Sir Gareth Edwards, knighted in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2015 for services to sport and charity, was arguably the greatest scrum-half in the history of rugby union. Born on July 12, 1947, in the former mining village of Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, near Ammanford, in South West Wales, Edwards made his international debut, at the age of 19, in a Five Nations Championship match against France at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir, near Paris in 1967. The following season, at the age of 20, he became the youngest ever captain of the Welsh national team, against Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park in the same competition.
All told, as arguably the best player in a back division that included John Peter Rhys ‘JPR’ Williams, Gerald Davies, Phil Bennett and Barry John, Edwards would win 53 consecutive caps for Wales. Remarkably, for a scrum-half, he scored twenty tries for Wales in Test matches. He also won ten caps for the British Lions, notably in New Zealand in 1971, when they lost only one game and won a Test series against New Zealand and South Africa in 1974, when they were undefeated for the entire tour.
Edwards also scored what has been described as the ‘greatest try ever’ when playing for the Barbarians against New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park in January, 1973. In the first few minutes of the match, Barbarians’ fly-half Phil Bennett retrieved a kick from New Zealand winger Bryan Williams inside his own 22-metre line, sidestepped three opponents and passed to full-back JPR Williams. Twenty-five seconds later, Edwards capped a sensational handling move by diving over in the corner, leading commentator Cliff Morgan to exclaim, ‘A dramatic start! What a score!’