Gareth Edwards

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Sir Gareth Edwards
Gareth Edwards.jpg
Edwards in 2009
Birth nameGareth Owen Edwards
Date of birth (1947-07-12) 12 July 1947 (age 71)
Place of birth Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Wales
School Millfield
UniversityCardiff College of Education
Rugby union career
Position(s) Scrum-half
Senior career
1966–1978 Cardiff RFC 195 (426)
National team(s)
British Lions

Sir Gareth Owen Edwards, CBE (born 12 July 1947) is a Welsh former rugby union player who played scrum-half and has been described by the BBC as "arguably the greatest player ever to don a Welsh jersey". [1]

Order of the British Empire British order of chivalry

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry, rewarding contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service outside the civil service. It was established on 4 June 1917 by King George V and comprises five classes across both civil and military divisions, the most senior two of which make the recipient either a knight if male or dame if female. There is also the related British Empire Medal, whose recipients are affiliated with, but not members of, the order.

Welsh people nation and ethnic group native to Wales

The Welsh are a Celtic nation and ethnic group native to, or otherwise associated with, Wales, Welsh culture, Welsh history and the Welsh language. Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom, and the majority of people living in Wales are British citizens.

Rugby union Team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts at each end.


In 2003, in a poll of international rugby players conducted by Rugby World magazine, Edwards was declared the greatest player of all time. In 2007, former England captain Will Carling published his list of the '50 Greatest Rugby players' in The Daily Telegraph , and ranked Edwards the greatest player ever, stating; "He was a supreme athlete with supreme skills, the complete package. He played in the 1970s, but, if he played now, he would still be the best. He was outstanding at running, passing, kicking and reading the game. He sits astride the whole of rugby as the ultimate athlete on the pitch". [2]

Rugby World is a monthly rugby union magazine running since October 1960. It is published monthly by TI Media and edited by Owain Jones who took over from long standing editor Paul Morgan in January 2012. Paul Morgan was long considered a leader in the industry, the magazine is the world's top-selling rugby magazine and has benefited from a worldwide rise in interest in rugby following the 2003 Rugby Union World Cup.

England national rugby union team sportsteam in rugby union

The England national rugby union team competes in the annual Six Nations Championship with France, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, and Wales. They have won this championship on a total of 28 occasions, 13 times winning the Grand Slam and 25 times winning the Triple Crown, making them the most successful outright winners in the tournament's history. They are ranked fourth in the world by the International Rugby Board as of 18 March 2019. England are to date the only team from the northern hemisphere to win the Rugby World Cup, when they won the tournament back in 2003. They were also runners-up in 1991 and 2007.

William David Charles Carling, is an English former rugby union player. He played for Rosslyn Park, Harlequins and England, winning 72 caps from 1988 to 1996, and captaining England 59 times.

Edwards was prominent in the Welsh national team that was to the fore in European rugby in the '60s and '70s. He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams including Alun Wyn Jones, Ryan Jones, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Gerald Davies and J. P. R. Williams. [3]

Wales national rugby union team Nation rugby team from Wales

The Wales national rugby union team competes annually in the Six Nations Championship with England, France, Ireland, Italy and Scotland. Wales have won the Six Nations and its predecessors 27 times outright. Wales' most recent championship and Grand Slam victory came in 2019.

In rugby union, a Grand Slam occurs when one team in the Six Nations Championship manages to beat all the others during one year's competition. This has been achieved 39 times in total, for the first time by Wales in 1908, and most recently by Wales in 2019. The team to have won the most Grand Slams is England with 13.

Alun Wyn Jones Welsh rugby union player

Alun Wyn Jones is a Welsh rugby union player. He is the current captain of the Wales national team, and the former captain of the Ospreys in the Pro14. He is the world's most-capped lock forward and Wales' joint most capped player alongside Gethin Jenkins. He has also won nine caps for the British & Irish Lions. He is one of a small group of Welsh players to have won three Grand Slams including Ryan Jones, Adam Jones, Gethin Jenkins, Gerald Davies, Gareth Edwards and J. P. R. Williams. He was named as the best player of the 2019 Six Nations Championship.

In the 2007 New Year Honours, Edwards became a CBE for services to sport. [4] He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2015, for services to sport and for charitable services. [5]

The New Year Honours 2007 were appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms to various orders and honours to recognise and reward good works by citizens of those countries. The New Year Honours are awarded as part of the New Year celebrations at the start of January.

The 2015 Queen's Birthday Honours are appointments by some of the 16 Commonwealth realms of Queen Elizabeth II to various orders and honours to reward and highlight good works by citizens of those countries. The Birthday Honours are awarded as part of the Queen's Official Birthday celebrations during the month of June. The Queen's Birthday Honours were announced on 1 June 2015 in New Zealand, on 8 June in Australia, and on 12 June in the United Kingdom, in Grenada, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia and Belize.

Early life

Edwards was born a miner's son in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, Wales. He attended Pontardawe Technical School for Boys (now Cwmtawe Community School), where he was taken under the wing of sports teacher Bill Samuels.

Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen village in Wales

Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen is a village and community in the borough of Neath Port Talbot, South West Wales. Historically a part of Glamorgan, Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen is a parish made up of the electoral wards of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen and Lower Brynamman.

Cwmtawe Community School Formerly known as Pontardawe Technical School and Cwmtawe Comprehensive School, is a modern English-medium education comprehensive school in Pontardawe, South Wales.

He won a scholarship to the elite Millfield Public School in Somerset. Apart from rugby, Edwards showed promise in a wide range of sports, playing for West Wales Youth football team, and signing for Swansea Town at the age of 16. He also showed prowess in gymnastics and athletics. [6]

Millfield is a co-educational independent school for pupils aged 13–18 years based in Street, Somerset, England. It was founded in 1935.

Somerset County of England

Somerset is a county in South West England which borders Gloucestershire and Bristol to the north, Wiltshire to the east, Dorset to the south-east and Devon to the south-west. It is bounded to the north and west by the Severn Estuary and the Bristol Channel, its coastline facing southeastern Wales. Its traditional border with Gloucestershire is the River Avon. Somerset's county town is Taunton.

The West Wales Football Association(WWFA) is the governing body of association football in west Wales and is affiliated to the Football Association of Wales.

Playing career


Image of Edwards on a wall at Cardiff Arms Park, 2007 Painting at Cardiff Arms Park 2008.jpg
Image of Edwards on a wall at Cardiff Arms Park, 2007

Edwards won his first international cap for Wales on 1 April 1967 at the age of 19 against France in Paris. [7] Wales lost 20–14 to eventual championship winners France. [8] Between 1967 and 1978 Edwards won 53 caps for Wales, including 13 as captain. All his caps were won in succession; he never had a dip in form or an injury that would allow anybody else to take his place. He scored twenty tries in internationals.

Edwards is Wales's youngest ever captain, first taking the captaincy at the age of 20 in February 1968 against Scotland – a game which the Welsh side won 5–0. [9] Edwards was very fortunate in playing with two of the best outside halves the game has ever seen: Barry John and Phil Bennett. In the early part of his career, Edwards and his club team mate Barry John appeared inseparable, always knowing what the other was doing. During his era the Welsh side dominated the Five Nations Championship, winning the title seven times, including three grand slams. In 1969, Edwards was named Player of the Year in Wales.

In 1974 Edwards was named BBC Wales Sports Personality of the year. He followed up this success by receiving an MBE in 1975.

He was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1976 when he was surprised by Eamonn Andrews. [10]

Edwards's long successful international career came to an end on 18 March 1978 in the same way as he had started his career – against France in the Five Nations Championship. However, unlike on his debut, Edwards celebrated with a 16–7 winning finish in front of a home crowd at the Arms Park in Cardiff. Wales also sealed the Grand Slam and a third consecutive Triple Crown – a record, given that no team had ever won it more than twice in a row. [11] To crown his achievements he was named Rothmans Player of the Year 1978.

British and Irish Lions

Edwards also played ten times for the British and Irish Lions, playing for the 1971 Lions team that was the only such team to win a series in New Zealand, and for the unbeaten 1974 side in South Africa.

Cardiff RFC

He made his debut for Cardiff RFC against Coventry on 17 September 1966 and he played 12 seasons for Cardiff, scoring 69 tries in 195 games.


Edwards also played for Cardiff College, Wales Secondary Schools, East Wales, Wales, Barbarians, Wolfhounds, Irish President XV, World XV in South Africa in 1977, the combined England and Wales against Scotland and Ireland at the RFU centenary in 1971, first Wales Sevens team SRU centenary in 1973, and the RAF (though not in the Services) on tour in Cyprus 1972. [6]

That Try

Edwards' try for the Barbarians against the All Blacks in 1973 at Cardiff Arms Park, often referred to simply as 'that try', is regarded as the greatest try ever. The move starts with a deep kick from the New Zealand winger. The ball dropped towards Phil Bennett near to his goal line. Bennett sidestepped and evaded three tackles, in turn passing the ball to JPR Williams. It next passed through four pairs of hands (Pullin, Dawes, David and Quinnell) before Edwards, slipping between two teammates and seemingly intercepting the last pass, finished with a diving try in the left-hand corner.

In a UK poll conducted by Channel 4 in 2002 British rugby supporters voted Edwards's historic try for the Barbarians No. 20 in the list of the 100 Greatest Sporting Moments. [12]

Post-playing career

The sculpture of Gareth Edwards in St David's Centre Sculpture of rugby union player Gareth Edwards.jpg
The sculpture of Gareth Edwards in St David's Centre

When he wrote his autobiography he was branded a "professional" and was temporarily prevented from coaching or being involved in any way with the sport of rugby union.

From 1978 until 1982 Edwards was a team captain on the TV quiz show A Question of Sport along with Liverpool and England footballer Emlyn Hughes. [13]

In 1997, Edwards was one of the first fifteen former players inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame along with (among others) former playing partners Barry John and JPR Williams. [14] He is also the subject of a plaque in the Rugby Pathway of Fame in the town of Rugby, Warwickshire, which is credited as the home of the game.

On 21 November 2001, Edwards was voted the "Greatest Welsh Player of all time" at a rugby dinner held at the Cardiff International Arena by the 'Welsh Rugby Former International Players' Association' and First Press Events company. Voting took place via the Western Mail, South Wales Echo, Wales on Sunday and the nine Celtic Press titles. The public votes were then sifted by a team of experts and a 'crowd' of almost 1,000 packed into the CIA to discover who were the 'Greatest'. [15]

In a poll of international rugby players conducted in 2003 by Rugby World magazine, Edwards was declared the greatest player of all time. Surprisingly, Edwards has admitted that All Black scrum-half Sid Going most likely got the better of him over their seven encounters, "As I say, he was the best I played against and, yes, he probably had the edge on me in the games we played". Edwards does however think that the pack Going was playing behind may have helped, "...I wouldn't have minded playing with the back row the All Blacks had...then Sid might not have come out on top". [16] He now commentates on the game for the BBC and S4C, commentating for the latter in Welsh, his mother tongue, and he is one of several players to have appeared in the S4C series Rygbi a Mwy. [17] He is also a director at the Cardiff Blues region, director of Mercedes dealership Euro Commercials Ltd. and President of Cardiff Institute for the Blind. [6] A sculpture of Gareth Edwards stands in the St David's Centre, Cardiff.

In 1990 he set a British angling record when he landed a pike weighing 45 lb 6oz at Llandegfedd Reservoir near Pontypool. Edwards held the record for two years. He also enjoys shooting game-birds. [18] Edwards is patron of The Richard Hunt Foundation [19] and in 2010 he was named a Patron of the Jaguar Academy of Sport. [20]

In August 2014, Edwards was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue. [21]

See also

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  3. Three Grand Slams
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