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RUGBY UNION: . . . this is Gareth Edwards, a dramatic start - what a score! Phil probably thought: `I've started, can't get out of it, so I had better keep going'. People say to me: `You must have practiced that move' must be joking!; Paul Abbandonato focuses on the 30-year anniversary of one of the most special moments in Welsh sporting history.

Byline: Paul Abbandonato

I T must be the only try in history which is remembered by the words of the commentator.

Rugby's equivalent, if you like, to Geoff Hurst, 1966, and they think it's over.

Only for Hurst and Kenneth Wolstenholme, read Gareth Edwards and Cliff Morgan.

`` . . . David, Tom David, the halfway line, brilliant by Quinnell. This is Gareth Edwards, a dramatic start . . . what a score!''

You know the game. The Baa-Baas versus New Zealand. Cardiff Arms Park.

Believe it or not that try was exactly 30 years ago. January 27, 1973, the moment the most famous, and surely the greatest, try in rugby history was scored by our great Gareth.

To celebrate the 30-year anniversary, the Baa-Baas side are gathering again tomorrow night in London's Hilton hotel for a celebration dinner.

Some of the New Zealanders, like Ian Kirkpatrick and Bryan Williams, are due to fly over.

And there is no doubt what subject will be discussed above any other - Gareth's big moment.

Edwards himself admits that wherever he goes in the world, that famous score, after barely four minutes of frenetic action, gets raised by members of the public more than any other about his career.

He even tells the story of how a young Sean Fitzpatrick, watching the game on TV, decided at that moment he wanted to take up rugby, embarking upon a career which saw him skipper New Zealand a record number of times.

Thirty years on, Gareth still remembers the try as if it had happened yes t erday.

But first, before reading what he thinks about it, it is important to put the occasion into a bit of context.

They may have been called the Baa-Baas, but this was, in effect, the British Lions. To keep the theme going, they were being coached by Carwyn James.

Just 18 months earlier, Carwyn, Gareth and Barry John had led the Lions to their historic 2-1 triumph over New Zealand.

The outcome of that rubber still rankled big time down under. The New Zealand Class of `72-73, seen by many as the most unsmiling, unfriendly touring team in history, were after revenge.

They were up for the Baa-Baas showdown big time, fully on song after a successful Great Britain tour. They had been together for nearly three months and were ready for their moment.

The Baa-Baas, by contrast, managed one 20-minute training session at Penarth on the Friday night before the game.

``It was wet, it was windy, it was nothing like the Arms Park. In fact, it was a disaster,'' recalls Gareth.

Things got worse on the morning of the match. Gerald Davies had already been ruled out through injury.

``Suddenly Mervyn Davies, who I was rooming with, woke up on the morning of the game and said he was feeling awful,'' recalls Gareth.

``He too had to pull out. I know people talk about things being OK on the night, but we certainly had to hope for that! Let's just say our prepar-ations hadn't exactly gone to plan.'' It was under those circumstances that the Baa-Baas ran out before a packed Arms Park to what Edwards describes as ``an electric atmosphere.''

With the adrenalin flowing, then began what he calls the most franticfour-minute start he match.

``The ball just seeme from one end of the pit recalls Gareth.

``JPR would kick i Going would collect a far back.e has known in amed to keep going pitch to the other,''k it one way, Syd t and boot it just as``To and fro, back and forth, no-one seemed to know what to do with it. I was just running up and down, up and down - and I wasn't getting near the ball.

``I was just thinking to myself, `What's going on here', when Phil, with a bit of space, got hold of the ball deep in our own 22.

``I thought to myself, `Brilliant, he will kick to touch at last and we can have a much-needed break'. That's what I presumed would happen, anyway. '' On the contrary, the Baa-Baas' mercurial No10, also seemingly caught up in the frenetic start, began the move that led to rugby hisory.

He jinked past Alistair Scown, then Ian Hurst, then Peter Whiting and finally Kirkpatrick in a movement which has been described as the greatest single moment of vir-tuosity rugby has known. Gareth smiles, ``I think Phil probably thought to himself, `I've started, can't get out of it, so I had better keep going!' ``People have told me `You must have practiced that move.' You must be joking!''

Actually, study the video of the try and you will see that as the Baa-Baas' No 10 starts his weaving run, Gareth has just finished back-tracking, having come from the other end of the Derek Quinnell. Then, charging at a speed which Linford Christie would have been proud of, Gareth finally gets the ball in hand.

He sprints past Karam, outstrips Robertson and dives full on to crash through the despairing attempt at a cover tackle by Grant Batty.

The sense of wonderment at what had just been achieved is only over-taken by what Gareth calls the most deafening reception he has known to a t ry.

The Arms Park crowd, as one, were on their feet. They knew they had just witnessed a very special rugby moment.

``I have never run so fast on a rugby pitch,'' recalls Gareth. ``I had timed my run from 50 yards out and by the time I took the pass I was in full sprinting stride.

``Then I recalled the words of my schools rugby mentor. Namely that you were always more difficult to stop when you dived full out.''

To this day, people still quiz Gareth about that moment.

``Wherever you go in the world, I'm, asked, `Tell us about that try,''' he says.

``And the real satisfaction I is the impact it seems to have had on people.

Like Sean Fitzpatrick, taking up the game, for example.''

Hard to think, isn't it, it was actually 30 years ago.

The last word goes to commentator Morgan. His famous words have already been documented and are known the world over.

Less well known is the phrase he came up with next.

``Oh that fellow Edwards - who can stop a man like that?'' asks Morgan. Who indeed?

pitch. He has come to a complete stop and, out of camera shot, has to turn around and gallop back upon the other way to catch up with play once more.

The rest, as they say, is history. Gareth watches the action unfold ahead of him. The ball is moved on to JPR, who evades Bryan Williams' head-high tackle. John Pullin, John Dawes throws his outrageous dummy to keep the move going, Tom David,


PLACE IN HISTORY: The Barbarians team against New Zealand
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:8NEWZ
Date:Jan 27, 2003
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