Courtenay Meredith dies age 97: Tributes paid to former British and Irish Lions star, who was part of last Wales team to win in New Zealand

  • Meredith won his first cap in a historic match against New Zealand in 1953
  • Neath prop won 18 international caps, including four on the 1955 Lions Tour 
  • Pontypridd native was part of all-Welsh front row for travellers in South Africa 

Former Wales international and British and Irish Lions front-rower Courtenay Meredith has died at the age of 97. 

Meredith was the oldest living Welsh international, and the only surviving member of the last Wales side to beat New Zealand, which the player did on only his second cap in 1953. 

The former Neath prop would go on to win 16 more international caps, four with the British and Irish Lions, for whom he featured in 1955. 

Confident at both tight and loosehead prop, Meredith featured for Neath after moving from Crynant, and was later made captain for the 1957-58 season, the last before his retirement. 

‘Iron Man’ was described by the Welsh Rugby Association as ‘more or less turning his back on rugby’ after leaving the club, as the WRU passed on their ‘sincere condolences to his friends and family’ on Thursday evening. 

Former Wales and British and Irish Lions international Courtenay Meredith has died at age 97

The front rower (middle row, left) featured in the last Wales side to beat New Zeland in 1953

The front rower (middle row, left) featured in the last Wales side to beat New Zeland in 1953

Meredith featured in all four of the matches in the Lions' Tour of South Africa in 1955 (middle row, left)

Meredith featured in all four of the matches in the Lions’ Tour of South Africa in 1955 (middle row, left)

Meredith is ranked highly among the best Welsh front row forwards of all time, with then-WRU president Gerald Davies heralding his titanic achievements on the occasion of his 95th birthday two years ago. 

‘He was one of the truly world class players in the Welsh pack in the Fifties,’ Davies said, ‘and was the cornerstone of the first all-Welsh front row for the British & Irish Lions in South Africa in 1955.’

During the mid-50s Tour, Wales drew with South Africa two-all in the four-match series, with Meredith playing every tie.  

The next time an all-Welsh front row featured on a Lions Tour came over 50 years later, when Gethin Jons, Matthew Rees, and Adam Jones lined up together in 2009. 

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