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The rugby world has been rocked by the sad death of Phil Bennett after the Welsh legend died at age 73 on Monday.
Regarded as one of Wales' greatest ever players, Bennett played 29 times for his country between 1969 and 1978, winning two Five Nations grand slams and three triple crowns.
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The former flyhalf also represented the British and Irish Lions and the Barbarians and played 413 games for club side Llanelli.
His Test debut made the history books as Bennett was rugby's first replacement substituting the injured Gerald Davies at centre for his international bow as a 20-year-old in a 1969 defeat against France in Paris.
With half-back partner Gareth Edwards, regarded as the finest scrum-half to play the game, the pair led Wales to a Grand Slam title in 1977.
“Such sad news from Llanelli this evening with the passing of Phil Bennett, a Welsh rugby legend in every sense and true gentleman,” said a statement from the Welsh Rugby Union.
“Our deepest condolences to Phil’s wife Pat, their family and his many, many friends. Rest in peace Benny.”
Paying tribute to Bennett on their website, Llanelli said in a statement: "A player with stardust in his boots, he possessed a sidestep that would mesmerise defenders.
"His jinking run to spark 'the greatest try ever scored' for the Barbarians against New Zealand in Cardiff in 1973 will live long in rugby folklore."
It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of club legend, former captain and Scarlets President Phil Bennett.
Phil passed away peacefully at his home on Sunday evening surrounded by his close family. pic.twitter.com/FQpacfONfD
— Scarlets Rugby (@scarlets_rugby) June 12, 2022
Rugby world mourns death of legendary Phil Bennett
Affectionately known as 'Benny', Bennett debuted for Llanelli as an 18-year-old and made his final appearance in 1981, captaining the side for six years of his 15-year spell.
Bennett's former club captain and Wales and Lions teammate Delme Thomas said: "He was the best flyhalf I have ever seen on a rugby field."
Llanelli executive chairman Simon Muderack said: "As a club, region and community, we are devastated by this news."
Reflecting on Bennett's key role in Llanelli dominating the domestic scene, including four Welsh Cup triumphs in the 1970s, he continued: "Wherever the Scarlets travel around the world, people mention the name Phil Bennett.
"He was an icon of our sport, a rugby superstar, but someone who always remembered his roots.
"There was no finer ambassador of Scarlets Rugby than Phil, a player respected across the rugby world, both during his career and long after he finished playing.
"Phil was a hero and friend to so many people, not only in Llanelli and West Wales, but throughout the game and I am sure a lot of Scarlets supporters will have their own particular stories of the times they met and chatted to 'Benny'.
"He loved the club and epitomised the values we hold true - humility and pride in our community.
"On behalf of everyone at the Scarlets, we send our heartfelt condolences to Pat, Steven, James and all of Phil's family and friends at this incredibly sad time."
After hanging up his boots, Bennett became an after-dinner speaker, was a pundit for both television and radio and was named president of Llanelli and the Scarlets.
Desperately sad to hear of Phil Bennett’s passing. One of the greats of Welsh & Lions rugby. Many a wonderful memory of touring with him in 77. Lovely person. Condolences to his family and friends at this sad time. @WelshRugbyUnion @lionsofficial
— Sir Bill Beaumont (@BillBeaumont) June 12, 2022
Heartbreaking news about the passing of one of our greatest sporting sons.
Working on the @BBCScrumV sofa and on @BBCRadioWales with Phil Bennett was a joy.
A genius and a gentleman.
Thoughts and prayers with Phil’s family.
Diolch am yr atgofion Benny.#Legend #PhilBennett pic.twitter.com/GxdC39vx0E
— Jason Mohammad (@jasonmohammad) June 12, 2022
RIP Phil Bennett - a true legend of rugby and a humble and generous man. Farewell.
— Brian Moore (@brianmoore666) June 12, 2022
Phil Bennett was all over Welsh rugby's greatest try - timing of pass to David Burcher, killer sidestep, two Scots on the floor and ball propped under the chin. Just marvellous. pic.twitter.com/kLO7ki8Ww7
— Phil Blanche (@philblanche) June 12, 2022
We are saddened to learn of the death of Phil Bennett.
Phil toured with the Lions in 1977 and was a key member of the revered Invincibles of '74.
Our sympathies are with his family and friends at this time. He will be greatly missed.
⭐️ RIP Lion #506
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) June 12, 2022
Phil Bennett has died at the age of 73
He is regarded as one of the greatest players to wear the number 10 shirt for Wales and the Lions pic.twitter.com/47qSk83TRC
— BBC Sport Wales (@BBCSportWales) June 12, 2022
RIP Phil Bennett.
One of Wales’ finest ever fly-halves.
No one had a side step like ‘Benny.’pic.twitter.com/f51XXNvpNv
— Jamie Phillips (@JNPhillips4) June 12, 2022
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