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A memoir of Mervyn Davies

With the Six Nations back on our screens, now is the opportunity to share one of the most precious photos we have in our collection: the legendary Welsh internationalist and British Lion Mervyn Davies, who taught sport and coached rugby at Emanuel in the early 1970s.

There cannot be many schoolboys out there who can claim to be coached by a British Lion and Mervyn, famously, had to ask the Headmaster for time off to tour New Zealand with the Lions!

Mike Hogg was one of the schoolboys luckily enough to be taught by Mervyn Davies, and he fondly recalls that special time:

“I was privileged that Mervyn Davies was our coach for my two full seasons in the school 1st XV. He was inspirational - not only for what he had and was achieving at international level - but also because he was such a nice, unassuming and humble man. He spoke quietly - but every word was worth listening to with care. His mild and laid-back manner did however cloak a steely core. Merv was refereeing our school 1st XV against Met Police W division - and in the first half they had used their men v boys physical advantage to full effect. At half time Merv called over their second row captain - and said "leave my boys alone" - they did! His inclusion of all of us at his Roundhouse celebration of his '71 Lions' selection - and getting us all into the Angel Hotel to meet the players of both sides after a Cardiff international - were also moments I will never forget. I cried when I heard he had died, as I know did many of my contemporaries: that is a tribute to the impact he had upon us all.”

Mike very kindly gave us the attached photograph for which we are very grateful; Mervyn can be seen wearing his British Lions tracksuit. Obviously when Merv taught at Emanuel he was also playing his own club rugby for London Welsh, and so when he wasn’t available the 1st XV had fantastic backup in Tony Phillips (Geography/PE 1964-74) who also played top level rugby. Although Mervyn concentrated on the 1st XV he also helped out with the younger squads and opposition dressing rooms were often stunned when this great sportsman appeared after a match to congratulate them for their efforts in the recently finished fixture.

The Emanuel boys taught by him never forgot this amazing experience and we know from conversations how fondly they remember Mervyn.

Mr Jones (Senior Librarian and Archivist)