Cardiff RFC Season Review 1895 – 1896

1895-6. P32, W25, L5, D2.


A parson’s son, Ralph Sweet-Escott whose father was the Rector of Penarth, was elected captain for the club’s twentieth season, and he appointed Frank Mills the forward who had joined us from Swansea as his vice-captain, The captain was one of the best halfbacks of his time making 148 first team appearances and he gained three Welsh caps during his seven seasons with the club, In 1890-91, the founding season of the Barbarians, he had the distinction of playing for them in their first two matches against Hartlepool Rovers and Bradford, and also for Cardiff against them. Two of his brothers, Cecil a halfback, and Selwyn at three-quarter, each played for the club for two seasons and gained their First XV caps.

The captain was without the services of T. W. Pearson who had secured a post in Newport as engineer to the Alexandra Dock Company, and he was gladly accepted as a player by the Newport Club with whom he was to acquire further Welsh caps; Selwyn Biggs was mainly in London assisting the Richmond Club, but with the development of E. Gwyn Nicholls, J. E. Elliott, Viv Huzzey a fine wing, J. “Hockey” Driscoll at half-back and W. “Barry” Davies at forward, Sweet-Escott was enabled to achieve another successful season. Of the five matches lost, one to Blackheath, away, by eight points to nil, Swinton away by a goal to nil, one to a Rhondda Valley XV on Boxing Day on an almost unplayable ground, by a try to nil, our rivals Newport bagged two wins.

Concerning the defeat by Blackheath, this club was to wait another nineteen seasons, until 1913-14 in fact, before defeating Cardiff again, On 6th April at home, we beat Swinton by 26 points to nil and this was the last time we played this club which succumbed to the attractions of professionalism with the Northern Union. Newcomers to the Cardiff Arms Park were from Scotland, the North of England and the South West, they were Gala & Hawick, Jed Forest, Percy Park and Barnstaple; the Scottish clubs were beaten by five tries to nil, one penalty goal and six tries to nil respectively. Percy Park went down by two goals, two tries to nil, but Barnstaple in the second match of the season gave Cardiff a close run leaving us winners by one goal, two tries to two goals, but they must have had a very good team as they included eight county players in their side.

The scoring was not very spectacular in spite of double victories over Gloucester, Devonport Albion, Moseley. Penarth, Neath and Swansea. The match with the All-Whites at Swansea on 1st February was notable for the fact that the halfback pair of David and Evan James re-appeared for the Swansea Club after a period of two-and-a-half years’ expulsion by the Welsh Rugby Union for contravening the professional laws. In spite of a try by Evan James and a dropped goal by W. J. Bancroft and a lead of seven points to nil at half time, Swansea were beaten by one goal and a try, eight points to seven before a very large crowd, many of whom had come to see their former favourites, the James brothers.

Viv Huzzey with 18 was the top try scorer; there were 11 from Norman Biggs, and 10 from J. E. Elliott who also made the most club appearances with 30 games. Our goalkicking was poor, only 26 out of 93 tries being converted. First team caps went to W. Barry” Davies, J. “ Hockey” Driscoll, Viv Huzzey and T. Savage. Welsh international honours were secured by Frank Mills and Ernie George—both of whom had gained caps with their former clubs, Swansea and Pontypridd respectively—Gwyn Nicholls, Selwyn Biggs, W. Cope and W. “ Barry” Davies.

The captain of the second team was J. E. Francis, an excellent halfback who appointed G. L. Morris a promising forward as his vice-captain. Sad to relate, Morris, quite a young man, died at an early age in June 1896 after a short illness. The Second XV results were: played 32, won 25, lost 5 and drawn two, with 324 points as against 86. The committee awarded 2nd XV caps to: A. M. Ricketts—who was top try scorer, S. Hill, E. H. Gunn, W. Jones, J. B. Blake, T .Bryant, C. Wallace, R. Foster, J. Williams and M. Leary.

The expenditure of £1,055.18.Od. on the ground improvements of the previous summer was paid out of the club’s deposit account, leaving it with a balance of £600. Again, the causes of charity were well served to the extent of £150 to institutions, etc., in the town and neighbourhood, there were also donations amounting to £32.5.Od. to local clubs. From 1891 the club had donated a total of £2,250 to the various charities. The club had a membership of 1,127 for the annual subscription of 10/-.

Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3