Mervyn Davies

Thomas Mervyn Davies OBE (9 December 1946 – 15 March 2012),[5][6] often known as "Merv the Swerve", was a Welsh rugby union player who won 38 caps for Wales as a No. 8.

Mervyn Davies
Mervyn Davies in Wales strip.jpg
Birth nameThomas Mervyn Davies
Date of birth(1946-12-09)9 December 1946
Place of birthSwansea, Wales
Date of death15 March 2012(2012-03-15) (aged 65)
Height1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) [1][2][3][4]
Weight93 kg (14 st 9 lb)[3][4]
SchoolPenlan County School
Rugby union career
Position(s) Number eight
Amateur team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
London Welsh RFC
Swansea RFC
Barbarian F.C.
National team(s)
Years Team Apps (Points)
British Lions

Early lifeEdit

Davies was born in Swansea, where he attended Penlan County School. His father had played club rugby.

Rugby playing careerEdit

Tall and slight of frame, he grew a Mexican moustache to make himself appear more aggressive on the rugby field. He was nicknamed "Merv the Swerve".

Club rugbyEdit

Davies joined London Welsh in 1968, later moving to Swansea.

Wales and Lions international rugbyEdit

Davies won his first cap for Wales in 1969 against Scotland, going on to play 38 consecutive matches for Wales and scoring two tries. During this period Wales won two Grand Slams and three Triple Crowns.

He went on the British and Irish Lions tours to New Zealand in 1971 and to South Africa in 1974, playing in all eight tests. Colin Meads said Davies was "the one player who probably had the biggest impact on that 1971 Lions Test series," particularly as he prevented NZ winning line out ball via Brian Lochore.[7] Willie John McBride and Ian McLauchlan both said Davies was even better on the 1974 tour.[8][9] Many expected Davies to captain the 1977 Lions.[10]

In a total of 46 international appearances for Wales and the Lions he only ended on the losing side nine times.


Davies key attributes were lineout play, ball handling skill (including offloading in tight situations), commitment, mental strength, and anticipation.[11][12]

In 2001 Davies was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame. In a poll of Welsh rugby fans in 2002, he was voted both Greatest Ever Welsh Captain and Greatest Ever Welsh Number 8. [13] Davies continues to be rated as one of the best No. 8s ever to have played the game.[14][2]


His career was ended by a subarachnoid hemorrhage suffered when captaining Swansea against Pontypool in 1976. He had collapsed during a game on another occasion, four years earlier, and had been wrongly diagnosed with meningitis.[15] Following the second incident he was a patient in the University Hospital of Wales for several months, and received goodwill messages from all over the world.

He was a smoker and was diagnosed with lung cancer (adenocarcinoma) in November 2011. He died 4 months later.

Davies had a son and daughter by his first wife Shirley; the marriage ended in divorce. He is survived by his second wife Jeni and his three stepchildren, and by his two children from his first marriage.[6]


  • Mervyn Davies & David Roach - In Strength and Shadow (Mainstream, 2005)
  • The Mervyn Davies Story (BBC2, September 2007)


  1. ^ "Mervyn Davies". The Daily Telegraph.
  2. ^ a b "Mervyn Davies obituary". The Guardian. 16 March 2012.
  3. ^ a b "Mervyn Davies obituary: The great No 8 with the grace of a gazelle". WalesOnline. 17 March 2012.
  4. ^ a b Taylor, John. "A fitting tribute". ESPN scrum.
  5. ^ Mervyn Davies international rugby profile
  6. ^ a b "Telegraph obituary". The Daily Telegraph. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 10 January 2013.
  7. ^ Meads said; "For years so much of our play had revolved around throwing to Brian Lochore at the back of the line-out, but Mervyn dominated that area of the game for the entire series and stopped us playing."
  8. ^ Foreword, In Strength And Shadow: The Mervyn Davies Story, Roach, Davies
  9. ^ Ian McLauchlan; "Mervyn was immense on both tours, but again took a step up in South Africa, where he was just superb. He... never got the credit he deserved. But there is no praise high enough for that man." Chapter 21, Undefeated, Rhodri Davies
  10. ^ Orders, Mark (3 October 2018). "The inside story behind the picture of a rugby legend being carried off". WalesOnline.
  11. ^ Willie John McBride in Foreword, In Strength And Shadow: The Mervyn Davies Story, Roach, Davies
  12. ^ "He was simply brilliant at reading the game.", Barry John, quoted in Chapter 1, Nobody Beats Us, David Tossell
  13. ^ "Wales legend Mervyn Davies dies after losing fight against cancer". BBC. 16 March 2012. Retrieved 16 March 2012.
  14. ^ Barnes, Stephen Jones, Stuart. "Iron-hard 'Buck', Merv the Swerve and Kieran Read's rare skillset: the greatest No 8s ranked". The Times.
  15. ^ Independent Sports[dead link]