IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No 5 – Gareth Owen Edwards CBE, Wales
- Born: 12 July 1947 in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, near Ammanford, Wales.
- Family - father Glan, a miner, mother Annie, younger brother Gethin.
Married to Maureen, two sons Owen and Rhys. Both played for Cardiff Athletic.
- Education - Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Primary School / Millfield School (scholarship) / Pontardawe Technical School / Cardiff Teachers Training College (now UWIC).
- Other sports - He played soccer for West Wales Youth and had a final trial for Wales Youth. At 16 he signed forms for Swansea City after appearing for them as an outside left in the Wales Youth cup final. He has been described as an outstanding prospect in gymnastics and a talented track and field athlete. A long-jumper of international class (21ft 6 in) and a promising hurdler, he won the England Schools 200 yards hurdles title (beating Alan Pascoe who was later an Olympic medallist). He competed for England in 1966 British Schools Internationals against Wales. He was the Wales Schools Middle Boys Champion in 1963 and 1964 (24.1secs and 23.6secs). He is also an accomplished fisherman and a useful tennis player and golfer. In 1990 he set a British angling record when he landed a pike weighing 45lb 6oz at Llandegfedd Reservoir in Gwent.
- Honours – He was named Player of the Year in Wales in 1969; Made an MBE in 1975; Rothmans Player of the Year 1978; Voted the greatest player of all time in a poll of international rugby players conducted by Rugby World magazine in 2003. In the 2007 the Queen presented him at Buckingham Palace with the CBE for services to sport. Inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2007.
- Since his retirement from the game in 1978, he has gone on to become an accomplished writer, broadcaster and businessman.
- Management executive with a Neath-based company called Dynevor Engineering.
- Vice-chairman of Hyder (Wales Water company).
- Director of Mercedes dealership Euro Commercials Ltd.
- President of Cardiff Institute for Blind.
- Director of Cardiff Club
- Position – scrum half
- Played for – Gwaun-cae-Gurwen Primary School, Millfield School, Cardiff College, Cardiff RFC, Wales Secondary Schools, East Wales, Wales, Barbarians, Wolfhounds, Irish President XV, World XV in South Africa in 1977, the combined England and Wales against Scotland and Ireland at the RFU centenary in 1971, first Wales Sevens team SRU centenary in 1973, RAF (though not in the Services) on tour in Cyprus 1972.
- Scored three tries on Cardiff Athletic debut on 10 September 1966 away to Briton Ferry.
- Made his debut for Cardiff against Coventry on 17 September 1966.
- Played 12 seasons for Cardiff - 67 tries in 195 games.
- Played for Wales Secondary Schools v Yorkshire (full cap) and France in 1965 from Millfield School.
- International debut – 1 April 1967 v France, aged 19 years 264 days.
- Last test – 18 March 1978 v France, aged 30 years 250 days.
- Represented Wales in 57 matches of which 53 were tests, scoring 100 points.
- Represented the British and Irish Lions in 39 matches of which 10 were tests, scoring 58 points.
Wales & Cardiff
- The 1969 Tour of New Zealand, Australia & Fiji
- The 1973 Tour of Canada (Captain)
- The 1975 Tour of Japan & Hong Kong
- The 1967 Cardiff Tour of South Africa
- The 1972 Cardiff tour of Rhodesia
- The 1968 Lions tour to South Africa
- The 1971 Lions to New Zealand
- The 1974 Lions to South Africa
- Played a record 53 consecutive tests for Wales
- It took him 3,962 days (10 years 312 days) to play 50 matches for Wales
- Grandfather Jacob Edwards also played rugby. After one game he caught a cold and died.
- Younger brother Gethin played several times for Cardiff. He partnered Gareth at fly half on Cardiff’s tour of Rhodesia in 1972.
- Both his sons Owen and Rhys played for Cardiff Athletic
- It was at Pontardawe Secondary Technical School where he met his coach and mentor Bill Samuel. Samuel initially said to Gareth’s parents: “I am a qualified soccer coach and referee. I can write to Manchester United, Arsenal or Tottenham and fix a trial. Name your club Gareth. Play for Wales at rugby indeed. You will be lucky to play for Cwmgors.”
- Samuel asked “Where do you play son?", Gareth replied: "Centre". Samuel responded “Brylcreem” position that. You’re scrum half. You’re a gymnast.”
- Second youngest scrum half (19) to start for Wales – the youngest was Haydn Tanner at 18.
- When he led Wales against Scotland in 1968 at 20 years seven months he was the youngest captain in Wales history.
- Second youngest player to captain his country in the history of international Rugby. James Flynn of Australia holds the all-time record aged 20 years.
- Captained Wales on 13 occasions.
- First Welsh player to achieve 50 Caps – on 4 February 1978 v England.
- Thirteenth international player to represent his country in 50 internationals.
- He was a team captain on the BBC TV quiz show “A Question Of Sport” from 1979-81, together with the late Emlyn Hughes
- Books: Autobiography ‘Gareth’. Author of ‘Rugby Skills’ (with Ian Robertson); ‘Forward Skills’ (with Ian Robertson); ‘Gareth Edwards on Fishing’ (with Tony Dawson); ‘Golden Years of Welsh Rugby’.
What he said
“I was part of a country which had rugby blood in its veins, and for a short time I was part of its national side which stretched out for the top and reached a pinnacle. I am thankful for that.”
“I take my hat off to all my Welsh outside-halves, though there were only four. I shall never forget them and I will always lift a pint to David Watkins, Barry John, Phil Bennett and John Bevan.”
What they said about him
- “I said to him, ‘Look Gareth. You throw it and I’ll catch it’ … It was pouring and we were like two drowned rats. I could have played in a duffel coat and still done my job as his passes made it so easy.” - Barry John after their first Wales trial together.
- “Gareth stands alone. He was never a one-man team but he was the one man every team would have killed for.” - Phil Bennett
- “A church should be built on the spot he scored that try against Scotland in the mud.” - Spike Milligan.