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How Bad was JPR Williams’ Injury in the 1978 Rugby Match Against New Zealand?

It is a well-known fact that rugby is a rough sport. In fact, experts say that this particular sport is officially the toughest in the world. Players know what they signed up for, and they are well prepared for the severe injuries that may occur during the game. One of the most gruesome injuries happened to rugby star JPR Williams.

During a rugby match against New Zealand, JPR Williams was deliberately stomped on by an opposing player. This act ripped his cheek open and left his teeth visible through the wound. Williams lost two pints of blood due to the injury but had his dad sew 30 stitches to close the wound before going back to the game.

Who is JPR Williams?

John Peter Rhys Williams was born on March 2, 1949, in Bridgend, Wales. He started schooling at the Bridgend Boys Grammar School and then moved to the Millfield School in Somerset.

As a young boy, he took an interest in tennis. He played at a youth level and won the 1966 British Junior title at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in Wimbledon. This was often referred to as Junior Wimbledon. He eventually moved his focus from tennis to rugby. He played as an amateur and pursued a career in medicine. Due to his skill, he attracted attention and was drafted by Wales when he turned 19. (Source: Wales Online)

The Game Against the All Blacks in 1978

The blood-soaked JPR Williams leaving the field mid-game against New Zealand’s All Black remains to be one of the most brutally iconic memories in rugby history.

During the first half of the match, Williams found himself at the bottom of a ruck when New Zealand All Blacks player John Ashworth came in and deliberately stomped on his face.

He came in and raked me, tearing a huge hole in my cheek. I lost two pints of blood and had to get 30 stitches

JPR Williams

Williams emerged from the ruck, and fans of Bridgend vented their disgust towards the opposing team that did him dirty. He was assisted off the field by Graham Mourie and Lyndon Thomas.

I had a good view of the incident and it was a proper stamp. 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 excuse for what happened to John. It was an awful incident.

Lyndon Thomas

While some may have thought this was it for Williams, everyone was surprised to see him back on the field. Williams had his father stitch him up, and in a matter of moments, he was back in the game.

t was a terrible injury. You could literally see through his cheek. He turned to me and said: ‘Steve, you take charge. I’ll be back in two minutes.’ And I thought: ‘No you won’t. You’ll be in hospital. A few minutes later, I heard the crowd erupt behind the posts, and there he was, sprinting back on with this grim expression, wearing these horrible stitches in his face. Two big knots in his face. He looked like Frankenstein’s monster. The All Blacks were absolutely gobsmacked that he’d come back. They tested him out immediately with a high ball, he took it and ran straight back over the top of the All Black forwards. He was determined to come back on. If it had been me, I’d have been ‘hands up for the ambulance’. That wasn’t JPR’s style.

Steve Fenwick

(Source: Wales Online)

What Does JPR Williams Do Today?

Williams retired from international rugby in 1981. He continued his career as an orthopedic surgeon but continued to play rugby well into his 50s. By 2003 he officially retired from the sport. Today he serves as the President of the Bridgend Ravens. (Source: Wales Online)

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