With sport presently on pause, and the future uncertain, Dai Sport is delving occasionally into the past. This time, Harri Morgan has wound the clock back 28 years to 1992, the year in which he turned five years old. The venue was Stradey Park and the game was Llanelli’s famous 13-9 victory over Australia, a team good enough to have won the World Cup just a year previously.
Rather than spending another afternoon lamenting the lack of live sport beaming it’s way out of my telly box in stunning high definition, I have opened a door to the sporting archive, or YouTube as it is more commonly known.
The intention was to find an iconic sporting event, of which I knew the outcome and perhaps bits and pieces of the action, but not the intricacies or narrative that are often hold the true beauty of such occasions.
Before I knew it, I was settling in to consume Llanelli RFC take on then world champions Australia in its glorious entirety. At least I hoped it would be glorious.
The footage kicks in with Llanelli blasting out the Welsh national anthem. The faces of the tight forwards are smeared with petroleum jelly and a couple of dashing moustaches, to boot.
Facial furniture that, despite it being a November day, had nothing to do with raising awareness – at least not to anything other than how marvellous they looked.
The men from West Wales get the game underway with a creative approach. The touring pack await a kick to the left from outsid-half, Colin Stephens. Instead, Nigel Davies chips it right and into the arms of Ieuan Evans.
Unfortunately, the kick only travels about four metres.
Having watched the entire 80, I can confirm that this was perhaps the peak of the home team’s attacking invention. Okay, there may be one notable exception.
Australia are prominent early on, with the hosts thankful for a couple of turnovers, which to the modern day fan are baffling.
Rucks are for the most part a playground pile-on with the ball either retained, stolen – by any means possible – or with Fred Howard, the English whistle blower, required to intervene.
The referee will penalise the obvious or award a scrum to whoever seems to be doing the best at piling on, when the ball is – for whatever reason – trapped.
Lyn Jones is frequently active, yet invisible, at the base of said mound of bodies.
Having missed two previous attempts at goal, Marty Roebuck, the Wallabies’ full-back, opens the scoring at what feels like midway through the first half. There is no clock or scoreboard for the viewer to avail of.
Roebuck’s bright green cycling shorts are excellent. His kicking isn’t. I sympathise with him as he is forced to kick time and again without a tee, cone or sandcastle.
I assume that he has either lost his weapon of choice or that the aforementioned aids are yet to be invented/illegal. He misses multiple goals and is ultimately single-handedly responsible for his team’s loss. A fact that he has to live with to this very day.
From an attacking perspective it is one shot, one kill for Llanelli in the first half.
Willie Ofahengaue, whose name is impossible to say out loud without going into full Bill McLaren mode, is penalised for being in front of the kicker. Or that is what I infer from the ref’s gesticulating.
Stephens belts the penalty into the corner and his side are awarded a scrum following the attacking line-out, which like most of the line-outs is at best a lottery.
Sensing their moment, the Llanelli back line pull off a training paddock play to perfection. Stephens showing the ball on the switch before reverting it back inside to Wales skipper Ieuan Evans to slide in under the sticks.
Parc Y Strade erupts.
Roebuck nudges a second goal to make it a one point game at the break.
The second-half resembles the first. Stephens whacking the ball long off his boot, on the regular.
None of this end-over-end punting, either. He occasionally goes for the spiral but mainly just belts the Mitre as long as he can. The direction is normally decent as well.
Roebuck kicks a goal to put the world champs ahead, but is unable to extend this lead. Despite being afforded numerous attempts.
Perhaps the most unusual thing in the second half is that a scrum has to be reset. On the whole, scrums are vastly more pleasing than in the modern day.
Both teams give it some grunt and shunt but collapses and penalties are non-existent.
With Australia’s discipline exemplary in their own half, Stephens looks for the drop-goal as a means of thrusting his team ahead.
He strikes one beauty that connects flush on the upright. His next attempt is much less prevalent from an airborne perspective.
When Howard awards the Wallabies a penalty on their own 22 with only minutes remaining, it looks like a done deal. Granted, I knew it wasn’t.
Up steps the boy Roebuck. He looks to spiral the ball long down the park. It ends up going about three metres shorter than Nigel Davies’ kick off some 78 minutes prior.
The line-out is a mess. Of course it is, and Fred awards Llanelli a scrum. From the base, Rupert Moon feeds his fly-half and Stephens sends the ball sailing on a beautifully awkward trajectory through the famous Stradey posts to send Llanelli in front with minutes to play.
For good measure – and to prove it wasn’t a fluke – Stephens knocks over another drop goal moments later.
The crowd storm the pitch. They thought it was all over. It wasn’t.
A couple of minutes later Fred decided that enough was enough and the pitch invasion was on – hero of the hour, Stephens, going full throttle for a hot shower and a cold beer.
A famous win for Llanelli, hardly a game for the ages from a quality perspective – but history cares little for that.
Now, what to watch next?
I had been hunting for the infamous battle of Brive – but to no avail. Any tip-offs on where I could locate it?