Former Wales and British and Irish Lions flyhalf Phil Bennett has died aged 73.
In a statement, his former club Scarlets confirmed the sad news: “It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of club legend, former Scarlets captain and chairman Phil Bennett. Phil passed away peacefully at home. him on Sunday evening surrounded by his close family.”
Born in Felinfoel, Carmarthenshire, he made his debut for the national side aged 22 and represented them from 1969 to 1978 where he won 29 caps and scored 166 points. Bennett was also a key part of the Welsh squads that won two Five Nations Grand Slams.
The former rugby star also played for the British Lions on their historic unbeaten tour of South Africa in 1974 and produced moments of magic in his 20 appearances for the Barbarians. He retired in style by leading his country to a second Grand Slam in three years with victory over France in their very last match.
Considered one of the greatest players to wear the number 10 shirt for Wales and the Lions, Bennett’s flair and range of tricks, including his famous side step and deflection, meant he was a crowd favourite. Former Bennett’s Scarlets captain and Wales and Lions team-mate Delme Thomas wrote: “He was the best fly-half I have ever seen on a rugby pitch.”
Scarlets chairman Simon Muderack added: “We are devastated by this news. Wherever the Scarlets travel around the world, people mention Phil Bennett’s name. He was an icon of our sport, a rugby superstar , but someone who always remembered his roots.There was no better ambassador for Scarlets Rugby than Phil, a player respected in the world of rugby, both during his career and long after he finished playing. to play.
“Phil was a hero and a friend to so many, not just in Llanelli and West Wales but throughout the game and I’m sure many Scarlets supporters will have their own particular stories about the times when they met and chatted with ‘Benny’. .
“He loved the club and embodied the values we hold – humility and pride in our community. On behalf of everyone at the Scarlets, we send our deepest condolences to Pat, Steven James and all the family and Phil’s friends at this unbelievably sad time.”
After retiring, Bennett became OBE in 1979 and was inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame in 2005.