Skip to content

Slammed: The Seventies – 5 issues we discovered from Wales documentary

They had been a trailblazing group of younger gamers that may change rugby ceaselessly.

The Wales group of the Seventies have lengthy been a part of rugby folklore.

However what few individuals keep in mind is simply what it took to realize sporting immortality.

With the assistance of never-seen-before footage and digitally-remastered scenes, a BBC documentary has chartered the roots of that success.

Listed below are 5 issues we discovered from Slammed: The Seventies, which kicks off with the seeds of a rugby revolution.

The unthinkable

Ray Williams (second on proper) launched the idea of teaching into Welsh rugby – to a lot skepticism

There was a time – earlier than participant contracts, brokers and picture proper – when rugby union was totally beginner.

As a part of that code, nationwide groups had been strictly forbidden from even assembly greater than 48 hours earlier than a Take a look at match.

Within the documentary we even witness a faintly ridiculous scene of the Wales group doing press-ups within the Twickenham automobile park earlier than a match.

Nonetheless there was a normal suspicion the likes of New Zealand and South Africa had been ignoring this rule so, in response, Wales took a radical step.

They appointed the world’s first nationwide teaching organizer Ray Williams who, in flip, satisfied the Welsh Rugby Union to nominate its first nationwide coach – former British Lions quantity eight David Nash.

Even the gamers had been doubtful.

“Many individuals had been towards it. They did not even just like the phrase teaching and in some circumstances, unions refused to make use of it,” mentioned Gerald Davies.

The Gamble

Gareth Edwards
The collection of teenager Gareth Edwards was seen as a determined “gamble” by Wales

After shedding their opening two video games of the 1967 5 Nations, Wales took a raffle on a promising however “erratic” 19-year-old scrum-half.

Gareth Edwards was nonetheless a trainee instructor and, as one newspaper reported, “not prepared for the large time”.

Nervous forward of his worldwide debut in Paris, the baby-faced Edwards requested his would-be half-back accomplice David Watkins for a observe session.

Nonetheless the pair had been turned away from the Arms Park by a fastidious groundsman who wouldn’t even lend the pair a ball.

“However I am enjoying for Wales on Saturday!” argued Edwards.

“With that, Dai tied his jacket right into a ball and we used that. So the primary go I ever threw Dai Watkins, my childhood hero, in preparation for my worldwide debut was a rolled up coat from two yards away.”

Wales misplaced 20-14… however years later Edwards could be voted the best participant of all time

The inspiration

Clive Rowlands
Clive Rowlands introduced new coaching concepts – however above all else, ardour

With many nonetheless scoffing on the concept of ​​a nationwide coach after a picket spoon, Wales wanted a elevate and Clive Rowlands was simply the person.

He had captained Wales to a Triple Crown three years earlier and the previous instructor introduced a brand new ethos in direction of coaching and preparation, together with classes on Aberavon seaside.

Immediately this younger group of gamers received fitter, sooner and had time to freeze.

But it surely was Rowlands’ unbridled ardour that may encourage most of all.

“Clive wasn’t a expertise coach. The phrase he used most was ‘calon’ – all the things was about coronary heart,” mentioned former middle John Taylor.

“Within the dressing room he would ask: ‘What are we going to do?’ And we’d all shout again… WIN!”

Within the subsequent seven years underneath Rowlands, Wales gained three championship titles, together with a Grand Slam in 1971, and shared the title twice extra.

The stress

Barry John (L) and Gareth Edwards
Barry John (L) and Gareth Edwards had been idolized however had been within the firing line if Wales ever misplaced

Consider it or not, there was a time when there have been widespread requires Barry John and Gareth Edwards to be dropped.

Humiliation in New Zealand adopted by a heavy loss in Dublin in 1970 sparked a livid backlash from followers and pundits. Even their most well-known gamers weren’t proof against stinging assaults.

“Do you assume there wasn’t stress again then?” exclaimed Edwards.

“It was thrilling however there was expectation. You are all the time anticipated to be at your best. Do not let [people] down.

“In Wales, if you happen to do not win, you are in hassle and we weren’t past reproach.”

Edwards was stripped of the captaincy.

Revenge

Carwyn James speaking to British Lions
Wales’ stars knew they needed to win in New Zealand to be regarded the perfect

Wales roared again to type and swept apart all earlier than them within the 1971 championship with John scoring the attempt that clinched a Grand Slam in Paris.

However there remained a thorn of their aspect. The reminiscence of two hammerings by the hands of the All Blacks two years earlier nonetheless damage.

“We had been put firmly in our place in ’69 in New Zealand,” mentioned Taylor.

“There was expectation after [the slam] however we hadn’t proved ourselves within the southern hemisphere. With out doing that, we had been solely prime of the second division.”

Some 13 Welshmen had been chosen for the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand that summer season.

It will show to be an era-defining sequence.

You may watch the primary a part of Slammed: The Seventies on BBC One Wales at 20:00 GMT on Wednesday or on demand on BBC iPlayer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *