|Scarlets celebrate unique heritage on 40th anniversary of All Blacks win|
|News - History News|
|Friday, 26 October 2012 09:59|
A date which will remain at the heart of Scarlets culture and heritage, 31st October 1972, a moment in sporting history that stands out as one of the iconic rugby wins of all time, when the Scarlets beat the All Blacks 9-3 at Stradey Park.
The fact that the time and score for this iconic game takes pride of place in Parc y Scarlets’ retail store and museum tells it's own story - and on Wednesday evening, the Scarlets will celebrate their great rugby heritage at one of the largest rugby dinners Wales has ever seen.
Among the special guests arriving in Llanelli next week will be the New Zealand Rugby Union, Bryan Williams who played in the historic game 40 years ago, as well as all of the victorious 1972 Llanelli team including current Scarlets President Phil Bennett.
Parc y Scarlets will host a showcase dinner for 1,200 guests inside its indoor arena named the captain of the 1972 side Delme Thomas - with a centre-piece recreation of Stradey Park’s pitch as a focal point for the dinner.
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the historic game, the Scarlets have brought together all the members of the team and guests, with a host of British and Irish Lions legends from across the span of Scarlets history for an evening that will celebrate the values and culture of one of Wales' greatest rugby clubs. The WRU will be represented by their President Dennis Gethin and First Minister Carwyn Jones will also be in attendance.
The evening is sponsored by Carmarthenshire’s Owens Transport, which is also celebrating its 40th anniversary in business this year.
Guests will be hosted by Rupert Moon and Alun Wyn Bevan and entertained by the Welshman whose words have immortalised the game - Max Boyce.
The Scarlets will host a silent auction on the evening with some sensational one-off items to bought to raise funds for local charities chosen by the 1972 Llanelli Team via the Ray Gravell and Friends Chariatable Trust. Among the unique auction items are two of the original Llanelli jerseys from the 1972 game recently signed by all the players in the team.
It promises to be an emotional and memorable rugby night in West Wales for all involved including the captain of the side in 1972 Delme Thomas. Known affectionately as the ‘King of Stradey Park’, few will not have seen the iconic black and white picture of Delme Thomas being held aloft by the celebrating crowds on that afternoon.
Now in his sixties, Delme can still go back to that famous day in 1972 and as he admits if he wants a pick-me-up - he just sits back and remembers what he says was one of the most amazing days of his life that will stay with him forever.
Delme Thomas joined Llanelli in 1961 and played 15 seasons with the club –and enjoyed most of his career in the red jersey. He was captain when Llanelli won the league in the 1972/73 season and completed three tours with the Lions.
Delme said he was looking forward to a great night to celebrate the Scarlets rich history and heritage: “I have never experienced anything in my life like the day we beat the All Blacks in 1972. It was a wonderful occasion and the place was absolutely electric.”
The Scarlets Head of Regional Development and Recruitment, Gareth Jenkins who was just 20 when he played at flanker that day, says it is a match he will always remember. He said: "It was the most physical game I've ever played in - we'd never experienced anything like it at the time as younger players.
"The All Blacks have always been formidable and they were quite formidable that day. The result was ours but it was an experience and a half to have played in such a brutal game and come away with a result. The whole town closed for a half-day. It was a great time to remember, it was a great time to be around and a great time to play rugby," he added.
Gareth Jenkins embodies the values and spirit of the Scarlets today and the region’s links with its great past and said the anniversary event was important and relevant to the Scarlets’ modern-day supporters as well.
“We’ll recognise the power of that thinking and leadership of an inspirational captain and coach in Carwyn James and the essence of ‘team’ - where it’s not about individuals but everyone together as a unit that reflect the same set of values, passion and spirit that our Scarlets team has today.
“That was West Wales talent beating the best in the World with the astonishing power of an intensely vocal crowd in inspiring the players on the field and the connection between our rugby and our community.
“It’s a direction we have rediscovered and are building once again in the modern era at our new home at Parc y Scarlets where we have increased crowds significantly this season and last.”
Scarlets Managing Director Mark Davies: "The pride in the Scarlets history, heritage and culture is very strong in this region and the spirit of who we are today is defined by some great moments in our history.
“We are delighted to have the facilities here to create an event worthy of these players and to thank them and all those who have dedicated their time and served our region and club so passionately over decades.
“We want to have a night fitting of that win, to show our spirit and camaraderie as a region and respect our great heritage. I’m sure it will be night to remember for everyone at Parc y Scarlets.”