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Gareth Edwards

Gareth Edwards

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Facts
NationWales
BornGwaun-cae-Gurwen, 12th July 1947
PositionScrum Half
Internationals53 caps between 1967 and 1978
InductedMarch 23 2002

It took place on a one-time cabbage patch and there was no Miss Marple, Hercule Poirot or Sherlock Holmes to solve this particular 30-year-old whodunit, merely the confession of the guilty party.

It was at Twickenham in 1970, England were leading Wales and half-time was just seconds away. A ruck formed and a tide of red shirts flowed over and through everything and everybody who was in their way, including the French referee Robert Calmet.

When it was over and play had moved on, M. Calmet remained on the ground clutching a broken left leg. Subsequent records of the game, in respected books and annuals, merely mention that M. Calmet had been in a collision with an unnamed player.

Today that player’s identity can be revealed. It was Wales captain, Gareth Edwards. “It was a memorable match but for the wrong reasons,” recalls Edwards, who has recently been inducted to Twickenham’s Wall of Fame, joining a host of other rugby legends from all over the world.

“I made a break and I ran over the referee. I remember turning around afterwards and seeing him on the ground with what turned out to be a broken leg and Johnny Johnson came on as his replacement.

“Then I got injured midway through the second half and had to go off. My replacement was Chico Hopkins, from Maesteg RFC, and he immediately set up JPR Williams for a try before scoring the fourth himself, then setting up Barry John for the drop goal which ensured victory.”

England’s rugby headquarters holds other great memories for Edwards. “On my very first appearance there, and my fourth for Wales, two years earlier, I scored my first international try in the 11 – 11 draw.”

There then followed a stream of unforgettable visits until, a decade after that first try, came one of the most moving moments of Edwards’ distinguished career. “It was February 1978 and I was winning my 50th cap. The captain, Phil Bennett, asked me to lead the team out. “As I emerged from the tunnel, I was greeted by cheers and applause from the whole crowd, English and Welsh fans alike. It was very emotional. I ran onto the pitch, then turned, as I always did, looking for a team-mate to whom I could pass the ball, but of course there was no one there, Ray Gravell was holding them all back in the tunnel to let me enjoy those few special moments.

“But it was not over, because later, at the post match dinner, I was presented with a rose bowl by the RFU. They had had fifty made to mark their centenary and I was presented with No 50. It was a most generous and thoughtful gift.” Now Edwards has received a further, and most deserving award from the RFU.

Article by Dai Llewellyn

 

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