A native of Pontywaun, was born in 1929 the only son of a local shop keeper. He attended Pontywaun County School, Risca where he first started playing rugby.
John first appeared on the left wing for Cross Keys in the 1947-48 season and was described as the elegant “pride of Pontywaun” scoring 10 tries in his first season with the club. In September 1947, aged only 18, he made his first appearance against international opposition playing in a combined Abertillery/Cross Keys side versus a touring Australian team. Another 8 tries followed in the 1948-49 season.
John joined Newport at Rodney Parade for the 1949-50 season, and he would remain at the club for the following six seasons until his retirement from the game. During his career with Newport John made over 200 appearances on the left wing scoring 396 points crossing the try line 132 times.
John was a key member Newport’s “brilliant team” of 1950-51 - P40 W37 L2 D1 For 538points Against 125points - which, in a season of records, lost only twice and set a record of 36 games without defeat. John made 34 appearances scoring 27 tries. Jack Davis, one time Senior Rugby correspondent for the South Wales Argus and chronicler of the history of Newport Rugby Football Club wrote that the team would be remembered not “so much because of the records, but rather for the character of their play. Newport played the game as it should be played - all-out attack.” In the early 1950's games against Cardiff were massive occasions playing to record crowds. In February 1951 a near record crowd of 48,500 paid £2,587 to watch Cardiff v Newport at the Arms Park. Newport won the game 3 v 8 with John scoring the winning try. This was in front of a crowd larger than any at a football league match in the country on that day. At the time it was the largest attendance for any club rugby match in the world.
The 1951-52 was also a season of records. John scored 32 tries in 33 appearances which beat a sixty year old Newport record. This feat came in April 1952 against Penarth (Won 9 v 0). The South Wales Argus wrote “15 minutes after the start of Newport’s last match of the season, their left wing John Lane scored his 31st. try and so equalled the club record set up 60 years ago”. He then went on to score another to break the record. The paper goes on to comment “Quiet unassuming John Lane the Newport wing for the past three seasons, during which he has had to travel regularly from Bristol where he is a student in order to play, today added his name to a long list of Newport players who have made history”. Jack Davis in 'One Hundred Years of Newport Rugby' observing “This was the best of John Lane's many fine seasons. His tally of 32 tries had only once been surpassed – by Arthur Gould in 1892-93.”
The 1952-53 season started well for John scoring 25 tries in 23 appearances including five tries in one game against Plymouth. It was looking like another seasons' try scoring record could be set, but things ended badly when John broke his arm against Richmond. He took no further part in that seasons' games. John came back in 1953-54 making 32 appearances scoring 15 tries and in the following season 1954-55 having the highest number of appearances of any team member at 40 and scoring 23 tries.
Through his rugby career with Newport John played against several international touring sides. In 1952 against South Africa (Lost 6 v 12), in 1954 against New Zealand (Lost 6 v 11), scoring a try against the tourists, and in 1956 against a Combined Stellenbosch and Capetown Universities side (Lost 3 v 6) sporting 10 players who were either Springboks or were capped later. They were the only team to win at Rodney Parade that year.
The 1955-56 season was the last season John appeared for Newport. He was also vice captain of the side.
In addition to Cross Keys and Newport John also played for the Welch Regiment, The Army, Monmouthshire, Captain Crawshays Welsh XV and Bristol University. He was a Welsh trialist in the early 1950’s and was reserve for Wales against Ireland in 1952. The South Wales Argus once described John “as the greatest wing in Wales, who never played for his country.” On the subject Jack Davis wrote “curiously, Wales never looked to Newport for a left wing. John Lane, one of the most dangerous wings of his time, who scored 132 tries for Newport in seven seasons, was never capped”
Ken Jones, Newport’s right wing though much of this time, wrote that John was “a quality wing who in his seven seasons scored 132 tries - almost as many as I did in 12 seasons. In 1954-55 we scored 44 tries between us and I was sorry to see him go for he was the only tea-total wing with a soprano voice we had”.
[With thanks to David Lane]