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Obituary: Wales loses one of its oldest internationals as ‘Shorty’ Davies passes

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Glyn ‘Shorty’ Davies, one of the final few links to Wales’ last win over New Zealand way back in 1953, has died nine days short of his 96th birthday.

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The Gwent-born back row forward was picked for the game against the All Blacks in Cardiff on 19 December 1953. He had faced the tourists in their opening game in Hove seven weeks earlier when he had captained the Southern Counties in a 24-0 defeat at Hove.

He was playing at Blackheath, and with Sussex County, at the time and had forced his way into the team on the strength of his leadership in that game. It would have been his international debut, and the only survivor from that day on the Welsh side is Neath prop Courtenay Meredith, who celebrated his 97th birthday in September.

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Davies picked up a back injury in Wales’ Friday afternoon run out and was replaced on the day by Cardiff’s Sid Judd. Judd had already been a try scorer against Bob Stuart’s New Zealanders a month earlier in Cardiff’s 8-3 triumph and would go on to score again in Wales’ 13-8 victory.

Davies’ bad luck meant he had to wait another two years before he eventually won his one and only cap, against England in Cardiff in 1955. He ended up on the winning side on that occasion, 3-0, but wasn’t picked again.

Glyn Davies

Things could have been different but for another piece of bad luck. The Welsh selectors invited him to play for Wales against Ireland in Dublin in March 1954, but found that he was in Bexhlll Hospital suffering with pneumonia.

A tall (6ft 3in), red-headed forward, Davies was educated at Lewis School, Pengam, Bedwellty Grammar School and Cardiff University. He played briefly for Blackwood and Cross Keys before switching to Lewes for two season before joining Blackheath in the 1952-53 season.

It was from there he was picked to play for the two Welsh trials that preceded the All Blacks match. He shone in both, but found himself dropped to the ‘A’ side at Blackheath as a result. He then moved on to London Welsh, from where he won his cap.

Speaking to the local newspaper after the news broke about his selection he said: “I am the happiest man alive, I’ve been on tenterhooks all the week. Even now I don’t know whether I’m coming or going.” To add to his excitement, he got engaged in the same week

An superb all-round athlete, he was the Welsh Universities heavyweight boxing champion and played for Wales at Basketball. He also trialed for the British Olympic Basketball team at the 1948 London Games.

Having started his working life as a foreign language teacher at Lewes County Grammar School, he then became a director of the 3M Company in Gorseinon, Swansea. His switch Swansea enabled him to play for the All Whites for two seasons between 1956-58, during which time he played 36 times and scored four tries.

He played for Swansea against Italy in 1956 and also appeared twice for the Barbarians on their 1953 Easter Tour, playing in wins at Penarth and Newport.

The WRU passes on sincere condolences to his wife, Brenda, and the rest of his family and friends.

Neville Glyn Davies: 1 cap. Cap No: 602. B: Cefn Fforest, 29 November 1927; D: 20 November 2023

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