Cardiff RFC Season Review 1880 – 1881



1880-81 P10, W7, L2, D1.

W. D. Phillips was re-appointed as captain, and W. H. Treatt became hon. secretary, an office he was to hold until 1891-2 after which season a paid official in the person of C. S. Arthur was appointed. Sixteen fixtures had been arranged but of these, six were cancelled – most of them due to frost. The biggest victory was that over a local club named Ironsides who were defeated by 7 goals. 5 tries to nil. Newcomers were the Moseley Harriers— later to become Moseley Club. A drawn match with them of one try each was followed by dinner given by the Moseley Club at the Grand Hotel, Birmingham—11th December 1880.

The match with Moseley was followed by a Challenge Cup match at Newport where we lost to our rivals by two tries to one in a game which was marred by an incident which occurred that led to a rather disgraceful disturbance in the game. “A hot headed member of the Newport team, an irritable character, made himself obnoxious by his noisy and insulting behavior to several of the visiting players. Ultimately one of them lost his temper and struck the pugnacious Newportonian, who of course retaliated, and a fight would have ensued had not the other players intervened, and some two or three minutes expired before order was restored and the game re-commenced.

‘As soon as time was called a mob surrounded the pavilion and hooted the Cardiff men as they entered. Cries of ‘give it to him, make him apologise’ were numerous.” On leaving the ground the Cardiff men were subjected to very rough treatment some of them being jostled and others kicked and beaten, and struggled to escape from a crowd of ruffians who were following them, two got into a hansom cab and a young man who was on the step behind it was pulled off and rolled in the mud. It was also reported that the Newport players were not responsible for the disturbance—’ except for the man who was so eager to fight during the progress of the match which was a disgrace to the town and to the game of Rugby football . Rugby football was hotting up no doubt, but what a credit it is to the Newport and Cardiff Clubs that there has been an unbroken sequence of fixtures to this very day.

The season was notable for three outstanding events, the first being the match between the South Wales Football Union and Gloucestershire at Cardiff. Ten of the club’s players were chosen for the S.W.F.U., namely: W. B. Norton. W. O. Phillips. P. K. Heard, J. Bridie,  I Curling, W. H. Treatt, E. O. Thomas, J A. Jones and R. Trotter, and five from Newport. This selection was considered thoroughly representative “inasmuch as the best players came from these two towns. Gloucestershire ran out winners by two tries, to one scored by J. Bridie. Mr. R. Mullock of Newport  and the S.W.F.U. was an umpire. The second occasion was the Final tie for the challenge Cup between Cardiff and LIanelly at Neath on 12th March 1881. Both were successful  teams but had not met one another during the season. There was a gate of 1500 and special trains had run from Newport in the east and from Llanelly in the west “Every competitor was a hero and both clubs had a large following of admirers, players were objects of unpasant curiosity by the ‘unsophisticated mob’.

It was a hard fought game and although outweighed at forward Cardiff had the superior men behind the scrummage. A J Hybert at back distinguished himself well and with two successive tackles threw Musgrave – a huge man – and Roderick truly into touch. After one-and-a-half hours without a score, extra time of ten minutes each way was agreed and during the latter period Percy Heard who had played well, scored the winning try for Cardiff. whereupon the crowd rushed onto the field and because Mitchell, one of the Llanelly players, refused to give up the ball, the kick for goal was not taken.

Heard, Cardiff’s scorer, was carried off the field shoulder high by his supporters, and on their return to Cardiff in the evening, the team was met at the station by a large number of townspeople and a band which led them to the Queens Hotel where W. O. Phillips the captain thanked the crowd for its reception.

The  third event was the first international match between England and Wales at Blackheath on 19th February 1881. At Mr. Richardson’s field, the Welshmen received their international “baptism” and were routed by eight goals (1 dropped) and five tries to nil. Much criticism arose after the massacre, particularly regarding the selection of the team, and it was alleged, with some truth probably, that the team was far from being a representative one without one player from either the Swansea or Llanelly clubs. The selection had been made by the representatives of the South Wales Football Union. including its live-wire secretary R. Mullock of Newport, and three Cardiff players were chosen, namely W. D. Phillips, B.E. Girling and B. B. Mann. The Welsh Football Union. the W.R.U. of today, was founded three weeks after the match, at a meeting of eleven clubs at the Castle Hotel, Neath, on 12th March 1881, and Mr. Mullock became its first secretary. The club’s leading try scorers for the season were Percy Heard with eight; W. O. Phillips five; and A. J. Evans, H. Trotter and Tom Williams each with two. A treasurer’s account for the season recorded gate money of £86.19.9d. and a deficiency of £15.13.2d.; the cost of a new ball was 10 shillings.

Cardiff 16 13 0 3 396 243 61
Carmarthen Quins 17 10 3 4 372 278 54
Aberavon 16 11 0 5 371 272 53
Llandovery 16 9 2 5 344 285 48
Pontypridd 18 10 0 8 394 376 47
Merthyr 18 8 0 10 362 374 44
RGC 1404 17 8 1 8 409 381 43
Newport 15 7 0 8 294 278 37
Swansea 17 7 0 10 246 292 35
Llanelli 15 6 0 9 293 412 27
Ebbw Vale 17 4 2 11 283 351 27
Bridgend Ravens 18 3 0 15 271 493 19