Rugby fan whose ancestor wrote famous Welsh hymn wades into row over banning of Tom Jones’ hit Delilah – saying reading the lyrics is ‘like finding out your favourite uncle has a bit of a dodgy past’

  •  John Wilesmith is related to writer William Williams Pantycleyn
  •  The grandad-of-three said he thought the decision to ban was ridiculous at first 

A Welsh rugby fan descended from the writer of one of the country’s most famous hymns has waded into a row over banning Tom Jones’ hit song Delila.

John Wilesmith, 64, is distantly related to William Williams Pantycelyn, who wrote what would become Bread of Heaven.

While that tune’s place in the Welsh rugby canon is assured, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said this week that Tom Jones’ 1968 hit Delilah is banned because of its lyrics.

Mr Wilesmith is an avid rugby fan and has sung Delilah for years but after looking at the lyrics closely, he says he agrees with the decision.

The granfather-of-three 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.

John Wilesmith, pictured above,  is distantly related to William Williams Pantycelyn, who wrote what would become Bread of Heaven. He said reading the Delilah  lyrics is ‘like finding out your favourite uncle has a bit of a dodgy past’

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

‘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.

John 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.

Allegations of a toxic culture at the WRU have been reported and  this  led some people – including current stars – to claim that songs are not what the organisation should be looking at

John, right,  with Bill Beaumont, left. A rugby fan is selling his signed set of 1,000 handcrafted wooden models of the game’s top players – valued at £20k

‘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.

John, of Ledbury, Heref., 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.

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