The true story of this pic­ture... the toi­let in­ci­dent no­body knows about and the ex­tra­or­di­nary thing that hap­pened next

Glamorgan Gazette - - News -

the ruck, and a num­ber of Brid­gend sup­port­ers vented their dis­gust at what had hap­pened. The home play­ers were none too im­pressed, as well.

“I had a good view of the in­ci­dent and it was a proper stamp,” said Thomas.

“He also seemed to have a se­cond go.

“There were other peo­ple stamped on dur­ing the game as well.

“But our for­wards gave a big ac­count of them­selves and stood their ground against a strong New Zealand pack.

“I re­mem­ber John Bil­lot’s re­port in the Western Mail the next day. He was unim­pressed with the way the All Blacks had con­ducted them­selves, while a Kiwi jour­nal­ist whose re­port I heard about put blame on Brid­gend.

“But there was no ex- cuse for what hap­pened to John.

“It was an aw­ful in­ci­dent.”

He’s not back on is he?: Hav­ing been stitched up, JPR un­be­liev­ably re­turned to the field of play.

It dou­ble un­der­lined the mind­set of player who set new stan­dards for courage on a rugby field.

He was later asked, a shade bluntly, if he had a screw loose by re­turn­ing to the fray that day against New Zealand, to which he replied: “Things were dif­fer­ent in those days.

“I was the cap­tain and felt I had a re­spon­si­bil­ity to my team. You wouldn’t be al­lowed back onto the pitch in that con­di­tion now.” The Un­seen Dustup The match ended with New Zealand grind­ing out a 17-6 win which didn’t do jus­tice to the fight Brid­gend had put up.

There was more than a touch of ill feel­ing after a game that had been punc­tu­ated by sledg­ing.

Things boiled over in the toi­let area of the dress­ing rooms when a Brid­gend for­ward queried aloud whether for­mer All Blacks prop Kent Lam­bert spelled his first name with a C.

“There were a few shenani­gans after the match,” said Thomas.

“One of our boys made a re­mark which didn’t ex­actly go down well and when an ob­jec­tion came in, he told the bloke in ques­tion to go forth and mul­ti­ply or some­thing close to that.

“There was never a ques­tion of any­one back- ing down be­cause we were up against the All Blacks.”

The Din­ner Still more af­ters was to be served up at the ex­tra­or­di­nary post-match din­ner.

Mak­ing a speech, JPR’s fa­ther wasn’t afraid to draw at­ten­tion to the in­ci­dent that had seen his son so badly in­jured.

It prompted a mass walk-out of All Blacks.

But after watch­ing footage of the in­ci­dent, the full-back him­self was sure there was a case to an­swer.

“When I saw the re­play there was no doubt it was de­lib­er­ate,” he said.

The episode, from the stamp to the in­jury and the speech, made world­wide head­lines.

What hap­pened next: There was noth­ing re­sem­bling an apol­ogy from Ash­worth un­til a cou­ple liv­ing close to Wil­liams re­turned home with a bot­tle of wine.

They had been on a cricket tour to New Zealand, where Ash­worth was by then the owner of a vine­yard.

He gave Wil­liams’s friend a bot­tle to pass on to his old ad­ver­sary.

“I should be grate­ful but I won’t be send­ing him a Christ­mas card,” said Wil­liams.

This week, the great No 15 was still wait­ing for some­one to ut­ter the word ‘sorry’.

“I have never had an apol­ogy,” he told our web­site WalesOn­line.

“New Zealand even named him as a sub­sti­tute for the game with the Bar­bar­ians the fol­low­ing Satur­day, a case of rub­bing salt in the wound if ever there was one.

“The match ended with the crowd boo­ing.

“The wine? A bot­tle of white wine was de­liv­ered to my house years later.

“It didn’t taste that good.”

The whole episode still leaves a bad taste, then? “It’s been a long time now, but one of the prob­lems about New Zealand is that they tend not to apol­o­gise when they are wrong,” he added.

Wil­liams is re­mem­bered as the bravest of brave rugby play­ers.

“What was bril­liant about John is that he played for Brid­gend as he played for Wales and the Li­ons,” said Thomas.

“He only knew one way to play, with to­tal com­mit­ment and to­tal courage, and he de­serves ev­ery ac­co­lade that has come his way over the years.”

Ash­worth? Only this year he was voted top of an All Blacks’ list of on­pitch bad boys by New Zealand Herald writer Chris Rattue.

Time doesn’t heal all wounds.

A blood-soaked JPR Wil­liams leaves the field for treat­ment after be­ing stamped on while play­ing for Brid­gend against New Zealand in 1978

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