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The Scrum-Half Prince
The Welsh Legend Gareth Edwards
Posted Jan 24, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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In the world of sport, there are few players who encompass everything that is excellent about their sport quite so much as the Welsh Rugby scrum-half Gareth Owen Edwards, a man that Rugby World magazine voted the greatest player of all time in a 2003, and former England captain Will Carling said ‘sits astride the whole of rugby as the ultimate athlete on the pitch.’
Born as the son of a miner in Gwaun-cae-Gurwen, Edwards was always gifted when it came to sports, showing strong prowess in gymnastics, track and field and also excelling in soccer, signing for Swansea City at the age of 16. He earned his first cap for Wales at the age of 19 on April Fool’s Day 1967 in a 20-14 losing effort to the French in Paris.
Over the course of the next eleven years, Edwards won 53 caps for his country – 13 of them as captain - in succession, without a hint of injury or a dip in form, and earned his reputation as a magnificent finisher of his team’s moves. Utilising frightening pace, strength and agility, Edwards possessed every gift that a man can be given in the world of rugby.
Perhaps his most impressive statistic, though, was the fact that he was rewarded his country’s captaincy at the age of only twenty – a record which remains standing to this day – when he took charge of the Wales side in a 5-0 victory against Scotland, Edwards linking up superbly with Barry John & Phil Bennet, both magnificent players in their own right. The link up play between Edwards and John especially was exceptional, both men plying their trade for the same club as well as their country, possessing an almost telepathic like ability to know exactly what the other was hoping to achieve.
It says something about Edward’s ability that despite the thousands of tries that have been scored in the sport, the phrase ‘THAT try’ is still retained for use when referring a remarkable try that Edwards scored when playing against the All Blacks in 1973 for the Barbarians. Beginning with the tiny Bennet near his own goal line and facing the All-Black side (widely considered one of the greatest in the sport’s history), Bennet twisted and turned through three tackles, and sent the ball on it’s way via a four-pairs-of-hands exchange before Edwards made a surging run to score in the corner. For those who haven’t been fortunate enough to see the try yet, we suggest you click here!
Whilst players such as Lomu became the game’s first superstars, Edwards set the standards for sheer excellence in the game, and will still be remembered for years to come as possibly the perfect rugby player.