Cardiff RFC Season Review 1930 – 1931

1930—31 P43 W27 L13 D3 Points 544—283


This was the last season of the club’s Two First XVs experiment. B.R.Turnbull, Cambridge Blue and holder of six Welsh caps, our strong running center was the member’s choice of captain; Syd Cravos became vice-captain. Newcomers who were to make good with the senior team of Turnbull’s were Geoff Babbage, ex-Cardiff High School at forward; G. V. Wynne Jones a young Westminster Sank official who had played previously for Bristol at three-quarter; Emlyn Jenkins a brilliant scrum half from Treorchy who was tried also (and succeeded) at outside half, playing 16 consecutive first- team games before turning professional much to the regret of his club and Rhondda followers; and L. M. Spence who was later to captain the club from the back row of the scrum.

H. M. Bowcott and Howard Poole, our half back pair were honoured by selection for the British Lions’ tour to New Zealand and Australia and were not available for club games until November; Kevin Turnbull’s services were lost because his business took him to London. But what might have been a very good season was marred by six defeats in succession from the 1st January at the hands and feet of France “ B “, Bristol, Aberavon, London Welsh, Gloucester and Newport; in this same period three matches were cried off owing to bad weather, namely with Bridgend, Plymouth Albion and Neath. Our best successes were against Blackheath (H) 25—0, Watsonians (H) 21—0 (seven tries unconverted), Plymouth Albion (H) 31—3, Coventry (H) 27—3 and Neath (H) 26—16.

Our leading try scorers were R. W. Boon with 23 (four against the Watsonians), Graham Jones 18, G. V. Wynne Jones 15, H. M. Bowcott 13 and John Roberts 11; Tommy Stone our diminutive full-back kicked 33 goals and got a couple of tries, one of them against our rivals Newport; in the match with the Barbarians which we lost by one goal, two tries to three tries, the visitors were helped by Jack Bassett, Penarth’s full-back and British Lion on the last tour, and our former half-back Frank Williams, who played in the centre for them. Our defeat by Bristol by 28 points to 14 was the real surprise of the season, but three English caps in T. M. Barrington, Don Burland and the celebrated forward J. S. Tucker indicated strength. Senior club caps were awarded to Geoff Babbage, Emlyn Jenkins, G. V. Wynne Jones and L. M. Spence.

Alas for the Second (1st) XV, it was another dismal season with more points against (Cardiff v. London Welsh, 10th February 1951) us than for us, the actual record being P29, W12, L12, D5, points 147—169. The unlucky captain was Goff Retter, a baker who, after matches, had a penchant for bending pokers and the like wherever he clapped eyes on them. His task on the field was frustrating, there were eighty players tried in his team which he had to lead from the pack. Late in the season he resigned and Tom Burns deputised for most of the end of the season. We could not really field two so-called First XV’s on the same day, and lost to Abertillery and Gloucester twice on the same days, to Bristol and Maesteg on the same day, also Llanelly and Cross Keys, and even Blaina at home and Swansea away. Only six tries were scored by the top scorers, namely G. E. Coupas and lorwerth Evans. The only twelve goals were obtained by our P.C. full-back, Cyril Davies . . . a most friendly cop “ who, on the 14th March beat Penarth on his own by kicking a penalty goal, and dropping one in the very last minute, to the Seasiders’ solitary try, on the same day the Premier XV away defeated Plymouth. Another Glamorgan County policeman, Albert Cundy, suffered the indignity of being ordered off the field at Cheltenham by a referee who resided but a stone’s throw from the ground. The qualifiers for Second (1st) XV caps were P.C. Cyril Davies, lorwerth Evans a wing from Pentyrch, George James a forward, Vernon Richards scrum half, and another wing, ex-Cardiff High School, H. Robertshaw.

During the previous season, the club had been invited by the French Federation of Rugby to play their France ‘ B “ team, “which was to become its international team “, the invitation was accepted and Cardiff made the very long journey to Toulouse by train and boat and on New Year’s Day 1931 became the first club to meet Franch “ B “. We were very well received, it was a really grand exhibition of Rugby, and France “ B “ won the game by one goal, three tries to one goal, two tries. This event, and the season, were unique. There had been rumblings of ‘ professionalism” in French Rugby. and in fact, there was a break in international Rugby relations between the Home Unions and France which lasted until 1947, when, most happily, relations were resumed much to the delight of Rugby men, and I may say, to most all Welshmen in particular. As a young committee man with a dangerous smattering of the French language I recall the journey vividly, a most happy one in spite of a journey involving 1,800 miles from the 6.45 am. on Tuesday 30thDecember until arriving back at Bristol the following Friday about 9 p.m. to stay might at the Grand Hotel where we were privileged to meet one of France’s brilliant entertainers of stage and screen, the late Maurice Chevalier. We were to meet Bristol and in a very close game the next day by two goals to two tries. The France “B” match also unique for one of our brilliant young forwards Norman Fender who took part. He made his debut for Wales against Ireland at Swansea in March 1930 aged nineteen-and a half years, and again against France at Stade Colombes in April 1930. In the latter Welsh n were also Archie Skym and Ronnie Boon, and these three players have the distinction having played for Wales in a senior international before playing against France “ B

Cardiff team at Toulouse was: Tommy Stone, R. W. Boon, G. V. Wynne Jones, John Roberts and Iorwerth Evans, Howard Poole and H. M. Bowcott, forwards Norman Fender, Tom Lewis, R. Barrell, Archie Skym, Geoff Babbage, A. Clarke, V. R. Osmond and 1. Williams. Our captain B. R. Turnbull was indisposed on the day and the popular n Roberts was appointed acting captain. A memorable day for Cardiff was this, and France who also engaged their “ B “ team against Somerset County at the Stade Jean un, Paris on the 24th January, and Devon County about the end of February or the inning of March 1931.

Ridgeway Fitzgerald, one of Cardiff’s committee who was the South Wales representetive of the Dunlop Rubber Coy. Ltd. was given permission to take a Cardiff fifteen to r the Dunlop Rubber Works in Birmingham and play the Fort Dunlop Rugby Club on h April 1931. Amongst officials accompanying the party he included no less a personage n Cardiff’s Lord Mayor. Alderman R. G. Hill Snook, and Mr. W. Forbes the city’s transtport manager and engineer. The “Western Mail “ was represented by W. J. Hoare the regular Rugby correspondent well known in the Rugby world as “ Old Stager “. Hill Snook a real dapper looking gentleman, a benefactor to our city and often admired by the townspeople (the citizens to be correct) as he walked erect, Edwardian bearded, and rays with a splendid grey topper. On this occasion the topper was well and truly autographed and, somebody said, “ baptized “, but I am glad to say that all was done in banter, and a later Lord Mayor of the city. Alderman R. G. Robinson told me many years later that it (the topper) was duly replaced “. A happy day ended with a win for Cardiff by points to nil, a few “ jars “, and a return home the same evening.

This is the season about which to refer to Miss B. C. Filer, known to this day as Babs , in her own right of service to the club established for herself, a part of its history. Our club’s first bar was created from an oblong slice of the lofty gymnasium which joined the rear of our fine old pavilion and changing quarters of the Rugby and Cricket clubs. A space beyond it was utilised by the caterers, Marshalls, for providing after match meals for players, it was large enough for a piano and to hold sing-songs. In its initial period, the bar had experienced four or five staff changes, until, in November 1930, “ Babs s appointed stewardess at the princely salary of £2 weekly. Quite a very young woman, her teens in fact, tall, good-looking, with a decorative taste and many other good atributes. She was to serve the Cardiff Athletic Club continuously until 1973. when, following a period in hospital and home with a nasty varicose ulcer, she retired from full e service on a very well earned pension from the Cardiff Athletic Club. During her vice in the very first bar, its extensions, the old club house under the former north stand, and in the more palatial new clubhouse of ours opened in 1956, she established an unflappable control over her domain and staff. All sections of the club were well truly catered for, but it was the Rugby club and its players and officials, naturally, which claimed most of her attention down the years. Consequently she became known to all Rugby football, and kindred sportsmen, at home and abroad. Her mail became greater than that of the greatest players of international reputation. During World War II h bombs and land mines dropping on the Cardiff Arms Park, Babs, in modern parlance, apt her cool “, when, owing to various war services, few officials were at hand in emergencies. Calmness and courage were needed then, she was surely worth a decoration some sort. I wished I could have given her one. Throughout my long history with the duff Club, I could always count on her immediate co-operation, we have been associated very many happy occasions, our friendship is mutual. Babs ‘ Filer made our club a happy rendezvous for many thousands, she well merits the space I have given her in my effort to write the history of the Cardiff Rugby Club.
The R.F.C. minutes record that two of the Second (1st) XV players were suspended for damage above horseplay in the saloon of the train returning home from Stroud; that Ossie Male resigned from the committee as the result of a misdemeanour affecting the W.R.U.: that some of the lesser clubs were asking to be relieved of part of their guarantees outstanding with Cardiff. Hard times. A complimentary dinner was given on 8th November to welcome back home our two British Lions, Harry Bowcott and Howard Poole.

1931—32. P43, W25, L16, D2, points 451—281.



Our big win in the opening match of the season with the Cardiff & District R.U. by 54 points to nil did not presage a successful season, the results being P43, W25, L16, D2, the points 451—281. Howard Poole was appointed captain and his vice-captain was Harry Bowcott, they were our half-back partnership, the club’s two British Lions on the British tour to New Zealand/Australia of 1930. Our best wins were over London Irish on Boxing y, 29—3, the Harlequins 24—10 on Easter Monday, and we managed 22 points against Coventry and Guys Hospital. We registered three wins over Newport—losing the last of e four matches, but 16 losses were a lot, despite the fact that nine of them were by mere!y five points or less. It was Swansea, under captain Jack Rees their forward, who ally chastened us because they won all the four matches. They could boast of at least ‘e international forwards in their club, Tom Day, Will Davies, Watkyn Thomas, D. Thomas, I Parker, as well as Eddie Long and Joe White: they could call upon Claude Davey, Jim Dark and J. Idwal Rees in their backs.

Swansea had achieved this feat once before, in 1903—04, under the captaincy of Bill Barker. In that far off season Swansea had one of the greatest half back combinations in Welsh international history, Dick Jones and R. M. ‘ Dicky’ Owen. The latter diminutive rum half gained no less than 35 Welsh caps. He passed away in the current season 131—32. From my record of matches between Cardiff and Swansea, readers will note that Cardiff has won the four fixture tourney on three occasions, F. E. Hancock’s season of 335—86, Percy Bush’s unbeaten Club season of 1905—06, and the 1936—37 season of L. Spence.

It is sad to relate the loss of form of a captain, this did however happen to our skipper Howard Poole and caused him to be dropped by the committee, and the acting captaincy be taken over by Harry Bowcott. Poole’s defection made way for the debut of the third ember of the Turnbull family. Maurice J. Turnbull, also J. E. “Jackie” Bowcott both of them playing with Harry Bowcott the outside half. Maurice Turnbull achieved the unique distinction of becoming a triple international: Rugby and hockey for Wales and cricket for England; he got a Cambridge Blue for hockey and cricket. Jackie Bowcott also gained his Cambridge rugger Blue, playing alongside Cardiff’s Cliff Jones at half. Our forwards this season lacked fire, there were also newcomers amongst them to be blooded. The brilliant forward Norman Fender had turned professional, and one of our best and most popular threequarters John Roberts went to China as a missionary in January of the season. D. J. Barr played 23 times in our pack; he will be remembered as having broken his neck playing in his only game for Wales against New Zealand at Cardiff in December 1935.

Cardiff’s third ‘ crack ‘ at the South Africans under B. L. ‘ Benny” Osler ended in defeat ‘ two goals, one try, 13 points to one goal, five points. It was a very good game in which Cardiff gave their supporters much to cheer; their equalising try towards half time was a brilliant effort in which the ball had travelled from Maurice Turnbull to Bowcott, B. R. Turnbull, Graham Jones and finally to Ronnie Boon who scored in the corner from where Tommy Stone converted. Tactically perhaps the Springboks were best, and they were well served by the astute kicking of Benny Osler. Danie Craven did not play in this match but he was in the Springbok XV at half back later against Wales, currently he is ten referred to as “ Mr. Rugby “, the leading figure of the South African Rugby Board.

Top try scorers were A. T. Thomas 15, Graham Jones 14. H. M. Bowcott 10. In the opening match, G. V. Wynne Jones and John Roberts each got three tries and Tommy tone kicked six converted goals. Tommy kicked 37 goals in all, and supplemented with three tries. He played in every match except one in the 43 games. New caps were awarded five new fonwards, Tom Gadd, Ion lsaacs, Llew Rees, Cohn Roas and Don J. Tarr; one went to Cyril Cross one of the backs who got in 29 games. Roy Gabe-Jones our most useful out-half or centre, was captain of the Cardiff Athletic XV whose record was P28, W14, L13, Dl, with 288 points to 203. Sixty-nine players were tried in his team. G. V. Wynne Jones was top scorer with twelve tries including four in one match against Abergavenny. Athletic caps were awarded to Duncan Brown, Don Came, P. J. Fletcher, Hubert Johnson and lvor Williams four forwards, and three backs in Ron Jones, E. Noel Morgan and T. J. Schofield.

For the year to 30th April 1932, the management committee of the C.A.C. produced an annual report. I undertook the report and statistics for the Rugby club and have contributed ever since. The management chairman drew attention to the fact that there was an accumulated liability of £12,000 to the debenture holders in connection with the ground purchase of 1922 and that negotiations were taking place with the Welsh Rugby Union.

The Rugby committee complained about a proposal that had been made by the chairman of the C.A.C. to stage a match in aid of the funds of Cardiff City Association Football Club, the proposal was dropped. It was recorded that the general secretary of the C.A.C. had been authorised to obtain two she cats to deal with rats on the ground.

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