Gareth Edwards’ 1973 Barbarians jersey sold at auction for record £240,000
The Barbarians jersey worn by Sir Gareth Edwards when he scored rugby union’s widely-acclaimed greatest try has been sold for a world record fee of £240,000 at auction.
Edwards finished off a spectacular seven-man move started by a side-steeping Phil Bennett deep inside his own half during the Barbarians’ 23-11 victory over New Zealand in Cardiff 50 years ago.
The black and white-hooped number nine shirt, which had a pre-sale estimate of £150,000-£200,000, was the centre-piece of his jersey collection which went under the hammer of Penarth-based Rogers Jones Auctioneers and Valuers on Friday afternoon.
📢 Sound On 📢
‘If the greatest writer of the written word would have written that story, no one would have believed it.’ – Cliff Morgan#AudiovisualHeritageDay
📽️ Gareth Edwards scoring ‘the greatest try ever scored’. Barbarians v New Zealand, 1973 pic.twitter.com/rkCpwRDIrD
— World Rugby Museum (@wrugbymuseum) October 27, 2019
The opening bid started at £85,000 and quickly moved up into six figures before a telephone bidder came in for £160,000, with the eventual winning offer called at £240,000.
Auctioneer Ben Rogers Jones said when introducing Friday’s auction, which was also available to bid online: “The interest in this lot has been spectacular, it has kept us busy for weeks. There has been interest from all around the world.”
Edwards’ 1973 Barbarians jersey had been kept in a box under a snooker table, having previously been gifted to his sons Owen and Rhys.
The previous world record fee for a rugby jersey was £180,000 for the 1905/06 shirt from New Zealand captain Dave Gallaher, who skippered the “Original All Blacks” on their tour to the British Isles, when the team suffered just one defeat in 35 games – a controversial 3-0 loss to Wales in Cardiff.
Other lots on Friday included one of Edwards’ British and Irish Lions jerseys from the 1974 South Africa tour, which sold for £10,000, plus various Wales shirts and jerseys from when he represented teams like a Combined England/Wales XV, East Wales and a President’s XV.
Jerseys worn by other players also featured in Friday’s auction – notably Gerald Davies’ 1971 Lions shirt worn in New Zealand (£10,500) and Sid Going’s 1969 All Blacks top against Wales (£6,000) and a New Zealand Barbarians jersey once filled by Sir Colin Meads (£3,000).
And outside of rugby, there was a collection of t-shirts worn by Edwards during the 1976 BBC Superstars competition, when he finished fourth in an event won by Olympic hurdler David Hemery. They were sold for £700.
Details of the winning bidder for the 1973 Barbarians jersey have yet to be disclosed.
Auctioneer Rogers Jones told the PA news agency: “There were phone bids, room bids and online bidding on Lot One (Edwards’ 1973 Barbarians jersey).
“It was 50 years ago, almost to the day, so it was the right time to sell it. There has been a lot of reliving of that era of rugby recently, especially here in Wales.
NOT LONG NOW!
10 days to go ‘til this sporting icon goes under the hammer (the 1973 jersey not Sir Gareth)!
Will it stay in Wales? 🏴 @ATG_Editorial @philsteele1 @jasonmohammad @Brynwchef @Bryn_Terfel @walesweeklondon @WalesRugby @LondonWelshCCLL pic.twitter.com/4sak5T9vYr
— Rogers Jones & Co (@RogersJonesCo1) February 14, 2023
“I was expecting it to break the world record. I just felt it had more appeal to a wider audience than the previous record, which was for quite a historic jersey from 1905.
“This one is more in the public domain, in the era of television and also there are YouTube videos. It has got some pedigree and vintage now.”
Edwards, 75, had given away a number of his jerseys down the years, and the family felt the time was right for this one to be passed on to a new home.
Rogers Jones added: “I have heard from his son, and they (family) are really pleased.
“Sir Gareth has his caps, his memories, his photographs and his family, so it is not as if he had a real strong feeling about the jersey in his latter years.
“It is his from a long time ago, and one in which he enjoyed playing, but there are more important things to him.”