Two rugby clubs that were close to the heart of ‘Dr Jack’ will meet in a special ‘Tribute Match’ to the former centre who was nicknamed ‘Iron Man’ for the strength of his tackling.
Like Roberts, ‘Dr Jack’ played for Cardiff, Wales and the Lions and, like Roberts, he also won a Grand Slam, in 1950. He died aged 92 last year.
Cardiff Blues star Roberts instantly agreed to join in the tribute when he was invited to kick-off the game between the Welsh Academicals and the Cardiff Medicals.
The big kick-off will also have a link to both ‘Dr Jack’ and Roberts, given that Lions suppliers Rhino have kindly donated match balls that will be used in the tourists’ opening game in Hong Kong on Saturday, 1 June..
It has been less than a year since Welsh sport first mourned the passing of a man who was good enough to win 17 Welsh cap and play in six Lions Tests, and fearless enough to have stepped into the boxing ring with Rocky Marciano for four rounds.
“For me, Dr Jack is the ultimate role model for what he achieved as a Lion, doctor and soldier. If I emulate anything near what he achieved in his life then I’ll be a very happy man,” said Roberts.
“He was a very special person whom I was privileged to meet on a few occasions. I attended his funeral service and the tributes paid to him there made you realise what a legend he was.
“We all know about how tough a tackler he was, how he made so many tries for his great pal Bleddyn Williams and how good a player he must have been to win a Grand Slam with Wales and play in all six Tests on the 1950 Lions tour, but that is only half the story.
“He was a doctor for decades and he did a wonderful job in that role as well – the ultimate doctor, ultimate rugby player and even the ultimate boxer!”
The Welsh Academicals have picked a team that includes a number of British Army representatives, including two Fijians. Jarrad Williams will captain the team from No 8.
“Dr Jack was a hugely popular and respected rugby player and doctor and we felt a match between two teams he was very fond of, on his beloved Cardiff Arms Park, would be the perfect way to pay tribute to him,” said Welsh Accies secretary Denys Thomas.
“He captained the Accies against a New Zealand Army XV at Abercynon in 1945 and played for Cardiff Medicals before that, so the fixture is a perfect fit for the occasion.”
Welsh Academicals: Charles Corderoy (British Army); Ollie Turton (Uni of West Glam), James Cordy-Reddan (Uni of West Eng), Rifleman Jotame Nalewabau (5th Battalion The Rifles), Kieron Driscoll (Uni of West Eng), Owen Thomas (Uni of Glam), Joe Raikes (Uni of Glam/Pontypridd), Rhodri Hanmer (Swansea Met/Rumney), Thomas Owen (Reading Uni), Myles Davies (1 st Queens Dragoon Guards), Harrison Williams (Uni of Newport), Henri Williams (Loughborough Uni), LCpl Cabemaiwasa (Royal Scots Dragoon Guards), Stuart Worrell (Uni of Glam), Jarrad Williams (Bishop Burton College, Captain)
Replacements: Geraint James (Uni of Glam), Jack Williams(Cardiff Met), Ryan Oakes (Uni of Glam), Trystran Treharne (Loughborough), Ross Parsons (Uni West Eng), Huw Reeves (RAF Loughborough), Ben Cullen (Uni of Glam /Nelson), AN OTHER
Cardiff Medicals: Lewis Isaac; Duncan Meikle, Steffan Morgan, Steve Wiggill, Paul Bumford; Chris Edwards, Gian Luca Trisolini; Nick Willetts, Rhys Price, Ben Price, Ivan Anderson, Paul Smith, Mike Cooper, Pat Emanuel (Captain), Tom Hathaway
Replacements (from): Sam Trewick, Tom McAbe, Joe Arthur, James Brook, Liam Carroll, Harri Wilson, Ifan Patchell, Charles Close, Harry Wilson, Lawrence Smith, Dan Phillips.
* Entry to the game is £5 with a programme and Under 16 entry is free.