both Llanelli and the British Lions.

Early life

He was born in 1929, the son of a coalminer, in Cefneithin in the Gwendraeth Valley. A Welsh teacher by profession and later a lecturer at Trinity College, Carmarthen, he played fly-half for Llanelli, playing his first game while still at Gwendraeth School. He was capped for Wales twice in 1958, the second time at centre, but would probably have gained more caps had he not been in competition with Cliff Morgan for the fly-half spot.


He gained distinction as a coach with Llanelli, whom he coached to four Welsh Cups between 1973 and 1976 and was coach when they won their famous victory over the All Blacks at Stradey Park, Llanelli, in 1972. He never coached the Welsh national side, largely because of his belief that the coach should chair the selectors' meetings and be responsible for choosing the other selectors. However he was coach of the 1971 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, the only Lions side ever to win a series against the All Blacks. His coaching style was said to involve quiet words with players and half-suggestions rather than orders. He was a strong believer in attacking rugby, with the attitude that if a team had possession of the ball it should be able to attack, regardless of the position on the field.

He had also an experience in Italy, at Rugby Rovigo, from 1977 to 1980, winning a title. In Italy he left a memory: there's an international tournament, called "Carwyn James Easter Trophy", in Pieve di Cento (Bologna), at the 12th edition (in 2016). The trophy is for Under 15s sides and it's arranged even with the help of Carwyn's nephew, Llyr James. The last three editions were won by "I Barbari Centro di Formazione Frascati" (ITA, 2015), "The Royal Belfast Academical Institution" (Northern Ireland, 2014) and Comitato Regionale Emilia Romagna (ITA, 2013).

James stood as Plaid Cymru candidate in Llanelli in the 1970 General Election. He was also an opponent of apartheid and during the controversial 1969/70 Springbok tour he prepared the Llanelli team but stayed in the dressing room as a protest. In his later years he became a noted broadcaster on the game in Wales. In January 1983, 53 year-old James was on a private visit to the Netherlands and staying alone at the Hotel Krasnapolsky in Dam Square, Amsterdam. The Western Mail reported that his body was discovered in the bath of his hotel suite, having lain there for some days. Police said he had died of a heart attack and there were no suspicious circumstances.[2] The sports building of Aberystwyth University is named after him, as is the playing field at Cefneithin RFC.


  • Gareth Hughes (1983). One hundred years of Scarlet. Llanelli Rugby Football Club. ISBN 0-9509159-0-4. 
  • Alun Gibbard (2017). Into the Wind: The life of Carwyn James. Y Lolfa. ISBN 978-1-78461-404-1. 


  1. ^ Carwyn James rugby profile
  2. ^

External links

  • Hewett, Chris (2004-12-03). "Why has rugby shortchanged the Barbarian legends of '73?". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2007-03-31. Retrieved 2007-05-10. 
  • "Brief Club History". Cefneithin RFC. Archived from the original on 2009-12-29. Retrieved 2010-01-02. 
  • Ferguson, David (2007-02-10). "Bennett stresses No 10s must play with freedom". The Scotsman. Retrieved 2010-01-02. [dead link]
  • "Carwyn James". Archived from the original on 2007-06-15. Retrieved 2007-05-12. 
  • Outside Half BBC documentary about Carwyn James

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