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A Blue Plaque has been unveiled in the hometown of a rugby legend who was part of the famous Welsh side that beat the All Blacks in 1905. 

Rhondda-born Willie Llewellyn also captained Wales the same year, having already been captain of the London Welsh side three years earlier. 

But it was for the victory over the All Blacks that he will forever be remembered and his name still rings out in Welsh rugby circles. 

Welsh Rugby Union President Dennis Gethin OBE was among those invited to the unveiling of the Blue Plaque at Tonypandy Library on Wednesday, June 26. Also present was family members and Rhondda Cynon Taf Mayor, Councillor Linda De Vet. 

Councillor Ann Crimmings, Cabinet Member for Environment, Leisure and Heritage Services, said: “From the terraced streets of the Rhondda Valley, Willie Llewellyn went on to become synonymous with Welsh rugby, and his remarkable achievements are still fondly remembered. 

“I am delighted that his memory will forever be remembered in this way and look forward to seeing the Blue Plaque proudly on display in the town of his birth over 100 years ago.” 

The Blue Plaque, which as proposed to the Council by Bill Richards, was unveiled by Dr Mike Jones, grandson of Willie Llewellyn, who proudly brought along his grandfather’s rugby caps, jersey badges and his official British Lions Cap (No113) which was recently presented to the family by the Welsh Rugby Union. 

Born in Tonypandy on January 1, 1878, Willie Morris Llewellyn, the second of nine children, went to school locally before attending Christ College, Brecon, followed by Pharmaceutical College, Bloomsbury. 

A pharmacist by trade, Mr Llewellyn made a name for himself on the rugby field and his talent was spotted at a young age. He went on to play for Ystrad Rhondda, Llwynypia, London Welsh, Newport, Penygraig, Cardiff and Glamorgan County. 

Playing on the wing, he made his Wales debut in 1899 and went on to make 20 appearances and scoring 48 points. He also played for Great Britain in the 1904/05 season, making four appearances and scoring 12 points. 

He was part of the side which won three Triple Crown trophies, but his proudest sporting moment was being a part of the Wales team that famously beat the touring All Blacks in 1905. 

They were the first team to ever beat the All Blacks, claiming a 3-0 victory which is still talked about to this day. 

Willie’s grandson, Dr Mike Jones, said: “This is a proud day for the family and I would like to thank Bill Richards for his proposal and Rhondda Cynon Taf Council for making it happen. 

“Willie was granted the Freedom of Rhondda in 1963 and the shield hangs proudly in my brother’s home in Johannesburg. 

“The Blue Plaque here in Rhondda is a fitting tribute to a great man, a man I am so proud to call my grandfather.” 

Willie Llewellyn sadly died on March 12, 1973, aged 95. At the time he was the last surviving member of the 1905 team and his death brought to a close one of the most exciting chapters in the history of Welsh rugby.

Posted on Thursday 27th June 2019