We’re very fortunate in our industry that we’ve been able to meet a number of sporting heroes but there is only one ‘ultimate gentleman’, Phil Bennett. We’ve banged our drum several times about how fantastic our evening with Warren Gatland and Sam Warburton were… and for us they were brilliant and will forever last in our memory. Sam and Warren were a pleasure to work with as was Alex Cuthbert, Gareth Anscombe, Ian Gough and all the others who have been a part of our events… some of whom we can actually call our friends these days. We’ve also worked with a plethora of sporting stars in what we would call our “day job” in the media. Geraint and I have worked for a whole host of broadcasters, S4C, BT Sport, BBC TV & Radio and Premier Sports just to pick out a few.
Geraint hosted BBC Radio Wales’ ‘Friday Night Social’ weekly sports programme and probably interviewed every Welshman worth chatting too in the course of a season. From Geraint Thomas and the Tour de France to Nathan Blake about grassroots football. My personal professional highlight was being S4C’s pitch-side reporter in the ‘2015 Rugby World Cup’. As a proud Welshmen, you’d think it would be the unforgettable moment when Wales beat England to essentially knock the host out of the competition… surprisingly maybe - it wasn’t. It was being the first person to interview Ritchie McCaw, Dan Carter and at the time the slightly lesser know Beaudan Barrett following their triumphant ‘World Cup Final’. I’ll admit, I wasn’t suppose to be the first to interview them as the host broadcaster ITV had the first pick… but we somehow scragged the trio! Of course they would be good interviews… they were the new ‘World Champions’ after all but I felt they treated every interview and interviewer with the same amount of respect. Also, as an added bonus, it was great to see a fellow Welshman, Nigel Owens, officiating the final. 2015 was a time where I was refereeing at the Welsh Premiership semi-professional level and was fortunate enough to have been mentored and coached by Nige. Anyway, what dose all this have to do with Phill Bennett?
I’ve interviewed Phil a number of times during Scarlets rugby matches and various events. On one occasion I even took Pat’s, Phil’s wife, seat for over 15 minutes during a match and forced her to take shelter in the Quinnell Lounge at Parc y Scarlets whilst we waited for a break in play for the the interview to happen. Not my fault I must hasten to add. I was apologising profusely about taking so much time… Phil just said, “no rush and don’t worry Owain… we’ll just watch the game together!” This from one of the greatest Welsh rugby players of all time. A player that started the greatest rugby try of all time. A player who was instrumental in the British & Irish Lions success in South Africa in 1974. A man who until this day continues to be humble and generous. Phil with all his experiences and attributes, especially hi story telling ability, has been an obvious choice as a guest speaker for hospitality events similar to ours at ‘218 Events’. When we secured Phil for our pre covid 2020 Wales v Scotland Six Nations matchday hospitality… we were chuffed to say the least. The response from our customers was the same. However, as we all know, Covid struck and the event had to be cancelled. Since then my attic has contained a number of memorabilia items for Phil Bennett to sign… and even nearly 18 months on I was asking myself when is the right time to pick up the phone and ask Phil if he’d be willing to sign these photographs and Groggs… will he feel safe having me pop over to see him?!
I didn’t need to hesitate… what a guy… “i’ll come to your workplace in Llanelli Owain and we’ll do it there”. This was after a 15 minute catch up. Every time I’ve spoken to him he has always made me feel comfortable and treated me with the same respect as he probably would have shown to everyone else. Including the likes of Gareth Edwards and Willie John McBryde. I always tell my friends and colleagues that Phil Bennet is just a ‘really nice guy’. Even though I didn’t have the privilege of watching Phil Bennett play rugby live… he’s certainly one of my favourite people - diolch yn fawr Phil. We’ll be selling Phil Bennet signed memorabilia at our Wales v New Zealand matchday hospitality event - on the day we’ll be trying to raise valuable funds for Velindre Cancer Research Centre with another one of our much loved former Wales player - Shane Williams. Phil Bennett - a legend on and off the pitch! 218 Events - ‘Giving You The Best Seat In The House’.
RW Learning, Sponsor
Wales v New Zealand, 30th October 2021, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, South Wales.
Wales v South Africa, 6th November 2021, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, South Wales.
Wales v Fiji, 14th November 2021, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, South Wales.
Wales v Australia, 20th November 2021, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, South Wales.