Sir Gareth Edwards' Barbarians try: The rugby score for the ages

By Gareth GriffithsBBC Sport Wales

Every major sport has iconic moments of greatness to draw its followers back again and again.

In rugby union, Sir Gareth Edwards' awe-inspiring score for the Barbarians against New Zealand in January, 1973 is surely one of them.

It was a spectacular game in its own right with Baa-baas, coached by Carwyn James, triumphing 23-11 against the All Blacks.

The sensational try in the opening exchanges has lived long in the memory and stood the test of time as seven men combined to create it.

BBC Sport Wales showed the whole game again on Saturday, 4 July and we caught up with some of the key personnel involved who contributed to the momentous moment.

Brilliant Bennett

The magical move was started by Wales fly-half Phil Bennett who tracked back towards his own line to collect a New Zealand kick.

Bennett appeared to be boxed in and most would have expected the ball to be kicked into touch, but the man himself had other ideas.

What followed was a sequence of sizzling side-steps that bamboozled the All Black defenders bearing down on him.

"As the ball was rolling away I knew they would be chasing me because this was the All Blacks," said Bennett.

"I thought when I picked the ball up I would have one second to see what was on and New Zealand flanker Alistair Scown was coming 100mph down at me!

"I sidestepped him, but did not realise Ian Kirkpatrick and a few other All Blacks were coming behind him so luckily I was able to beat them also."

Bennett fed Wales full-back JPR Williams, who was the victim of a high tackle from New Zealand wing Bryan Williams.

"JPR and I had received Welsh schoolboys caps when we were 14 or 15 for Wales and he seemed as if knew my game back to front," explained Bennett.

"He had come back to support so I threw him a long lovely pass and he was challenged by Bryan Williams at the same time.

"Now Bryan was a marvellous wing, but he took JPR head height and almost knocked his head off and might have been sent off in the modern game.

"JPR was a tough man and managed to get the ball away."

Dawes dummy

That pass was to the only non Welsh member of the move, England hooker John Pullin, who in turn fed 1971 British and Lions Test winning series captain John Dawes.

The Barbarians skipper for the day, who this week celebrated his 80th birthday, sliced through with what Morgan described as a great dummy.

"If Cliff Morgan says it was a dummy, it was a dummy." said Dawes.

"I was intending to put John Bevan (wing) away because he was outside me, but that avenue became blocked,

"It was one of those things, John was running up outside me but I could see he was covered, so the ball had to go back inside me. Luckily Tommy David was there inside me, just like a good flanker should be."

That back-rower, a traditional uncapped player in the Barbarians line-up, took that inside pass from Dawes. He was not supposed to be there.

"Mervyn Davies dropped out of the game in the morning with flu and all of a sudden I was in the biggest game of my life," said David.

"The rest is history and I was involved in this move as John Dawes passed to me and I moved the ball onto to Derek Quinnell."

David's fellow back-rower Derek Quinnell took on the move with some nifty hands.

"Tommy David, who had a great game that day, gave me a pass that I had to scoop up off my ankles!" recalled Quinnell.

"Fortunately it stuck, and then I passed the ball to Gareth Edwards as I was stumbling. Then all Gareth had to do was run about 60 yards and score in the left-hand corner!"

There have been suggestions that try-scoring pass to the charging Edwards was forward.

While the try might have been disallowed in the modern game if an eagle eyed television match official had picked up on it, what will not be denied was the brilliant finish by the Lions scrum-half who had called for the pass in Welsh.

"I just think he was was surprised," said Edwards.

"I was coming up at a rate of knots and as scrum-half I was just thinking I should get up there if the ball goes to ground.

"Derek got the ball and I just shouted to him in Welsh and he was one of the few guys in that team who understood Welsh."

That try-scoring scenario was far from Edwards mind a few seconds earlier.

"The game had been so frantic and I was out of breath so when I saw the ball going long initially with Phil scurrying back I was expecting him to kick it to touch," said Edwards.

"When the move started, nobody, bar nobody, myself included, was thinking about a try. We have celebrated this try all around the world and I always have to say thanks Phil!"

The final description fittingly goes to legendary commentator, the late Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half Cliff Morgan, who captured the moment perfectly.

"Oh, that fellow Edwards. If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, no-one would have believed it. That really was something."

It really was.

Scrum V classic: Barbarians v New Zealand 1973, Saturday 4 July, BBC One Wales 17:00 and later on demand.

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