Cardiff RFC Season Review 1893 – 1894

1893-4. P35, W28, L6, Dl.


Norman Biggs, one of a family of six brothers who contributed greatly to Cardiff’s early history, was appointed captain. One of the outstanding wing three quarters of his time, he achieved practically all the honours of the game, and served his club for eleven seasons 1886/7-1896/7. He was a prolific scorer of tries and goals, and despite assisting Cambridge University and Richmond during his early years of study, made 160 appearances for his own club. He gained his first Welsh international cap against the Maoris on 22nd December 1888 at the early age of seventeen years and four months whilst still at Cardiff University College, this record as the youngest player to play for Wales stands to this day. He was a member of the Welsh Triple Crown team of 1892-3. Sportsmen of his time learned with much sorrow that he was killed in Northern Nigeria in 1908 as the result of a native ambush during which he received a wound from a poisoned arrow which proved fatal.

Under his popular captaincy, Norman Biggs’ team provided another successful season, achieving some prodigious scoring feats, notably over London Welsh 57 points to nil, Penygraig 44 points to nil, and in the last match of the season with Exeter a romp of 58 points to nil. In the London Welsh match at home, Biggs scored three tries and scored six goals, and against Exeter two tries and eight goals. Jointly with T. W .Pearson he was the season’s top scorer with 25 tries: Dai Fitzgerald got 12 and J. E. Elliott 10. It was in this season 1893-4 that the points value of scoring became regularised, and the only changes made since are the mark goal reduced from four to three, the drop goal similarly from 1948-9, and the value of the try increased in 1971 -72 to four points. Under the points values of 1971-72 the score with both London Welsh and Exeter would have exceeded seventy.

New opponents were met, namely, Bradford (H) reputedly the strongest team in the North of England who beat us 13 points to 8, Cambridge University (A), Devonport Albion (H) and Aberavon at home. One of the most satisfactory victories was that over the Barbarians who fielded no fewer than ten internationals. We won 14 points to three. The then unbeaten Cambridge University went down by 13 points to three. The matches with Newport and Swansea were now drawing great crowds of 20,000 spectators. Prior to our match with Newport on 11th November. the club welcomed its Mayor, Councilor W. J. Trounce in cordial terms, and the Cardiff Post Office Band “discoursed some popular selections of music “. For Newport’s match with us on 13th January, it was reported that two special trains, each composed of forty coaches, together with sixteen extra coaches attached to the 1.30 ordinary train, conveyed about 5,000 enthusiasts from Cardiff”. Newport’s gate was about 15,000, and prior to the match, which they won by three tries to nil, musical items were provided by the band of the Monmouthshire Artillery Volunteers.

The Welsh selectors were assisted by six Cardiff players for their international series, namely, Norman Biggs, Dai Fitzgerald. J. E. Elliott, T. W. Pearson. A. F. Hill and R. B. Sweet-Escott, and Cardiff made history by supplying the complete Welsh three-quarter line, for the first time, they were Biggs, Fitzgerald, Elliott and Sweet-Escott, against Ireland at Belfast on 10th March 1894. But Ireland won by a penalty goal to nil on a ground described as the Ballinafeigh Bog. It was said that on a dry day Wales would have won. Ireland won the Triple Crown for the first time. Against Scotland at Newport on 3rd February 1894, Dai Fitzgerald had distinguished himself by scoring all the seven points for Wales to defeat Scotland by one drop goal and one try to nil, and pigeons were released to carry the news of victory around Wales.

E. J. Rooney captained the second string and they won 16 out of 29 games, with nine lost and four drawn, scoring 210 points to their opponents 107. One very good win was that over LIandaff by 35 points to nil, but they lost twice to Bridgend, although narrowly. The Reserves played a drawn game with Cathays at the Barracks Field of the Welch Regiment.

During this season two wing stands were added to the grandstand at a cost of £436.17.Od. and the temporary stands were also enlarged. Gate receipts were up to
£2,478.2.4d. Local charities benefited to the extent of £271.10.Od. and local clubs by £28.8.Od. There was £1,500 on bank deposit. The club was obviously growing into a very
sound and healthy position.

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