Sunday June the 22nd was the fortieth anniversary for one of the greatest tries in rugby history, thinks me. It came in the midst of a trouncing by the British Lions of the mighty Springboks in the second test of that 1974 series in Pretoria. The Lions triumphed 28-9, a huge victory, back in the day when tries were merely worthy of four points.
Well, many people rightly hail ‘that try’ from Gareth Edwards for the Barbarians against New Zealand at Cardiff Arms Park in the autumn of 1973 as arguably the greatest-ever try, and let’s face it, one never gets tired at drooling over it. However, on my journeys through cyberspace I chanced upon another try by a brilliant Welshman, JJ Williams several months later in South Africa which almost bears comparison, not least because it begins with another trademark jinking run from the dynamic Phil Bennett deep in his own territory. [I love the fact that the South Africans dismissed Bennett as merely a “jack in the box”!]
Anyhow, what is quite unique about this Lions try is that although the tourists took the ball out of their own 22, courtesy of some interplay between McBride and chums before they crossed the hosts try-line, the move was not entirely one of accurate, fluent passes. In fact, this was one of the more eccentric of tries because although the Lions did not lose possession of the ball, the little oval object did go to ground, and here enters a bizarre cameo from big Roger Uttley. The ball was in danger of dribbling over the touchline when the English maestro remarkably back-heeled it into play, allowing JJ Williams to fly hack it over the line for a touchdown.
I like the comments of big Roger, which I found somewhere on YouTube where the England legend swears blind [with tongue firmly in cheek] that his intervention was a moment of supreme skill which Best, Messi, or Pele would have been proud of, but the jury may well be out as to whether it was a moment of genius, because one could be forgiven for thinking that big Uttley was almost treading on the ball. I guess that we will just have to give the big guy the benefit of the doubt. Who after all would be courageous enough to argue with Roger? You can see this remarkable try on the following YouTube link: