Phil Bennett used to be described as ‘a super gentleman and a super rugby participant’ as giants of the game from Wales and past united in tribute to him at a remembrance provider in Llanelli.
Bennett, who died previous this month after a protracted sickness on the age of 73, captained Wales and the British and Irish Lions.
A genial fly-half, whose staggering side-stepping skill introduced the dance ground to the rugby discipline, additionally performed greater than 400 instances for Llanelli RFC.
A remembrance provider used to be held in Llanelli for Phil Bennett, who died on the age of 73
Thousands of enthusiasts attended the provider for the ex-Wales and British and Irish lions captain
He received 29 Wales caps between 1969 and 1978, profitable two Five Nations Grand Slams and 3 Triple Crowns, skippered the Lions to New Zealand in 1977 and used to be a part of the Lions’ Test series-winning excursion of South Africa 3 years previous.
He additionally began the transfer, taking part in for the Barbarians in opposition to New Zealand in 1973, that delivered a length-of-the-field rating and is incessantly described as rugby union’s biggest attempt.
Barely 3 miles from the place Bennett helped Llanelli famously beat New Zealand 9-3 at Stradey Park 50 years in the past, circle of relatives, pals, avid gamers previous and provide, coaches and rugby supporters accumulated at Parc y Scarlets to honour his legacy.
Delme Thomas, who performed for Wales from 1966-1974 gave a eulogy to his former team-mate
Sir Gareth Edwards used to be amongst the ones in attendance on the remembrance provider in Llanelli
Eulogies got by way of Delme Thomas – ex-Wales skipper, three-time Lions vacationer and captain when Llanelli toppled the All Blacks – and journalist Graham Thomas, who ghosted greater than 1,000 nationwide newspaper columns with Bennett throughout a 25-year affiliation.
The funeral cortege arrived to the accompaniment of Rod Stewart’s ‘Sailing’ with a star-studded, 40-strong guard of honour reflecting Bennett’s stellar profession, whilst floral tributes integrated one merely spelt out as ‘Benny,’ one from the Lions and every other designed because the determine 10 as Bennett’s coffin used to be situated at the midway line.
Members of the respected 1972 Scarlets workforce paying their respects integrated Bennett’s half-back spouse in opposition to New Zealand Chico Hopkins, try-scorer Roy Bergiers, prop Barry Llewellyn and flanker Tommy David.
They have been joined by way of Bennett’s former Wales team-mates Sir Gareth Edwards and Gerald Davies, the Welsh Rugby Union president, ex-Wales and Llanelli captain Ieuan Evans, plus former Lions ahead and 1997 Lions excursion supervisor Fran Cotton.
And present Scarlets squad representatives featured the likes of Wales internationals Jonathan Davies, Ken Owens, Scott Williams and Leigh Halfpenny, along with head trainer Dwayne Peel.
Members of the general public – old and young, many dressed in Wales and Scarlets shirts – started arriving greater than an hour prior to the provider, with highlights of Bennett’s best moments, together with a lot of his impressive tries, being proven at the stadium’s giant display screen.
There used to be a filmed tribute from New Zealand’s 1972 captain Ian Fitzpatrick, who mentioned: ‘With his skill, he used to be one thing else. He had the talents and skill to provide greatness. We have been massively saddened to listen to of his passing.’
Like Fitzpatrick, Delme Thomas spoke from the guts, prior to pausing at Bennett’s coffin, paying a last transferring tribute and receiving a status ovation as he made his as far back as the South Stand.
‘It may be very laborious to face right here and give an explanation for how I think about this little guy,’ Thomas, 79, mentioned. ‘What are you able to say in regards to the biggest participant I’ve ever observed play the sport?
Fran Cotton used to be amongst those that attended the remembrance provider for Bennett
Robert Jones used to be amongst those that attended the remembrance provider for Bennett
Brynmor Williams additionally attended the provider as rugby stars paid their respects to Bennett
‘That’s a large factor to mention as a result of I’ve performed with some nice avid gamers – numerous them are sat within the stands as of late – however Phil used to be one thing particular, a super gentleman and a super rugby participant.
‘Our outside-half in 1971 used to be the good Barry John. He used to be this sort of nice participant that they known as him ‘King John’.
‘When he got here again after the Lions excursion in 1971 he dropped a bombshell and introduced his retirement. Most other folks concept that used to be the top of Welsh rugby, however up stepped the boy from Felinfoel (Bennett), and he by no means appeared again.
‘Who can put out of your mind that day at Stradey Park in 1972. I used to be fortunate sufficient to play in that recreation, and from that day ahead Phil stamped his authority on Welsh rugby. I had by no means observed a efficiency love it. After that day, everybody knew who Phil Bennett used to be.
‘An attractive good friend, ‘Benny’, I’m sorry, boy, to be status right here in entrance of you.
‘I refuse to mention good-bye. As a Christian, I am hoping we will be able to meet once more. God bless you.’
Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer (Bread of Heaven) and the Welsh people tune Yma O Hyd gained rousing renditions, prior to the cortege left to John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’.
The remembrance provider used to be adopted by way of a funeral provider at Holy Trinity Church in within reach Felinfoel, Bennett’s house village the place a statue used to be unveiled in his honour simply two months in the past.
Bennett is survived by way of his spouse Pat and sons Steven and James.