Sir Gareth Edwards CBE

Rugby Legend & Try Scorer

A living legend, Gareth Edwards is viewed by many as the greatest rugby player ever. As scrum half, Edwards celebrated 7 Championship titles for Wales in the Five Nations in 11 seasons, and was instrumental to the Welsh team’s dominance from the mid-‘60s through the ‘70s.

Gareth Edwards playing for Wales vs France, 1972
Wales vs France, 1972

How It Began

Gareth Owen Edwards was born in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, a village on the border of Carmarthenshire and Neath Port Talbot, in the southwest of Wales. Edwards’ love of rugby blossomed early on, though he showed promise in a number of sports, even signing for Swansea Town football club at the tender age of 16. He was educated at Pontardawe technical school and then won a scholarship to Millfield School.

Gareth Edwards’ Rugby Career

Gareth Edwards the rugby player really emerged in 1967, with the awarding of his first international cap for Wales against eventual championship winners, France.

To this day, Gareth Edwards is Wales’ youngest ever captain. In February 1968, at only 20 years old, he received his first captaincy in a decisive victory against Scotland.

I have watched the try back a number of times over the years, and you realise the move could have broken down at any moment. So in a way, it is a miracle it was scored at all.

Sir Gareth Edwards CBERugby Legend

Edwards won a total 53 consecutive caps for Wales between 1967 and 1978, in what is often thought of as Wales’ second ‘Golden Era’ of rugby — four decades after the first (1900-1919). During his playing career, the Welsh team dominated the Five Nations Championship, claiming seven title wins, including three grand slams and five Triple Crowns. Edwards also Won 10 Caps for the British & Irish Lions and played an instrumental part in the famous Lions victories in New Zealand in 1971 and South Africa in 1974.

Though there were many memorable games and moments, one that will forever be remembered is The Greatest Try — which came during the opening moments of the Barbarians vs the All Blacks in 1973.

The end of Edwards’ international rugby career mirrored the start, facing off against France in the Five Nations. Wales celebrated a 16-7 victory in front of a home crowd at Cardiff Arms Park. And adding another reason to celebrate, Wales sealed the Grand Slam and a third consecutive Triple Crown, making a new record. Before Edwards and his team, none had ever won it more than twice in a row.

After his rugby career was over, Edwards maintained an involvement in Rugby as a commentator and becoming a Director at Cardiff Rugby Club.

Gareth Edwards meeting Prince Charles before Barbarians game
The Prince of Wales
Gareth Edwards reading Barbarians vs New Zealand 1973 programme
Fond Memories

Life Outside Rugby

Edwards has featured in a number of TV shows, including prime-time TV show This is Your Life in 1976, as a Captain alongside football legend Emlyn Hughes on BBC’s Question of Sport, and as a competitor in the popular Superstars TV series, ultimately representing Great Britain in a world Superstars event.

In a nod to a bygone amateur era, Edwards fondly remembers being allowed by the Welsh Rugby Union to compete in a Superstars competition in Atlanta Georgia as long as he made sure he was back in the UK by the Thursday before the next game. He arrived in London with every muscle aching from the demanding Superstars schedule, and played for Wales against Scotland in Edinburgh within 48 hours of landing. Unsurprisingly, despite less than perfect preparation, Edwards played a starring role in a Welsh victory.

Gareth continues to make regular TV appearances, most recently with the BBC series Gareth Edwards’ Great Welsh Adventure. Gareth has been married to his wife Maureen since 1972. They have two sons, Owen and Rhys, and four grandchildren.

Gareth Edwards standing next to 'The Greatest Try' painting
'The Greatest Try' Painting

Awards and Accolades

A man celebrated on and off the pitch, Sir Gareth Edwards is known as one of the greatest rugby players of all time.

Gareth Edwards was named Player of the Year in Wales in 1969, and BBC Wales Sports Personality of the year in 1974. He received an MBE in 1975. Public polls and votes have long cemented Edwards’ reputation as one of the rugby greats. In 2001, votes cast through the Welsh newspapers crowned him the "Greatest Welsh Player of all time". A 2003 poll of international rugby players by Rugby World went further, declaring him simply the greatest player of all time.

Edwards was one of the first fifteen former players inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame, alongside former teammates Barry John and JPR Williams.

In 2007, Edwards became a CBE for services to sport. He was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours of 2015, for his services to sport and to charity. More recently 4-time prestigious Lions coach, Sir Ian McGeechan has described Gareth Edwards as “the best of the lot of them” when naming his best world XV of all time. McGeechan states that Gareth is “Rugby’s number one, even in this dream team. My favourite player in history. The greatest”.

Gareth Edwards’ Greatest Moment, Reimagined

Celebrate one of the most enduring memories from Gareth Edwards’ rugby career, with a limited-edition print of The Greatest Try.

It was two of my close friends who came up with the idea of commissioning a painting of the well-known 1973 Barbarians try vs New Zealand, but from a previously unseen angle from behind the try line. When they asked if I would support the idea and provide technical input to the painting construction I, of course agreed.

Sir Gareth Edwards CBERugby Legend

The remarkable painting, created by Elin Siân Blake, was commissioned by friends of Gareth Edwards as a tribute to his career and one of its most memorable moments. With generous insight from Gareth himself, Blake has created a stunning celebration of this piece of sporting history.

Buy the print

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