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Knighthood for rugby great Edwards

Published 12/06/2015

Wales rugby great Gareth Edwards has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List
Wales rugby great Gareth Edwards has been knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List

Few accolades remain for a man voted the greatest player of all time and who scored the best try in international history, but Gareth Edwards has added a knighthood to his many and varied awards.

The former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half has been awarded his latest mark of respect in the Queen's Birthday Honours List.

The 67-year-old was named rugby union's greatest-ever player in 2003, an accolade owing to outright excellence across 53 caps for Wales and 10 for the Lions.

The former Cardiff half-back's Wales career spanned 11 years, and he made 11 appearances for the world-famous invitational side the Barbarians.

Edwards' try in the Barbarians' 23-11 victory over the All Blacks in January 1973 still stirs the hardest of rugby hearts around the globe to this day.

Barbarians president Micky Steele-Bodger hailed Edwards for inspiring countless generations of youngsters to take up the sport.

"This is a richly-deserved accolade and the Barbarians are proud of our long association with one of rugby's greatest players," said Steele-Bodger.

"Gareth Edwards was a wonderful player and is a wonderful man to be with.

"That 1973 game, that move and that try introduced so many across the world to rugby and it continues to inspire players and supporters more than 40 years on."

Edwards was made a CBE for services to sport in the 2007 New Year's Honours, but is raised up a level given his continued involvement in rugby - but also his widespread charity commitments.

Edwards formed part of Wales' imposing and dominant Test side of the 60s and 70s, among a select club of Welshmen to have won three Grand Slams in either the Five or Six Nations.

After making his Wales debut at the age of 19, his matchless skill-set and class ensured he obtained the captaincy just a year later.

Wales won seven Five Nations titles with Edwards at scrum-half and outstanding playmakers Barry John and Phil Bennett vying for the fly-half berth.

Edwards won the BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year award in 1974 before being awarded the OBE in 1975, retiring from rugby in 1978.

His prowess stretched beyond Wales however, as he helped the Lions claim what remains their only Test series win in New Zealand in 1971, before featuring regularly in the 1974 Invincibles side that remained undefeated throughout South Africa.

Rugby bosses in Wales also paid tribute to one of their greatest-ever stars.

"Gareth Edwards fully deserves the honour of a knighthood for the incredible contribution to rugby he has made both on and off the field," said Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) president Dennis Gethin.

"His reputation as a player is possibly unparalleled and since retiring from the game he has continued to be a powerful ambassador for rugby both in Wales and around the world.

"I had the privilege of playing in the same Cardiff team as Gareth and I am proud to regard him as a friend."

Gareth Davies, WRU chairman, hailed Edwards' "incredible contribution" to the sport in the country.

"He epitomises the values of fair play and courage which are central to rugby," said Davies.

"Everyone who knows Gareth regards him as a true gentleman who is always approachable, courteous and welcoming despite his towering reputation as one of rugby's true greats."

Chief executive Roger Lewis completed the WRU plaudits, by saying: "All of us who watched him in action remain in awe of his incredible talents as a player and since hanging up his boots he has gone on to become one of our most treasured and effective ambassadors for rugby and for Wales wherever he travels around the world."

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