Former Wales international Haydn Mainwaring Has Died. Pic: Swansea RFC.

Haydn Mainwaring, Wales’ Founding Father Of The Bone-Crunching Tackle, Has Died

When it comes to bone-crunching tackles, Haydn Mainwaring, who died this week, could state a case for being the founding father.

We all remember JPR Williams sending Jean-Francois Gourdon bouncing into touch with a stunning shoulder charge in the 1976 Grand Slam match in Cardiff. Then there was the Scott Gibbs dumper truck impression on Oz du Randt for the Lions in South Africa in 1997.

Gavin Henson’s reputation went up a notch or two when he carried Matthew Tait like a handbag accessory in the 2005 win over England and then we all marvelled at Leigh Halfpenny’s bravery at Twickenham in the Triple Crown win over England in 2012 when he halted Dave Strettle on the line to somehow save the game.

But cast your mind back a little further to 1961 and you will unearth the moment when the Cardiff Arms Park crowd drew a sharp intake of breath as Mainwaring hit the Springboks captain Avril Malan into touch with a shoulder charge than knocked all the breath out of his body.

It saved a certain try for the Barbarians, broke a few of Malan’s ribs and left the pride of South African rugby in a crumpled heap over the touchline for the best part of two minutes.

Mainwaring would surely have loved seeing Henson’s tackle on Tait.


The Sunday Times reported that the uncapped Swansea full-back had taken out Malan “like a comet burying itself into earth”. Later in the game he hit Michael Antelem – “he felled him like an ox” – with a similar effort in midfield. Two moments to savour then, two red card offences today!

That eye-catching performance in the win over the Boks, their only defeat on that tour, finally earned him a Welsh cap against France at Stade Colombes a month later.

He was one of three new caps in the side, joining flanker Alun Pask and hooker Billy Thomas, as he lined up at centre alongside Meirion Roberts against the great Guy Boniface.

Wales went down to a 8-6 defeat and his brief flirtation with the international stage was over. But he left an indelible mark on the game . . . and Avril Malan!

Haydn Mainwaring: Born in Swansea on 10 June, 1933; died 12 September, 2018 (85)

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