Six Nations: Scrum V Classics - England v Wales 1976

By Ross HarriesScrum V presenter

England 9 Wales 21 1976

These days, Wales rarely travel to Twickenham as favourites. According to the bookies, this Saturday will be the first time Wales arrive at the old Cabbage Patch expecting to win, since 1988.

It's a strange situation for fans and players alike. Wales captain Sam Warburton says his side needs to embrace the favourites tag - to remould themselves as a team that arrives at Twickenham, chests puffed out, ready to make history, rather than a side that sneaks in under the radar, hoping to snatch a sly victory.

But for one player, going to Twickenham has always been like that. Full-back JPR Williams played against England 14 times. Three times as a junior, 11 as a senior. And he never lost. Home or away.

In 1976, he held centre stage in a Twickenham victory that set Wales on the road to a remarkable quadruple-triple crown.

In those halcyon days, travelling to south-west London held no fear for the Welsh. In 1976, England held the wooden spoon - and the rivalry was becoming increasingly one-sided. The men in red had lost just once to their nearest neighbours in the previous 12 meetings. And on this occasion, the battle-scarred JPR was in no mood to give up his unbeaten record.

But England were a proud bunch and tore into Wales in the opening quarter, both sides going close in a fast and furious 20 minutes. But it was Gareth Edwards who struck first, pouncing on a loose ball at the back of a retreating England scrum.

And then JPR put his stamp on the game. Mervyn Davies feeding Phil Bennett, before Benny ignited the back line. Steve Fenwick clocked the narrow English defence, sending a floated pass out to JJ Williams on the left wing. JJ juggled the ball before slipping an inside pass to the rampaging JPR, who crashed through the covering defence to score.

It gave Wales a comfortable half-time lead, which they'd never surrender. JPR put the icing on the cake with another superbly crafted try in the second half. His arcing run and scissors with Phil Bennett opening up a clear path to the line.

In JPR's words that was "game, set and match" to Wales, another victory notched up against the old enemy. And what made it sweeter still for JPR, was the fact he lived and worked as a doctor in London, giving him ample opportunity to gloat among his English work colleagues. Living in the English capital, he said, made him feel "even more Welsh".

One of the reasons Wales were so successful during this period was their strength in depth.

According to JPR, there were "loads of great players in Wales, who couldn't get near the national side".

In this campaign to date, Wales have used 26 players in two games as they've been forced to cope with injuries and suspension. But their quality hasn't dipped - a sure sign of strength in depth. Along with being favourites at Twickenham, it's another thing they have in common with the 1976 vintage. Victory on Saturday could be the next step on the path to another golden era.

See highlights, introduced by JPR Williams on Wednesday, 22 February, BBC Two Wales at 1900 GMT

Top Stories