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The versatile Alun PaskJohn GriffithsAugust 28, 2014
I have been told that Alun Pask, the Abertillery Welsh cap of the 1960s, once played for Wales as a full-back, but the records show he played all his Tests as a back-row? A Scourfield, Wales
Alun Pask was earmarked for Welsh honours as early as 1958, but the Welsh selectors did not finally award him a cap until March 1961 when he was called up as flanker in the back-row that narrowly lost (6-8) to France in Paris.
Pask was tall and lean with good hands. He had an uncanny knack for being in the right place at the right time in defence, but a criticism that was levelled at him was that he shirked some of the heavy grafting expected of forwards.
All told he won 26 successive caps, leading Wales in seven internationals at the end of his run, including the 1966 Five Nations when Wales were outright champions. His failure to effect a change of tactics in Dublin that year, where Wales were denied the Triple Crown by a lively Irish side who inflicted an unexpected 9-6 win on the favourites, was thought to be the reason for the Lions selectors overlooking him for the tour captaincy for the visit to Australia and New Zealand. Scotland's Mike Campbell-Lamerton was skipper instead - a controversial decision at the time, particularly in Wales.
Even so, Pask was too good to leave out of the tour party and he played in five of the six Tests on that trip. He had also toured South Africa with Arthur Smith's Lions in 1962, playing in three of the Tests.
He started all his international rugby matches in the back-row, but famously deputised as a full-back during the first-half of the 1965 Wales-Ireland match at Cardiff Arms Park, when both sides were unbeaten and going for the Triple Crown.
Early in the match Wales lost their centre John Dawes, injured after he bravely saved a try by diving at the feet of the Irish centres when danger threatened. These were the days before replacements were allowed and while he was off the field for 20 minutes or so, Ireland threw everything at the Welsh.
This was when Pask showed his versatility by moving to full-back (with Terry Price, the starting No.15 moving up to fill Dawes's place in the centre). Pask was outstanding, making three clearances with assurance during his short stay in the position - a performance, it was reported, that would have done justice to a top-class full-back.
Once Dawes was patched up and returned, Pask went back into the Welsh back-row and helped his pack establish the dominance up front that laid the foundations for their 14-8 Triple Crown win.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.