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Neath RFC


Former Neath, Wales and British Lions full back Lewis Jones has died, aged 92.
Lewis Jones was born in Gorseinon and enjoyed a brilliant schoolboy career in which he represented Wales at both rugby and cricket.
He made his first-class debut for Neath against London Hospital on January 24th, 1949 playing at centre while his brother Alun (a future Llanelly captain) was in the back row.
Young Lewis announced his arrival by scoring a try and kicking three conversions and a penalty in Neath’s 24-nil win. Neath’s other tries came from winger Keith Maddocks and skipper Morlais Thomas.
It is said that four of the ‘Big Five’ Welsh selectors came to watch Keith Maddocks that day – they all went away with the new name of Lewis Jones in their note-books !
He continued to harvest points and less than a fortnight later on February 5th, 1949  at Penarth, he equalled the then club points record of 18 by scoring 3 tries, 3 conversions and a penalty in another 24-nil win for Neath.
Rees Stephens was in the Welsh team which lost 5-6 at Murrayfield and the Neath team that day was :-
Viv Evans; Rowland Ley, Edgar de Lloyd, Lewis Jones; Roy Lambert; Leonid Morgan, Frank Williams; J.D. (Dennis) Price, Don Rees, Alf Sullivan; Dudley Thomas,  Roy John; Morlais Thomas (captain), Steve Morris, Alun Jones
Neath realised that they had a sensation on their hands and Lewis Jones scored a century of points before the end of the season.
However, a month after his 18th   birthday in April, 1949 he joined the Royal Navy to complete his National Service and he then concentrated on playing for Devonport Services and the Navy in the Inter-Services championship.
By now he was playing full back – “he ran when everyone else kicked” – and in 1949/50 he figured in the Welsh trials before earning his fist cap, still only 18, in Wales’ 11-5 win at Twickenham and it is rumoured that the gateman would not let him in as he did not believe he was a player !
Wales went on to win their first Grand Slam since 1911 and that summer Neath’s international pair of Rees Stephens and Roy John toured Australasia with the British Lions.
When Ireland full back George Crawford broke his arm, the Lions summoned Lewis Jones who became the first man to fly out to a tour. He played tests – one in New Zealand and two in Australia – and scored a record 16 points in the 19-6 win over the Wallabies in Brisbane.
His tour tally was a remarkable 112 points from 12 appearances but, with the international-to-be Viv Evans an established fixture in the Neath full back position, In October 1950 he announced he would play for Llanelly when on leave from the Navy.
On November 5th, 1952, he was lost to the game though as he went north to Leeds RL where he broke every record and won every honour that code could offer. He also represented GB rugby league and later coached in Australia.
Neath RFC’s sympathies go to the family and friends of a true rugby genius.