The greatest try ever scored?


It is often regarded, certainly by those of a certain age, as the greatest try ever scored. It is, of course, "that try", Gareth Edwards's spectacular effort for the Barbarians against New Zealand on 27 January 1973.

Read the views of those both directly involved and on the edge of their seats watching.

"Oh, that fellow Edwards. If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, no-one would have believed it. That really was something." - BBC commentator Cliff Morgan.

What makes it such a remarkable try?

Wales' Gerald Davies (watching after pulling out of the game injured):

"That try, I think, expresses rugby at its best. The agile, the fleet of foot, the Will-o'-the-wisp, and the whole magic of a movement that starts on your own line and ending at the far end with Gareth, majestically, diving over in the corner."

Edwards himself:

"Why it transcends rugby is the improvisation, and the skill factor, under pressure, that was shown in the try. Because when the move started, nobody, bar nobody, myself included, was thinking about a try."

The magic unfolds

The move was started by Wales fly-half Phil Bennett, whose dazzling side-steps confounded the All Black defenders bearing down on him.

Unlike many of the Barbarians team, who had been part of the victorious Lions tour of New Zealand two years earlier, Bennett had not been in the tour party.

Best of the rest?

  • New Zealand v France, Auckland 1994: Jean-Luc Sadourny finishes off a length of the field move - "the try from the end of the world" - to hand France victory over New Zealand
  • England v France, Twickenham 1991: Philippe Saint-Andre collects a kick ahead after France full-back Serge Blanco counter-attacks from behind his own line at Twickenham
  • New Zealand v England, Cape Town 1995: All Black winger Jonah Lomu tramples Mike Catt one the way to the first of his four against England in the 1995 World Cup semi-final
  • New Zealand v Australia, Wellington 2000: Christian Cullen's record-equalling score as he finishes off a dazzling triple scissors move as the All Blacks lost to Australia
  • United States v South Africa, Montpellier 2007: Takudzwa Ngwenya burns off South Africa's Bryan Habana as the Eagles go coast to coast to score the try of the 2007 World Cup

Lions coach Carwyn James, a Welsh rugby guru, addressed the Barbarians team before the game and spoke to some players individually. Bennett, who had previously been overshadowed by his predecessor in the Wales 10 shirt, Barry John, was nervous.

But James told him: "You're not in the shadows any more. Go out and show the world what Stradey  knows. You can side-step this lot off the park."

New Zealander Ian Kirkpatrick:

"Phil Bennett, when he took that kick from us down probably mid-way between the 22 and goal-line, we expected him to kick it, not run it. So he did his jinky side-steps, beat three of us, I was one of them, and set it off."

Bennett feeds Wales full-back JPR Williams. He moves it on to England hooker John Pullin, who in turn finds John Dawes. He combines with Tom David, who feeds back row colleague Derek Quinnell…

Edwards again:

"I remember shouting to Derek Quinnell, in Welsh as it happens, just to give him an indication he had support."

England and Barbarians' David Duckham:

"Gareth took the ball at full pace and not even a brick wall would have stopped him."


"I remember thinking, as I'd got 20 or 30 yards to go, because I'd had some hamstring trouble 'ah please God, please don't let it go now'.

"I remember then, going back [after scoring], this depth of sound. It's not up there in the stands, it's on top of you. I knew, by the reaction of the crowd, something special had happened."

The final word

"You play at a level outside the conscious when everything is instinctive and sport achieves an art form. The try was a demonstration of a game at that almost super-conscious level," Carwyn James, the inspiration behind the Barbarians' approach, in his Guardian column following the game.