Cardiff RFC Season Review 1884 – 1885

1884-5. P24, W15, L7, D2



H. J. Simpson was re-elected captain with W. D. Phillips as his vice-captain, The strongest fixture card to date included two matches each with Newport, Swansea, Lianelly and Neath and one with Pontypridd. The first match of the season was that against the then famous Wakefield Trinity Club whose team was the first Yorkshire one to visit Cardiff, and the Yorkshiremen won by one goal, one try to one try. Queen’s College, Cork, also visited Cardiff in January 1885 and forced us to a draw of one try apiece. The very last match of the season was played against a German Gymnastic Society from London whom we beat by three goals, including one dropped, and two tries to nil.

At the outset, this season’s team was regarded as a good one, and, although it was considered unfortunate to have lost the services of T. M. “give-the-ball-to-Barlow “, who was injured playing for Wales against Ireland in 1884, another full-back Hugh “Sawdust” Hughes was discovered and he made a name for himself as a splendid goal-kicker.

The rules still allowed for a goal to beat any number of tries, but the need for revision  was clearly emphasised by the results of three of the club’s away matches, two of which against Newport and Moseley, were lost by the score of one dropped goal to three tries. The Newport goal was dropped by the brilliant Arthur J. Gould. The one for Moseley was kicked by a threequarter named A. Smith following a scrummage near the flag post, whereupon, it is described : “the Moseley men took leave of themselves whilst they indulged in gesticulation and vociferation “. No doubt our modern John Billot would have described the incident as a “crowd eruption “. However there was “a large and fashionable attendance including an extraordinary number of Ladies “, who, presumably in those Victorian days, would not have thrown their hats into the air. The Moseley goal was kicked almost at the end of the match with Cardiff leading by the three tries. The president of their club, Mr. Amos Roe entertained the Cardiff party to tea the Grand Hotel, Birmingham, Moseley’s H.Q, in the evening.

The Neath victory was by two goals (one disputed) to three tries, and the Press quoted the points value of the win as 20 points to 13, being 10 points for the goals, and Cardiff’s 12 for the tries and one for the ‘touch down.Three of the players who had greatly assisted in the formation and development of the club, retired from the playing scene. They were J. A. Jones, W. H. Treat, and W. D. Phillips. Jones and Treatt had joined from the Glamorgan Club and W. 0. Phillips from that of the Wanderers, of which he was captain from 1872. Treatt and Phillips were honoured by the Cardiff Club at its annual dinner held at the Angel Hotel on 2nd May 1885, where they were presented with gold watches subscribed for by friends and admirers. Responding during the evening’s proceedings Phillips opined that Cardiff was then “the best team in South Wales, West of England and the Midland Counties “. Both Phillips and W. H. Treatt continued to serve the club in excellent administrative capacity. J. A. Jones was also regarded as one of the pillars of the club as a player and official, one with a readiness to serve in any capacity, any time and anywhere. An excellent clubman no doubt.

The Second XV under the captaincy of Cholton James for the second time now received deserved recognition. An unbeaten record was achieved with seventeen matches won and one drawn; 30 goals and 42 tries were scored to only five tries by their opponents. The Second XV derived much satisfaction from the fact that they beat the First XV by one dropped goal, one try to nil on 1st April 1885, a date no doubt remembered by the premier team as “All Fools’ Day ‘. Top scorers with the First XV were A. J. Stewart with 17 tries and F. E. Hancock with 13. Cholton James was a prominent scorer of goals and tries with the Second XV for whom W. M. Douglas and Tom- Williams each scored four tries in the match against Treherbert in October 1884.

Club subscriptions brought in £71 and £364.2.3d. was taken at the gate, out-match expenses were £46.19.lld. and rail fares £98.5.lld. Players’ rail and hotel expenses were now being met, and there was a surplus of £37.19.8d. At this period Cardiff’s Rugby football reputation had been well established. F. E. Hancock’s personal ability had been well proven. Athletic notes reported that after rain the Cardiff Arms Park was swampy.


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