Thomas Gerald Reames Davies, CBE. A name immediately synonymous with rugby royalty and which makes supporters of a certain age weep for times gone by. A player possessed with tremendous pace, an outrageous ability to beat outside defenders and a sidestep that made the Gods smile. To quote Rugby World:
Such was Davies’ fame during the late Sixties and Seventies that he was known by a single name: Gerald. With a heavy moustache, jet-black locks and a jackhammer sidestep, Davies was a debonair figure who in a split-second could thrust himself through the tightest of midfield gaps. He was also an instinctive finisher, often leaping like a salmon to dot down inside the corner flag with millimetres to spare.
A native of Llansaint and alumnus of Loughborough College and Cambridge University (where he won 3 Blues), Gerald first joined Cardiff in season 1965-66. Originally a centre, he was switched to wing by Clive Rowlands on Wales’ 1969 tour to Australia and New Zealand (though he had already appeared for Wales Secondary Schools and Cambridge in that position). At the time, it was a move that he did not regard as a ‘permanent job’. After Cambridge, a six-year spell at London Welsh followed, playing in the magical side of that era alongside John Dawes, JPR and Mervyn Davies, before re-joining the mighty Blue and Blacks in 1974-5.
In nine seasons, Gerald scored 322 points for the club in 167 appearances (comprising 73 tries, 12 conversions and 9 penalties). For Wales, he made 46 appearances, and scored 20 tries— including a highly memorable one against Scotland in in 1971 that enabled John Taylor to kick the ‘greatest conversion since St. Paul’ to win the match. He made five appearances for the British Lions, playing in every Test in the victorious 1971 series against the All Blacks and scoring three tries in the process. He also scored four tries in the provincial match against Hawkes Bay. More Lions caps would undoubtedly have followed had not turned down the opportunity to tour South Africa in 1974 because of his opposition to apartheid, though he returned to that country as Lions’ manager in 2009 once the regime had ended.
During his second spell at the Arms Park, Gerald was elected Cardiff captain for three successive seasons, including the Centenary Year. His most memorable match was the WRU Cup game at against Pontypool in 1978 in what proved to be his final season. On a muddy pitch and with the Pooler pack at the peak of its powers, Cardiff seemed to only win the ball half a dozen times in the entire match, but Gerald scored four tries and all the club’s points in a thrilling 16-11 victory. He also appeared regularly for the Barbarians. Gerald was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2015 and is currently President of the WRU.
'A History of Blue and Black - The Greats' is a new series brought to you by Cardiff Blues, in association with CF10 Rugby Trust and local artist, Tim Driscoll. We look back at the life and careers of Cardiff Arms Park's most iconic figures - from the rugby team's inception in 1876 through to the 21 century and the regional era.