Welsh rugby great Phil Bennett has died
Ex-Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half Phil Bennett has died at the age of 73, his former club Scarlets have announced.
Bennett, affectionately known as ‘Benny’, played 413 times for Llanelli RFC from making his debut as an 18-year-old to his final appearance in 1981, captaining the side for six years of his 15-year spell.
Regarded as one of Wales’ greatest ever players, he won 29 caps for his country between 1969 and 1978, winning two Five Nations Grand Slams and three Triple Crowns.
Bennett played club rugby for 16 seasons at Llanelli RFC.
He also played 20 times for the Barbarians, including the famous game against the All Blacks in January 1973.
In that game he was the catalyst for the Gareth Edwards’ try early in the game that is still regarded as one of the finest ever scored.
He had been battling illness for sometime.
The Scarlets this evening issued a statement, which read: “It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of club legend, former captain and Scarlets President Phil Bennett.
“Phil passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday evening surrounded by his close family.”
Paying tribute to Bennett on their website, the Scarlets said in a statement: “A player with stardust in his boots, he possessed a sidestep that would mesmerise defenders — his jinking run to spark ‘the greatest try ever scored’ for the Barbarians against New Zealand in Cardiff in 1973 will live long in rugby folklore.”
The statement went on to quote Bennett’s former club captain and Wales and Lions team-mate Delme Thomas, who said: “He was the best fly-half I have ever seen on a rugby field.”
It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of club legend, former captain and Scarlets President Phil Bennett.
Phil passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday evening surrounded by his close family. pic.twitter.com/FQpacfONfD
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) June 12, 2022
Scarlets executive chairman Simon Muderack said: “As a club, region and community, we are devastated by this news.”
Reflecting on Bennett’s key role in Llanelli dominating the domestic scene, including four Welsh Cup triumphs in the 1970s, he continued: “Wherever the Scarlets travel around the world, people mention the name Phil Bennett.
“He was an icon of our sport, a rugby superstar, but someone who always remembered his roots. There was no finer ambassador of Scarlets Rugby than Phil, a player respected across the rugby world, both during his career and long after he finished playing.
“Phil was a hero and friend to so many people, not only in Llanelli and West Wales, but throughout the game and I am sure a lot of Scarlets supporters will have their own particular stories of the times they met and chatted to ‘Benny’.
“He loved the club and epitomised the values we hold true — humility and pride in our community.
“On behalf of everyone at the Scarlets, we send our heartfelt condolences to Pat, Steven, James and all of Phil’s family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”
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