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RIP Phil Bennett :(

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Post by The Oracle Mon 13 Jun 2022, 10:29 am

Phil Bennett has sadly passed away after a recent illness. One of my favourite ever players. Just personified rugby for me. Seemed to be a quiet, unassuming guy who let his rugby do the talking. Rarely seemed to celebrate a try even when he scored some of the best the world has ever seen! Played rugby the way I like it. I know the Welsh harp back to he 70s a lot, but he (and many of his teammates) were so good to watch.

A nice write up and video here on the BBC:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-union/59951325

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Post by The Oracle Mon 13 Jun 2022, 10:32 am

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Post by BigGee Mon 13 Jun 2022, 11:55 am

Watching the BaaBaas game at 9 years old, probably what got me into rugby in the first place.

You can watch it and many other clips of Bennett on the ball, with all the time in the world, as many times as you like and never tire of them.

My own favourite was the try he scored against Scotland at Murrayfield to win wales the GS that year. Even at that age and wanting Scotland to win, you could not take away from the breath taking brilliance of it.

RIP Phil Bennett - one of the all time greats.

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Post by dummy_half Mon 13 Jun 2022, 12:17 pm

Very sad news.

Brings back memories of watching Rugby Special as a kid with my Dad, or of the 5 nations when Wales were the dominant side. Fantastic player, and it makes you wonder if the game has gone the right way when you consider he was all of 5 foot 7 and 11 stone.

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Post by RiscaGame Mon 13 Jun 2022, 1:29 pm

Very sad news indeed. The tributes paid to him everywhere, show how respected he was (outside of Wales too). Phil Bennett retired before I was born, but he is certainly one of a few players of that era, that you became aware of very quickly growing up. I have watched countless clips of his over the years.


Last edited by RiscaGame on Mon 13 Jun 2022, 3:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by LordDowlais Mon 13 Jun 2022, 3:23 pm

The only player that has come anywhere near his talent for running and sidestepping is little Shane Williams.

Phil Bennett was one of the most talented players I have ever seen. RIP.

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Post by majesticimperialman Mon 13 Jun 2022, 5:52 pm

RIP. Phill Bennet
The best 10 that ever played for Wales.

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Post by doctor_grey Mon 13 Jun 2022, 10:31 pm

Legend.

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Post by BigGee Tue 14 Jun 2022, 8:36 am

Mark Palmer, in The Times, interviewing Andy Irvine, who toured with PB on the 74 and 77 Lions tours, about the man and his memories.




The late, great Phil Bennett, who died on Sunday aged 73, had a profound influence on both the teams and rugby culture of Llanelli, Wales, the British & Irish Lions and the Barbarians.

We should really add Scotland to that list as, in the words of Andy Irvine, “Phil Bennett was responsible for a lot of the Scotland moves in the late 70s and early 80s. We learnt from him and in some respects we copied him. When John Rutherford came along, a lot of that was based on Phil Bennett. John refined it and changed it a wee bit, but the groundwork was really set up by Phil.”

Irvine, arguably Scotland’s finest ever player, is well placed to define greatness and he also saw Bennett from all sides. As the brilliantly intuitive team-mate, on successive Lions tours, most notably when the man from Felinfoel tore the Springboks limb from limb in 1974.

As the impossible to contain opponent, capable of embarrassing even the best at a moment’s notice. As the reluctant captain, thrust into the role in New Zealand in 1977 on a trip which, after the radiant glory of South Africa, became a damp squib in all respects. As the loyal, understated but “wickedly funny” friend who was always thinking of others even as his own health began to fail.

Irvine, the 70-year-old former full back, is in no doubt about the quantity and quality of what “wee Benny” gave him. “He had more influence on my own game than any other single player; I just learned so much from him. A huge amount. He was always bringing in new things. I owe him a debt of gratitude. I was very lucky to play behind first Phil Bennett and then John Rutherford.


“He was a great guy off the field as well; quiet and unassuming but with a wicked sense of humour. Hugely popular. What a fantastic entertainer. If you look at some of the tries he scored or set up for others, he absolutely was a wee bit of a genius. It’s unbelievable that he coincided for part of his time with Barry John. I never played with Barry John, but if he was as good as Phil Bennett, he must have been some player.”

Irvine went up against Wales in his first Murrayfield Five Nations game, a 10-9 win in February 1973. The full Welsh symphony orchestra was in town — Gareth Edwards, Gerald Davies, JPR Williams — with Bennett the ever-willing conductor.

“Wales in those days had JPR, Phil Bennett, Gerald Davies: three of the best players of all time. Throw in Gareth Edwards and JJ Williams and you were looking at some backline!

“It wasn’t just the running, though: Phil Bennett was a fantastic tactical kicker. At full back your main opponent is the opposition fly half. He’s putting the ball into the corners or sticking it up in the air or doing the wee chip over. Phil Bennett was a fantastic footballer, a real tough cookie to play against.

“We used to play a lot of soccer on the Lions tours just as a wee bit of downtime and he was absolutely brilliant. Had he not played rugby, he could well have had a career as a soccer player. He was a bit like Jimmy Johnstone, a tiny wee chap, but [with] fantastic footwork and very, very quick. Over the first 20 yards, there was nobody that could live with Benny. You might catch him over 40 or 50 yards but in the first 20, his acceleration was immense.”

Bennett played for the Swansea Town FC youth teams and was invited for trials at both West Ham and Celtic before committing to the oval ball.

That 1977 tour (when the Lions lost the Test series 3-1) was tough for all concerned. Mervyn Davies would surely have captained had it not been for the brain haemorrhage that ended his career shortly after the Welsh Grand Slam the previous year. Coach John Dawes and manager Dod Burrell were not naturally gregarious and Bennett cut a troubled figure in the eyes of team-mates. “Great guy, absolutely brilliant player who smiled his way all through South Africa. But in 1977 you felt the weight of responsibility was on him,” Irvine said. “He was never the same. Always under pressure.


“It was a difficult tour in the sense that the weather was absolutely dire. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. On the hard grounds in South Africa, nobody could get near Benny, he literally was that good. That was all neutralised in New Zealand because when you’re playing on a mudbath, and most of the pitches there were, you can’t sidestep. It’s then a power game, you just smash through people.


“There were one or two pitches that were half decent and we did very well. All the Test grounds were cricket grounds. They had a 22m square right in the centre. There’s a bevel on them, a slope to drain the water; 10 yards from the halfway line, the water accumulates. There was a band of mud five metres wide and that mud really annulled Benny’s side-stepping ability. Then you’re very vulnerable to the wing forwards. If that had been South Africa again, Benny could have done the same thing, because he still had his pace.”

In more recent years, Irvine and Bennett would catch up in Cardiff when Scotland were in town, and his absence was keenly felt in Belfast last week when the 1974 Lions gathered for Willie John McBride’s Covid-delayed 80th birthday celebrations.

“We knew it wasn’t looking good for him, but nobody had any idea it would be so imminent,” Irvine said. “He will be sorely, sorely missed.”

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