These days, the word “dapper” has been soiled by its wrongful association with the hipster movement. But to those of us of a certain age, it has honorable origins. For this child of the 70s, the word is synonymous with one person, Thomas Gerald Reames Davies CBE MA (Cantab).
But Gerald Davies (for it is he) is far more than a man of letters with a very good tailor. He is a legend of world rugby. And a very fine wordsmith.
I’ve been a fan of Gerald’s writing in The Times for many years, and it’s always a tremendous pleasure to sit and read his prose. In “The Greatest Welsh Tries Ever”, TGR Davies has a bountiful treasure of material to describe in his lyrical terms. This volume is also blessed with some smashing illustrations; literally, when it comes to the tackles. Did you see what I did there?
But I digress. Over the festive period, many of us long for a few snatched moments of peace and quiet in the midst of the yuletide throng. For a rugby fan, I can think of no better book to take with me to that quiet corner, to engorge oneself with TGR Davies’ rhapsodic nuggets and anecdotes from the rich history of rugby football.
Ever modest, Gerald has refused to consider any of his own spectacular tries for Wales, the Lions, the Barbarians or London Welsh in his list of 15 top touchdowns. My own favourites are the hat-trick of tries from that fleeting season of Welsh glory in 1988, when we snatched a Triple Crown with a mixture of guile, controlled aggression and athleticism. Give me Ieuan Evans, Jonathan Davies or Adrian Hadley’s tries from that season; when described by the pen of TGR Davies, they’re all winners for me.