Phil Bennett (02)
Welsh Rugby Star Phil Bennett
Phil Bennett made his Wales debut on the 22 March 1969 against France in Paris at the age of 20 when he became the first ever Welsh substitute in international rugby, replacing an injured Gerald Davies. Initially, Phil played in a number of positions including fullback and centre, but settled in the fly-half position in 1972. He succeeded the legendary Barry John in that position.
Phil Bennett form meant that he joined the British Lions on their famous tour to South Africa in 1974, scoring 103 points. His 50-yard try against Pretoria on that tour was a career highlight. Even so, a place in the Wales side was not guaranteed, and he found himself a tightly marked man for the rest of his career. This meant he never reached the heights of 1974, although he did captain the British Lions on the 1977 Tour. In 1977 Phil Bennett's pre-game pep talk before facing England produced a memorable quote: "Look what these bastards have done to Wales. They've taken our coal, our water, our steel. They buy our homes and live in them for a fortnight every year. What have they given us? Absolutely nothing. We've been exploited, raped, controlled and punished by the English — and that's who you are playing this afternoon."
Phil Bennett retired from international rugby union in 1978, having won a total of 29 caps. He played his club rugby at Llanelli RFC, where he played 16 seasons. He also played 20 times for the Barbarians, including the famous game against the All Blacks in January 1973. In that game he was the catalyst for the Gareth Edward's try early in the game that connoisseurs of the game still regard as the finest ever scored. Gathering a bobbling ball that had been kicked high over his head and into his own 22, Phil beat four players with his trade mark sidestep before passing to John (JPR) Williams to launch the move.
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