Cardiff RFC Season Review 1879 – 1880


P8, W6, L1, D1


Owing to a very severe winter during which many weeks were spent skating, to the exclusion of football, only eight matches were played. Some fixtures fell through and others were unavoidably cancelled owing to frost. W. D. Phillips was appointed captain— in fact he was captain or vice-captain for each of the seasons 1878/9-1883/4. A forward of some renown, he gained five Welsh caps and made over a hundred first team appearances, and he gained a reputation for “knocking over his opponents who tried to bar his progress “. He was another great personality the Cardiff Club was to find, a man of character, and often in demand as a humourist and witty raconteur for after dinner speeches. On his retirement he served the club’s committee until after World War I including the high office of President and, in various capacities, served the Welsh Rugby Union for eighteen years.

There were several ‘disputes’ in matches in which both captains and umpires differed. A drawn match with Newport. and one with Lampeter (St. David’s College) which was a South Wales Challenge Cup-tie were both subject to them. Much interest was taken in the match with Newport at home on November the 8th where both clubs played unusually well. The odds were on Newport, and it was reported that “in consequence of the balance of power and skill in these two clubs the results are almost nothing “, the term “balance of power “ was to be much used nearly a century later, but in a political context. Newport’s try to draw the match was alleged by Cardiff’s captain to have been scored while the ball was dead and disputed accordingly, and he suggested that the goal kick be taken under protest. Newport’s captain would not agree, and so he (W. Phillips) took his team off the field five minutes before time.

In the match with Lampeter, Cardiff’s drop goal was disputed by both the college captain and by the umpire, it being alleged that the ball dropped two yards short, but this was denied by the Cardiff captain and the referee. It is recorded that Cardiff won the match by one drop goal and a try to a try, but the governing body of the South Wales Union ordered the match to be replayed, and it was, a fortnight later, at Llanelly on 28th February 1880, where the collegians triumphed by two tries to one. Supporters of Lampeter were in full force, and they were vocally assisted by partisans from Llanelly. The first of their tries was scored by their half-back T. C. Richards amidst loud cheers, and it was reported that “even the lethargic divine cleric gave a few surreptitious shouts of approval. Lampeter’s second try was also scored by a half-back, R. T. Jones, whilst that of Cardiff was scored by our half-back E. C. Saunders after a strong run during which he beat three opponents in the making of it.

E. C. Saunders was the top scorer in this brief but interesting season with ten tries to his credit he also dropped one goal. W. B. Norton, P. K. Heard, and W. H. Treatt each scored two tries, the captain scored a try and a dropped goal. J. C. Stothert, B. Cooper, B. B. Mann, and B. E. Girling each got one try, W. B. Norton also dropped one goal. Thirty-three players took part in the season’s matches, but only one, the captain W. D. Phillips, played in all the eight.

Seven matches were arranged for the Second Fifteen, two each with the second strings of Caerleon, Maindee (Newport), and the Newport Club itself, the remaining one was fixed up with Monkton House School, Cardiff; unfortunately no records were obtainable as to whether these matches were played. The membership card for this season was very quaintly endorsed ‘Unless notice is given to the contrary all matches will be played in any weather”, and, perhaps more explicitly, “Challenge Cup matches will be preferred over all others.

During the season a match was played between the South Wales Football Union team and Gloucestershire. It took place at The Spa Ground, Gloucester before a crowd of a thousand spectators, and the county team won the game by two tries and three touches-down to nil. W. D. Phillips played for the South Wales team, and it was reported that the latter did not muster a strong side. The actual team is perhaps worthy of print the players were

C. P. Lewis (captain), and W. D. Phillips, backs; Broughton and E. C. Lewis three- quarter backs; W. F. Evans and L. Williams half-backs; and H. Davies, H. Watkins, W. Brown, Lucas, Grimes (J. F.?), Hood (J. or W.?) forwards.

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