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Wales and Lions fly-half rugby legend dies aged 79 as family pays tribute

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WALES and Lions fly-half legend Barry John has died in hospital aged 79 – with his family paying tribute.

John played in 25 rugby internationals for Wales and five Tests for the Lions.

Barry John has died aged 79

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Barry John has died aged 79Credit: Huw Evans

During his time as a player Wales won three Five Nations titles, a Grand Slam and two Triple Crowns.

John was dubbed “The King” after his man-of-the-match performances against in the historic 2-1 win over the All Blacks in 1971.

But rugby fans worldwide were shocked when John retired the following year aged just 27.

A family statement read: “Barry John died peacefully today at the University Hospital of Wales surrounded by his loving wife and four children.

“He was a loving dad to his 11 grandchildren and much-loved brother.”

John and his teammate Sir Gareth Edwards are often hailed as the greatest half-back pairing in the history of rugby.

Both players were born in West Wales and chose rugby stardom over promising football careers.

Fly-back John made his debut in Wales’s 14-11 win over Australia in Cardiff in 1966.

But he had to wait almost a year before partnering with Sir Gareth for the first time.

Over his career John scored 120 points in his 30 internationals for Wales and the Lions.

He is the second Welsh rugby legend to die this year, after full-back JPR Williams passed away last month.

More to follow.

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