Phil Bennett (born October 24, 1948) was a Welsh Rugby Union fly half from 1969 to 1978. His flair and range of tricks, including his famous sidestep and swerve, meant he was a firm favourite with crowds.
Born in Felinfoel, Wales, Bennett made his debut on the 22nd March 1969 against France in Paris at the age of 20 when he became the 1st ever substitute in International Rugby. Initially, Phil played in a number of positions including fullback and centre, but settled in the fly-half position in 1972. He succeeded the legendary Barry John in that position.
His form meant that he joined the British Lions on their famous tour to South Africa in 1974, scoring 103 points. His 50-yard try against Pretoria on that tour was a career highlight. Even so, a place in the Wales side was not guaranteed, and he found himself a tightly marked man for the rest of his career. This meant he never reached the heights of 1974, although he did captain the British Lions on the 1977 Tour.
Bennett retired from Rugby Union in 1978, having won a total of 29 caps. He played his club rugby at Llanelli RFC, where he played 16 seasons. He also played 20 times for the Barbarians, including the famous game against the All Blacks in January 1973. In that game he was the catalyst for the Gareth Edward's try early in the game that connoisseurs of the game still regard as the finest ever scored. Gathering a bobbling ball in his own 22, Phil beat four players with his trade mark sidestep before passing to John (JPR) Williams to launch the move.
Cliff Morgan's now legendary commentary of the try describes it thus: "Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff. Phil Bennett covering, chased by Alistair Scown. Brilliant! Oh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Pullin, John Dawes. Great dummy! David, Tom David, the half-way line. Brilliant by Quinnell. This is Gareth Edwards. A dramatic start. What a score!"
This had shortly followed another defining moment in his career when, through an exceptional tactical kicking performance, he helped his beloved Llanelli to a 9-3 victory over the same touring All Blacks in October 1972.
His autobiography is entitled Everywhere for Wales, and he now commentates on the game for television.
In November 2005 Phil Bennett was finally admitted into the Welsh rugby hall of fame.