A HEREFORDSHIRE rugby club boss descended from the writer of one of Wales's most famous hymns has waded into the Delilah row.

John Wilesmith, of Ledbury, is distantly related to William Williams Pantycelyn, who wrote what would become Bread of Heaven.

And while that tune's place in the Welsh rugby canon is assured, Delilah's is not.

The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said this month that Tom Jones' 1968 hit is banned because of its lyrics.


Mr Wilesmith, 64, is an avid rugby fan and has sung Delilah for years.

But after looking at the lyrics closely, he said he agrees with the decision.

The grandad-of-three, who works at the Three Counties Showground in Malvern, said: “At first I thought it was ridiculous, but then I looked at the lyrics.

"I can’t see how it crept under the wire all these years. It’s a bit like finding out your favourite uncle has a bit of a dodgy past.

"But lots of jokes and lyrics that were thought acceptable once rightly aren’t now and we have to move with the times."

Allegations of a toxic culture at the WRU have been reported in recent weeks.

This had led some people – including current stars – to claim that songs are not what the organisation should be looking at.

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Mr Wilesmith agrees, and said: "I can’t help feeling that this is a bit of a knee-jerk reaction and a soft target.

"They should focus on completely stripping back the whole organisation and starting again. They’ve got no other choice.

“There are so many people singing it who have no idea of its relevance to domestic violence.

"It would be better to encourage them to think about it and become more aware."


Mr Wilesmith played for the local rugby club and is now chairman.

His grandmother Mary Williams – her maiden name – was a direct descendant of Pantycelyn.

He wrote Arglwydd, arwain trwy’r anialwch in 1745, which was translated into English decades later.

That version includes the Bread of Heaven line and is now sung to the tune of Cwm Rhondda.