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Last Updated: Friday, 20 May, 2005, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
Lions following spirit of Carwyn
Lions scrum-half Gareth Edwards is tackled by All Blacks flanker Alan McNaughton in 1971
History weighs heavily on the British and Irish Lions where New Zealand is concerned, with the tourists having won just one series in more than a 100 years of trying.

Carwyn James was the man who coached the Lions to that famous 1971 success, adding to it the following year when his Llanelli club side beat the touring All Blacks.

The current Stradey Park supremo heading the Llanelli Scarlets is Gareth Jenkins, a man who spent his formative rugby years under James' tutelage.

Jenkins now carries the great man's legacy back to the Land of the Long White Cloud this summer as an assistant to Lions head coach Sir Clive Woodward.

"Only once in 100 years have the Lions been successful in New Zealand, which puts into perspective the challenge ahead," Jenkins said.

"It is the ultimate rugby challenge, but that is what you want. If you are going to be successful, you want to win in the most difficult of all places."

As a player with Llanelli during the 1970s Jenkins absorbed the wisdom and philosophy of James, as well as being set on the path that took him into coaching.

"I have fantastic memories," Jenkins added. "He was a man before his time, that was sure, he was a history-maker and he was a huge influence on my career and many other people's as well.

Llanelli Scarlets director of rugby and Lions assistant coach Gareth Jenkins
Carwyn James was just very committed to making sure that what he was involved with was successful
Gareth Jenkins

"As a young player he identified in me certain things that he gave me the opportunity to work with and work at.

"Then as I got into coaching he was very influential in those early years as well with advice and opinion.

"He always played a part until his death [in 1983] in my career, so I'm hugely indebted to him."

Like Jenkins - so far anyway - James was overlooked by the Welsh Rugby Union for the job of national coach.

"Everybody is aware he wasn't given the opportunities he deserved, but I don't think he worried too much about that," Jenkins said.

"His moments were his moments, I don't think he had too much ego or too much concern what didn't happen to him.

"He was just very committed to making sure that what he was involved with was successful."

As well as being a man of vision and tactical subtlety, James had a hard edge that translated to the teams he sent onto the field - 'get your retaliation in first' is his most famous rallying cry.

But there was just one golden rule to follow that James passed on to Jenkins:

"I remember him telling me that the key was very simple - it was purely a case of getting the best players on the plane."



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History of the Lions: New Zealand 1971
18 May 05 |  Lions in NZ


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