Leeds Rhinos legend Lewis Jones dies after short illness

LEEDS legend Lewis Jones has passed away aged 92 after a short illness.

Jones will forever go down in Headingley folklore, having moved north from Gorseinon, near Swansea, in 1952 to switch codes.

He captained Leeds to their first ever league championship in 1961, having lifted the Challenge Cup at Wembley four years earlier.

Prior to switching codes, he had already made his debut for Wales whilst still a teenager at Twickenham against England before earning a call up to the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia in 1950.

Born on April 11, 1931, he played for his home town of Gorseinon and Neath before National Service took him to Devonport as a Stores Assistant on H.M.S. Fisgard. He was spotted playing Services’ rugby and elevated to national selection.

After national service, he played for Llanelli and was the constant source of interest for Rugby League clubs looking for union talent. He initially rebutted those approaches but was eventually persuaded to move to Headingley for a then record fee of £6,000.

His finest hour came as stand-off at Odsal on May 20, 1961, in the title clincher. A fortnight earlier, he had master-minded the defeat of St Helens in a gripping semi-final at Headingley, and at Bradford his tally of a try and five goals ensured he would become the first Leeds captain ever to collect the Championship trophy.

He played his final game for Leeds on Easter Monday 1964, before moving to Wentworthville, in the Sydney area, as player-coach.

Jones returned to Leeds in 1972 to take up an appointment as a maths specialist at Silver Royd High School and was a coach to Leeds ‘A’ for a season, prior to taking over first-team duties briefly at Dewsbury during 1977-78.

In total, he made 385 appearances for Leeds, scoring 144 tries, kicking 1,244 goals and producing 2,920 points, both of latter were records at the time of his retirement.

He was capped 15 times by Great Britain Rugby League, including touring in 1954 and playing in the 1957 World Cup in Australia. In rugby union, he was awarded ten caps for Wales between 1950 and 1952 and played three Tests on the 1950 Lions tour.

He was inducted into the Rugby League Hall of Fame in 2013 before being one of the first players inducted into the Leeds Rugby Hall of Fame in 2017. Lewis was also an inductee into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame Roll of Honour.

Click here to purchase a digital edition of League Express.

Click here to purchase an online edition of League Express through pocketmags.com.

Click here to listen to our new League Express Podcast.

League Express is widely available from local newsagents across the north of England.