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Ken Jones Obituary

An obituary for Welsh rugby centre and Vincent's member, Ken Jones, who passed away on 24 August 2022.
5 Oct 2022
Obituaries
Ken Jones in possession, for Wales v England at Twickenham, 1966 CREDIT: S&G & Barratts/EMPICS Sport
Ken Jones in possession, for Wales v England at Twickenham, 1966 CREDIT: S&G & Barratts/EMPICS Sport

Obituary for Vincent's member, Ken Jones, taken from The Telegraph:

Ken Jones, the rugby player, who has died aged 81, was a flamboyant centre for Wales who played for the British & Irish Lions on their tours to South Africa in 1962 and to Australia and New Zealand in 1966.

It was on the 1962 trip, in the first Test in Johannesburg, that Jones scored one of the most memorable of all Lions tries (shown in the video below), receiving a pass well inside his own half before sidestepping his way through the home defence and galloping 65 yards to the line to salvage a 3-3 draw with 10 minutes to go. That spectacular effort turned out to be the only Lions try in the first three matches of a four-game series which the Lions lost 3-0.

For Wales, Jones wore the No 13 shirt with equal dash in 14 internationals from 1962 to 1966, scoring five tries in all, two of them in an important 8-3 win against Scotland (shown in the video below) that helped to deliver the 1966 Five Nations title, one of three he won with Wales across that period. Although aged only 27, he then retired from international rugby to concentrate on a business career.

David Kenneth Jones was born on August 1 1941 in the village of Cross Hands near Carmarthen and was educated at Gwendraeth Grammar School, which put emphasis on the promotion of Welsh language, history and culture. He had a brilliant schoolboy rugby career there, representing Wales at Under-15 and Under-19 levels and making his debut for Llanelli in 1959 as a teenager after starting out at Tumble RFC.

Often referred to as “D K Jones” to distinguish him from another Ken Jones, the fabled Welsh rugby international and Olympic sprinter of the 1940s and 1950s, he began studying at Cardiff University in 1960, shortly afterwards turning down a £12,000 offer to join Leeds rugby league club.

Deciding to remain in the amateur game, he joined Llanelli at the start of the 1960-61 season and made an immediate impression with a fine match against the touring Springboks that did much to further his international credentials.

His Wales debut came in a 0-0 draw against England at Twickenham in 1962 – one of only two international matches to end scoreless– and after only three caps he was invited to join the Lions tour to South Africa aged 21, scoring from his fabulous jinking run in Johannesburg on his Test debut and notching up nine tries in 13 appearances on the trip.

Four years later, on the gruelling five-month Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand, Jones was influential in an 11-8 defeat of Australia in the first Test in Sydney and then scored two tries in a 31-0 thrashing of the Wallabies in Brisbane, one of the highest winning margins in a Lions Test.

A 2-0 series victory gave the Lions heart for the following internationals in New Zealand, but all four were lost against an intimidatingly strong All Blacks side; Jones, perhaps mercifully, only featured in the first of them, a 20-3 defeat in Dunedin that turned out to be his final Lions appearance. He played in 29 Lions matches, six of them Tests.

During the Australian leg of the 1966 tour Jones had been approached for a second time to switch codes – on this occasion by St George in Sydney – but once again he turned down the opportunity, preferring to stick with the amateur game in Wales. In 1965, after 140 appearances for Llanelli, he moved to Cardiff, scoring a try in the club’s celebrated Guy Fawkes-night defeat of Australia in 1966 and remaining there for four years after his international retirement, appearing 104 times before quitting in late 1970.

Aside from Llanelli and Cardiff, Jones also won five caps with the Barbarians, had a short spell with Paarl in South Africa, having stayed on to play for them following the 1962 Lions tour, and represented Oxford University while studying for a master’s degree at Merton College in 1963-64.

Away from rugby he worked for the Confederation of British Industry in Wales, where he became part of a unit trying to attract investment into the country. In 1972, thanks in part to his efforts, Takiron, a plastics-making subsidiary of the Japanese trading corporation Itochu, opened a factory in Bedwas, becoming only the second business from Japan to begin manufacturing in Britain. Through his contacts with the company, Jones eventually became Takiron’s managing director and then chairman.

A long-time Cardiff resident, at various times he was on the board of governors of Cardiff University and the University of Wales, a council member of National Museum Wales, and chairman of governors at the Museum of Welsh Life.

Jones is survived by his wife Ann and by their daughter and son.

Ken Jones, born August 1 1941, died August 24 2022

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