Legendary Wales fly-half Phil Bennett dies on the age of 73 following a battle with sickness… no-one else embodied Welsh rugby’s adventurous strategy and care-free spirit fairly like him
- Former Wales fly-half Phil Bennett has died aged 73 after a battle with sickness
- Bennett represented the British & Irish Lions and in addition performed for Llanelli
- No one embodied Welsh rugby’s adventurous strategy fairly like Bennett
In April, a statue of Phil Bennett was unveiled in his house village of Felinfoel in Carmarthenshire.
It was a bodily manifestation of the previous Llanelli, Wales and British & Irish Lions fly-half’s legacy, though his place in rugby’s pantheon of greats had lengthy since been secured.
Bennett – who has handed away at 73 after a battle with sickness – won’t ever be forgotten. Together with his jinking sidestep and operating capacity, no-one else embodied Welsh rugby’s historically adventurous strategy and care-free spirit fairly like him.
Former Wales fly-half Phil Bennett has handed away aged 73 following a battle with sickness
No-one embodied Welsh rugby’s adventurous strategy and carefree spirit like Bennett
Bennett, recognized for his jinking sidestep and operating capacity, made 29 appearances for Wales
Solely Barry John and, extra just lately Shane Williams, can declare to have come wherever shut. A working-class hero to many in Wales, Bennett’s outrageous particular person brilliance was greatest summed up when he confronted New Zealand with the Barbarians in 1973.
Sir Gareth Edwards – with whom Bennett shaped a legendary half-back partnership – may need scored what’s broadly acknowledged as the very best attempt in rugby historical past, nevertheless it was his outdated mucker who began off the transfer. Bennett despatched would-be All Blacks tacklers flying together with his dancing toes.
Not for the primary time in his profession, no-one may lay a hand on him. Bennett hit his peak between 1974 and 1978. His on-field exploits noticed him turn out to be a key determine within the well-known Welsh facet of the 1970’s alongside Edwards, Gerald Davies, JPR Williams and John Dawes amongst others.
He received two Grand Slams with Wales in what was then the 5 Nations and in 1974, was a part of the heroic, unbeaten Lions facet that claimed Check victory in South Africa. Bennett performed on injured in that collection with the Springboks to turn out to be a member of ‘The invincibles.’ Willie John McBride – captain on that tour – stated Bennett was the distinction.
Bennett (pictured in 2008) captained Llanelli, who are actually often called Scarlets
Bennett additionally captained the Lions in 1977 and was revered for his performances with Llanelli (now Scarlets) and in addition within the well-known shirt of the Barbarians.
Scarlets stated in a press release on Sunday evening: ‘It’s with the deepest unhappiness we announce the passing of membership legend, former captain and Scarlets President Phil Bennett. ‘Phil handed away peacefully at his house on Sunday night surrounded by his shut household. ‘Our ideas are with Phil’s spouse Pat, sons Steven and James and household and associates at this extremely unhappy time. ‘Extensively considered the best participant to put on the Scarlets jersey, ‘Benny’ performed 413 instances for Llanelli RFC from his debut towards Swansea on the age of 18 to his last look at his beloved Stradey Park in 1981.’
Bennett retired from worldwide rugby at simply 29 in 1978 after main Wales to a Grand Slam and carried on taking part in for Llanelli. With out him, Wales went right into a steep decline. A person of the individuals, Bennett grew to become a sports activities growth officer for Carmarthenshire Council after retirement having been a metal employee as a younger man. He was inducted into World Rugby’s corridor of fame in 2005. Bennett won’t have been the largest, however he took no prisoners and by no means a backward step.
Bennett (pictured at Stradey Park in Llanelli in 2003) was inducted into World Rugby’s corridor of fame in 2005
Between 1974 and 1977, Bennett made eight appearances for the British Lions
He thrived in Wales’ well-known No 10 jersey after the sudden and shock retirement of John. Earlier than dealing with England in 1977, Bennett famously advised his Wales team-mates: ‘Look what these b******* have achieved to Wales. They’ve taken our coal, our water, our metal. They purchase our properties and reside in them for a fortnight yearly. What have they given us? Completely nothing. ‘We have been exploited, raped, managed and punished by the English – and that is who you might be taking part in this afternoon.’
Such febrile parochialism would possibly make you consider Bennett as a person whose firm you wouldn’t need to share. The other is true. Bennett was at all times approachable and vivacious. He was accessible and by no means afraid to share his ideas on rugby. He had an extended profession writing a newspaper column.
Bennett in motion for Llanelli towards London Welsh throughout a recreation in October 1975
This reporter remembers interviewing Bennett in Aberystwyth on one summer season’s afternoon on the eve of a brand new season. He had a glint in his eye when he mentioned the marketing campaign to come back and the prospects of modern-day Welsh stars just like the Scarlets-produced Jonathan Davies and George North. Bennett liked the sport, its camaraderie, and every little thing that went with it. He was greeted by present Wales centre Davies on the unveiling of his statue in Felinfoel – the village by which he was born – as he was honoured in entrance of members of the membership he liked most.
On the time, former Wales centre Tom Shanklin remarked the statue of Bennett ought to have been engraved in gold and never wooden. It was a perceptive remark. Nonetheless, the make-up of Bennett’s effigy issues little. He’ll at all times be remembered as not solely top-of-the-line to have ever pulled on a Wales shirt, but in addition to play rugby in any respect. He’ll perpetually have a spot within the sport’s folklore.