Ken Jones, Welsh rugby center who played with Elan for the Lions and his country – obituary

His Wales debut came in a 0-0 draw with England at Twickenham in 1962 – one of only two international matches to end without a goal – and after just three caps he was invited to join the Lions tour of South Africa aged 21, scoring from his fabulous Jinking Run in Johannesburg on his Test debut and scoring nine tries in 13 appearances during the trip.

Four years later, during the Lions’ grueling five-month tour of Australia and New Zealand, Jones played an influential role in an 11-8 loss to Australia in the first Test in Sydney, then scored two tries in a 31-0 thrashing of the Wallabies in Brisbane, one of the highest winning margins in a Lions Test.

A 2-0 series win gave the Lions heart for subsequent internationals in New Zealand, but all four were lost to an intimidatingly strong All Blacks side; Jones, perhaps fortunately, only featured in the first of them, a 20-3 defeat at Dunedin which turned out to be his final appearance for the Lions. He played 29 Lions games, including six Tests.

During the Australian leg of the 1966 tour, Jones had been approached a second time to change codes – on this occasion by St George in Sydney – but once again he turned down the opportunity, preferring instead to stick to the amateur game in Wales. In 1965, after 140 appearances for Llanelli, he moved to Cardiff, scoring a try in the club’s famous defeat to Australia in 1966 and staying there for four years after his international retirement, appearing 104 times before resigning to the end of 1970.

As well as Llanelli and Cardiff, Jones also won five caps with the Barbarians, had a short spell with Paarl in South Africa, having remained playing for them after the 1962 Lions tour, and represented Oxford University while while studying for a master’s degree at Merton. College in 1963-64.

Away from rugby, he worked for the Confederation of British Industry in Wales, where he became part of a unit trying to attract investment to the country. In 1972, partly as a result of his efforts, Takiron, a plastics manufacturing subsidiary of the Japanese trading company Itochu, opened a factory in Bedwas, becoming the second Japanese company to start manufacturing in Britain. Through his contacts with the company, Jones eventually became general manager and then president of Takiron.

A long-time resident of Cardiff, he has served on several occasions on the Board of Governors of Cardiff University and the University of Wales, a member of the Board of the National Museum Wales and Chairman of the Governors of the Museum of Welsh Life.

Jones is survived by his wife Ann and their daughter and son.

Ken Jones, born August 1, 1941, died August 24, 2022

Charles P. Patton