John Taylor

John Taylor

3 stars

  • Recently Voted Wales’s Greatest Ever Number 7

John Taylor was born on 21 July 1946 in Watford, Hertfordshire was a Welsh rugby union player. Nicknamed Basil Brush thanks to his wild hair and beard, he played as a flanker for the London Welsh RFC (of which he is now a board member), and represented Wales 26 times between 1967 and 1973.

Perhaps his most famous moment was in the Five Nations match against Scotland in 1971. The match had see-sawed backwards and forwards with each team taking the lead several times. Finally, with a few minutes to go and the score at 18-14, Wales won a line-out on the Scotland 22 metre line. The ball moved through the backs to Gerald Davies who managed to squeeze in to score a try at the right hand corner. With great presence of mind, the Scottish defence kept up the chase to prevent Davies from touching down near the posts. With the score at 18-17 and ball to be placed on the right hand side, the conversion looked almost impossible, particularly as Barry John, the usual Welsh kicker, was right footed and had been concussed earlier in the match. Instead of Barry, up stepped Basil and with great aplomb, stroked the ball perfectly between the posts. 19-18 and victory to Wales! One Welsh journalist called this The greatest conversion since Saint Paul!

John Taylor played for the British and Irish Lions on the 1971 tour to New Zealand. He was notable for the stand he took against apartheid after visiting South Africa in 1968. Taylor was invited on the 1974 Lions tour to that country but made it clear he would follow his conscience and he refused to tour.

Playing Career- London Welsh, Wales and British Lions.

26 caps for Wales (when caps were only awarded against International Board founder nations) between 1966/7 and 1973/4 – missed only 7 internationals in 7 years and four of those were because he refused to play against South Africa in 1970. Can claim to be the most successful Welsh captain ever after leading them once, to a 62-14 victory over Japan in 1973 – he was then dropped.

Probably remembered most for the last minute touch-line kick against Scotland in 1971 (‘the greatest conversion since St Paul’) which gave Wales a 19-18 victory and set-up the Grand Slam.
Feels he should be remembered more for making not only his own share of tackles but all those that should have been made by Gareth Edwards, Barry John and Phil Bennett!.

Toured South Africa with the Lions in 1968 and New Zealand in 1971 when he played in all four Tests as the Lions beat the All Blacks in a series for the first (and only) time.

He was recently voted Wales’s greatest ever number 7.

Post Playing Career

Immediately became a full-time journalist/commentator. Wrote for the Sunday Telegraph for three years before becoming the Mail on Sunday’s Rugby Correspondent from 1982 to 1998 when he left to concentrate on television and film making.

He was one of Bill McLaren’s first ‘colour commentators’ in 1975 but joined ITV in 1979 as a reporter with Thames Sport on the promise that they would ‘soon’ have a share of  the rugby coverage – eventually did his first ITV rugby commentary in 1991. In between he learned his trade by commentating on Gymnastics and Volleyball at various World Championships and four Olympic Games which insured that he had no problem with names when ITV did eventually gain the rights to cover Rugby World Cup. He was ITV’s chief commentator from 1990 to 2007 and ‘called’ four World Cup Finals including 2003 when England took the Webb Ellis Cup.

He has written and presented a number of programmes including Survival of the Fittest and Trailblazers. He has also made several coaching films and the award winning documentary, ‘Living with Lions.’ 

John is available for Corporate enagagements as well as Club Dinners and is very articulate and has some excellent anecdotes and stories from a great rugby career playing with and against many of the games greatest players. John is also a very keen golfer and is also available for golf days.