Tributes paid as England and Lions great David Duckham dies aged 76

England great David Duckham has died aged 76.

Duckham won 36 caps from 1969 to 1976, initially as a centre before going on to make his mark as a dynamic wing who brought flair to an otherwise conservative side.

He retired as the nation’s second highest try-scorer behind Cyril Lowe with 10, a significant feat given England finished bottom of the Five Nations in four of the seven years he played.

The triumphant 1971 British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand provided a better platform to demonstrate his brilliance and he took full advantage, playing in three of the four Tests.

In the midweek game against West Coast/Buller he scored six tries and he finished the tour with 11 touchdowns in 16 appearances.

His mesmerising contribution to the Barbarians’ famous 23-11 victory over the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in 1973 earned him the nickname ‘Dai’ from Wales fans in appreciation of his swashbuckling style.

Rugby Football Union president Nigel Gillingham said in a statement: “David Duckham was not only one of the greatest and most talented of English players, but also a player so greatly admired around the world. At this saddest of times we offer our condolences to his family.”

His former England and Lions team-mate John Spencer added: “It was an honour to be David’s partner on the pitch. He was one of the greatest ever players with ball in hand and a pivotal part of the Lions success in 1971, the only Lions tour that we ever won in New Zealand.

“He was widely respected by players around the world and was a gentle, kind man, with a great sense of humour. David will be hugely missed by all who knew him.”

The Lions called Duckham “a legend of our sport” and added on Twitter: “He will be greatly missed, all of our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Coventry, the only club Duckham played for during his career, said they were “incredibly sad” to learn of his death.

The club added in a statement: “Donned as arguably the ‘greatest’ ever Coventry player, our thoughts go out to David’s family at this difficult time.

“The club will demonstrate a minute’s silence prior to kick-off at this Saturday’s match against Jersey and will be looking to organise a celebration of life for David, subject to conversations with the family. Rest in peace, David.”