Full name Gareth Owen Edwards
Born July 12, 1947, Glanaman
Current age 69 years 152 days
Major teams British and Irish Lions, Presidents XV, World XV, Wales, Wales XV
|British and Irish Lions||1968-1974||10||10||0||3||0||0||0||1||0||5||2||3||65.00|
|Test debut||France v Wales at Colombes, Apr 1, 1967 match details|
|Last Test||Wales v France at Cardiff, Mar 18, 1978 match details|
|Test Statsguru||Main menu | Career summary | Match list | Most points | Most tries | Tournament list|
Two countries more than any others are intrinsically linked with the sport of rugby union. One is New Zealand and the other is Wales. And in the history of Welsh rugby, one player more than any other can be regarded as the greatest exponent of the game that proud nation has produced.
Edwards' sporting prowess was evident from an early age, as he won a scholarship to Millfield School in Somerset in England. Renowned for its sporting credentials, the school also nurtured the rugby talents of JPR Williams, as well Matt Perry, Olly Morgan and Anthony Allen in more recent times. After school he attended Cardiff College of Education, and played his club rugby for Cardiff.
Edwards played at scrum-half and his career coincided with the golden age of Welsh rugby. He possessed the perfect body shape and size for a No.9, and combined both pace and strength to devastating effect. Add in near-perfect kicking, passing and defensive games, as well as a keen eye for the try line, and you can see why Edwards invariably tops the polls in any vote for the greatest player of all time.
Edwards played for his country on 53 occasions between 1967-1978, scoring 88 points with 20 tries in the process. What is remarkable is that Edwards is one of that rare breed who played every one of his international matches consecutively - an incredible feat. Edwards also captained his country 13 times.
He played his first game for Wales aged 19 in 1967 against France at the Parc des Princes in Paris. Wales lost that match 20-14, but consistent success was just around the corner. Edwards is the youngest player to have captained Wales, a record he set in 1968 against Scotland, when he was just 20 years old.
Wales' domination of the Five Nations was complete during Edwards's career, when he helped them to win the title seven times, with three Grand Slam seasons. Edwards finished his career against France in Cardiff in 1978, and this time they won, 16-7.
Edwards played in Welsh teams full of stars, most relevantly Barry John and Phil Bennett at fly-half, and Mervyn Davies at No.8. With such talent close by on the pitch, you might think that Edwards led a charmed life, but far from it. The scrum-half outshone these luminaries, and was more often than not the best player in a brilliant team.
In addition to his 53 Wales caps he made 10 appearances for the British & Irish Lions, featuring on the 1968, 1971 and 1974 tours. The second tour, to New Zealand, is still the only victorious Lions tour to the Land of the Long White Cloud; while the third, to South Africa in 1974, was the greatest ever Lions jaunt, in which the tourists played 22 matches and remained unbeaten throughout. Edwards played in all eight Test matches on these two tours, winning five, drawing two and losing one.
Edwards was one of the first superstars of what was a staunchly amateur sport. As a result, Edwards found himself in hot water after his autobiography was published, which saw him considered a 'professional', and he was banned for a time.
Off the pitch, Edwards is an accomplished commentator and pundit, contributing to BBC and S4C broadcasts, performs an ambassadorial role for the Lions, and is a director at the Cardiff Blues. In the 2007 New Years Honours List, Edwards was made a CBE for services to sport.
As befitting his status as one of Rugby Union's greatest ever players, if not the greatest, Edwards also scored what is regarded as the greatest try of all time, in the greatest game of all time, playing in the famous black and white hoops of the Barbarians.
The Baa-Baas met the touring All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in 1973 in a game which the scratch side won 11-23. It was an incredible spectacle, set-up by Edwards' try in the opening minutes. Phil Bennett received the ball deep in his own half, and set off, beating three players with his slashing side step, before JPR Williams took it on. It then went through four or five pairs of hands before Edwards popped up wide of the left. He still had 30 yards to go, but he scorched down the touchline, finishing with a full-length dive in the corner. A stunning try scored by a player that truly could do anything on the rugby pitch.