One of the greatest ever to pull on a red shirt, Phil Bennett has sadly passed away at the age of 73 at his home on Sunday evening.
Such sad news from Llanelli this evening with the passing of Phil Bennett, a Welsh rugby legend in every sense and true gentleman. Our deepest condolences to Phil’s wife Pat, their family and his many, many friends. Rest in peace Benny. https://t.co/j7MZmyY653
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) June 12, 2022
Bennett was a key figure in the dazzling Welsh side of the 1970s, helping them to 2 Five Nations Grand Slams. It was in his final match for Wales in 1978 that he captained the side to victory over France, in what would give them the clean sweep in that year’s tournament.
The brilliant fly-half turned out 29 times for his national side, 8 times for the British and Irish Lions, and an incredible 20 times for the Barbarians.
It was while playing for the Barbarians that Bennett’s name became synonymous with ‘that try’ in 1973. Bennett started off what has become known as the single greatest try of all time. With footwork that would misdirect even the most organised of defences, and the vision to fling the ball out wide, it was Bennett’s initiative that ended up allowing Gareth Edwards to fly over in the corner at the other end in a moment that is still talked about almost 50 years later.
Following on from his playing days Bennett received an OBE from the Queen in 1979. From then he became a very well-respected pundit for BBC Wales, and in 2005 was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame.
Only recently in April 2022, Bennett was honoured with a statue at his beloved local amateur rugby club, Felinfoel RFC.
Tributes have come out thick and fast for the legendary fly-half, Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack had the following to say:
“We are devastated by this news. 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.”
Phil Bennett has died at the age of 73
He is regarded as one of the greatest players to wear the number 10 shirt for Wales and the Lions pic.twitter.com/47qSk83TRC
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) June 12, 2022
A true gentleman of the game, he will always be remembered. Here are some touching tributes from the rugby world:
Very sad to hear Phil Bennett has passed away.
A true #rugby legend & an iconic figure in our history as shown below.
Thoughts with Phil’s family and friends.
RIP Phil ❤️ https://t.co/yKqUqA3t5c
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) June 12, 2022
— Josh Adams (@JoshAdams951) June 12, 2022
Phil Bennett, one of the greatest that’s ever lived. I was lucky enough to interview him with @davidflatman , we sat and listened in awe. A Legend
— Tom Shanklin (@TomShanklin) June 12, 2022
Desperately sad to hear of Phil Bennett’s passing. One of the greats of Welsh & Lions rugby. Many a wonderful memory of touring with him in 77. Lovely person. Condolences to his family and friends at this sad time. @WelshRugbyUnion @lionsofficial
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) June 12, 2022