Phil Bennett Speaks at Caldicot RFC

British Lions Stories and Thoughts from Phil Bennett

Our latest rugby hospitality event was with the legendary Llanelli, Wales, Barbarians and British Lions fly-half Phil Bennett at Caldicot RFC in South Wales.Legends_Hospitality-234225

With the British Lions presently touring New Zealand, it was great to hear the thoughts of a player who wore the Lions red jersey in 8 tests on the 1974 and 1977 tours scoring 44 points.  He was also captain of the 1977 tour to New Zealand, which they lost 3-1.

Phil Bennett was a key member of the undefeated 1974 British Lions who toured South Africa.  However, his style of running the ball from any part of the pitch was not to the liking of tour captain, Willie John McBride, who told him to ‘not try any of that Barbarians funny stuff here’.  McBride was referring to the Barbarians vs All Blacks test match in 1973 when Bennett double-side stepped inside his own 22 and starting the move that produced, what many believe, was the greatest try ever scored.

Even though rugby has changed with the advent of professionalism, Phil explained that the ability to succeed as a British Lions squad is down to the bonding of the team as much as the capabilities of individual players.

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It was fascinating to listen to Phil’s stories from a classic rugby era, but also to hear his opinions on the modern day game.  Phil often appears as a rugby pundit on television, radio and in the printed press, and his depth of knowledge and love of the oval-balled game was clear for all to see.  It was a great night for any lover of rugby

Caldicot RFC is based near Chepstow in Monmouthshire and was founded in 1961.  In the 2016-17 season, Caldicot RFC finished tenth in the WRU National League Division 2 East with 36 points.

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website

British Lions On Show In Championship Finals

Who Will Play In The First Test in New Zealand?

This weekend (27th May 2017) is the culmination of months of grueling and exciting rugby with two title deciders.  In the Guinness Pro 12, Llanelli Scarlets travel to Ireland to face Munster, and in the Aviva Premiership, Wasps take on Exeter Chiefs at Twickenham.  But which of the 8 British Lions starting in those two finals will be in the starting 15 for the first New Zealand test match in Eden Park, Auckland on 24th June 2017?

Aviva Stadium Dublin

Munster vs Llanelli Scarlets

The best of Scotland, Italy, Wales and Ireland face each other at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, Ireland.  In Dublin there will be 5 Lions squad players on the pitch, with tourist Ken Owens (Scarlets) still recovering from injury.

Jonathan Davies (Scarlets)

Many people think that Davies was lucky to be selected, but when he’s on form he is difficult to handle.  Since being selected his form has improved, but he will need a big game against Munster to push his claim for a starting spot against the All Blacks on the 24th.

Conor Murray (Munster)

Murray is widely expected to secure the number 9 shirt for the first test.  His abrasive style and experience of beating the All Blacks pushes him ahead of Webb and Laidlaw.  However, he also is just returning from injury and it will be interesting to see how he performs.

Conor Murray

Peter O’Mahony

Munster captain, O’Mahony leads by example and will be a huge force to for the Scarlets back row to contain tomorrow.  The level of competition in the back row might just keep him out of the starting 15, but he could make the bench.

C J Stander (Munster)

Tough and uncompromising.  Stander has been outstanding in recent seasons and Warren Gatland has even talked about him being selected at Number 8.  Although maybe Faletau and Moriarty may have something to say about that.  Excellent chance of being selected for the 1st Test.

Liam Williams (Scarlets)

He can play anywhere across the back 3 and has even taken over the kicking duties at the Scarlets.  Making the first 15 may be just out of his reach, although his versatility might get him a place on the bench.

Wasps vs Exeter Chiefs

In Twickenham, the cream of English rugby will be fighting it out to secure the title.  For Exeter it is almost a dream, whilst Dai Young has managed to bring the magic back to Wasps.  However, only 3 Lions squad members will be on show.

Eliot Daly (Wasps)

Another versatile back 3 player who performed well in the Six Nations.  However, with the level of competition, he may struggle to get into the squad for the 1st test unless his performances on tour are outstanding.

James_Haskell_2011James Haskell (Wasps)

Drafted into the squad following Billy Vunipola’s unfortunate withdrawal.  Just because he is a late call up, doesn’t mean that he can’t secure a spot in the 22 and he will be out to show that he should have been selected from day 1.  However, competition in the back row does suggest he may be resigned to watching from the stands.

Jack Nowell (Exeter Chiefs)

Quick, powerful and abrasive.  With North highly likely to feature on one wing, is the 2nd berth between Nowell, Daly, Halfpenny and Hogg?  Like Daly, securing a place in the test squad may be down to outperforming his challengers on tour.

Playing in the finals will be an exciting but worrying time for all the players.  The physicality of rugby means that there will be injuries.  We wish all those playing the best of luck and he hope that they are all on that British Lions plane when it leaves the UK for New Zealand.

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website

 

 

This Years British Lions versus 1971

Who Will Start Against the All Blacks on 24th June?

On Wednesday 19th April 2017, coach Warren Gatland announced the 41-man squad to tour and beat New Zealand in the summer.  There were some surprise inclusions and omissions, but the general consensus is that this is a strong squad.

British Lions 1971

The last British Lions team to win a series in New Zealand was in 1971.  Coached by the legendary Carwyn James and captained by Welshman John Dawes, the Lions won the series 2-1 with the final test in Auckland being drawn.

So how does the present Lions squad compare?  We look at the Lions team who started the First Test against the All Blacks and compare against a predicted team for the 2017 selection:

Full Back – 15

JPR Williams (Wales) started in 1971 as 1 of 6 Welsh players in a formidable back line.  Our prediction for 2017 is the best defensive 15 in the world, another Welshman, Leigh Halfpenny.

Wings – 11 & 14

Another 2 Welshman, Gerald Davies and John Bevan terrorised the All Blacks from out wide.  In 2017, George North (Wales) will be given the task of thundering into the opposition, supported by the speed and slight-of-foot of Stuart Hogg (Scotland).

Centres – 12 & 13

Captain John Dawes lined up with Irish legend Mike Gibson in 1971.  In one of the most hotly contested positions on tour, Own Farrell (England) will start at 12 with Jonathan Davies (Wales) outside.

Fly/Outside Half – 10

One of the best players to grace the rugby field wore the number 10 shirt in 1971.  Welshman Barry John.  But in 2017, it will be an Irishman, Johnny Sexton, who is given the responsibility.

Barry John Johnny Sexton

Scrum Half – 9

Another legend of the game, Gareth Edwards, played scrum half in 1971.  Legend has it that his partnership with Barry John was created in heaven.  Another Welshman will don the number 9 shirt in 2017, Ospreys Rhys Webb.

Number 8

Mervyn Davies (Merv-the-swerve) joined the contingent of Wales players in the team packing down at number 8 in 1971.  In 2017, Billy Vinopola (England) will take on the responsibility to carry the ball across the gain line from the start.

Back Row – 6 & 7

A Welshman, John Taylor, and Englishman, Peter Dixon, teamed up to tame the All Blacks in 1971.  In 2017, the blindside number 6 spot will be taken by CJ Stander (Ireland) with tour captain Sam Warburton (Wales) at 7.  Although could Sam start at 6?

Second Row – 4 & 5

Lions legend, Willie John McBride (Ireland) packed down with W D Thomas of Wales and Llanelli in the engine room.  In probably the most highly contested position on tour, veteran Alun Wyn-Jones (Wales) will join forces with Lions debutante Maro Itoje (England) in a forceful second row.

Props – 1 & 3

The props who made up the 1971 Front Row were J F Lynch (Ireland) and Mighty Mouse, Ian McLauchlan (Scotland).  On this tour there were will be players selected specifically as starters and substitutes and for that reason Dan Cole (England) and Tadhg Furlong (Ireland) get the nod.

Hooker – 2

English great John Pullin was the man in the middle of the scrum in 1971.  When the packs sets the first scrum in New Zealand on 24th June, Welshman Ken Owens will be balanced between his two props.

There is still a lot of rugby to be played before the British Lions face the All Blacks in the First Test and injuries will play a major part in the selection of the team.  The question is whether this Lions side would be good enough to beat the All Blacks on their turf.  Feedback is welcomed!

Legends Hospitality arrange sports hospitality events in South Wales including pre-match entertainment in Cardiff.  For further information please contact Paul Fielding on:

Phone:  01656 782252 or 07768 418308

By email on: legends@hospitalityandleisure.co.uk

Or via our website