Cardiff RFC Season Review 1972 – 1973

1972—73. P49, W35, L12, D2. Points 63—499




 Gerald Wallace our sturdy and aggressive prop forward joined Cardiff in 1965— 6. He was a product of Mountain Ash Grammar School, and at the Cardiff Training :college was contemporary with Roger Beard, Ken Jones, Gareth Edwards, Gary Samuel. already a Welsh trialist he was selected for Wales on its tour of Canada in May/June 1973. For his term of office he was assisted by Mervyn John as his vice-captain.

Winning the W.R.U. National Sevens was a good start in September, Glamorgan Wanderers, Maesteg, Kenfig Hill and Bridgend in the final 21—14, were the clubs defeated. Barry John had retired, ‘The King is dead, long live Barry John”, wrote our chairman, Peter Nyhan, but the club was fortunate in having the services of young Keith James from Newport, this most promising outside half made a brilliant debut against Cardiff Teachers Training College which was beaten 32—12. His ability was soon recognized as he played for Wales B against France B, and gained his 1st XV cap in his first season.

The most important match was of course that with New Zealand on 4th November, they had been defeated by Lianelli on the previous Tuesday. It was a sad day for our captain who was unable to play because of a broken thumb, but it was a sadder one for the club, its followers and its reputation owing to the rough mauling play of both teams. In the annual report to our members, the chairman, Peter Nyhan wrote—”The game turned out to be a complete disaster. It was far below the standards and reputation of both sides as it could have been, and resulted in an unsatisfactory and unsavoury exhibition which did no credit to either side. It was a big disappointment to players, administration and members alike and we must look to our laurels the next occasion we receive a visit from a touring team.” I can only hope that on the next meeting between Cardiff and the All Blacks the events of November the 4th 1974 can be obliterated with a match of quality and more in keeping with the respective long standing reputations.

On 11th November in France, a day observed as a national holiday, we suffered another humiliating defeat at the hands of the Province D’Auvergne at Clermont Ferrand whose combination included the French internationals Peyberre and Dauga, and the French “B” full-back Droitecourt. It was a final Welsh trial date, we had played New Zealand and Newport within the previous seven days, and were able to field only five regular 1st XV players. Consequently we were beaten by 36 points to nil. To add to our team’s discomfort, the return journey in gale conditions in an old aircraft, caused it to land at Bournemouth after a severe and frightening buffeting. The committee decided to review this fixture.

Our third match with Newport at home in February was won by 19 points to 10, but it was rather a disappointing match marred by some rough play on both sides, and two Newport players Lyn Jones and Paul Woods were injured. As far as Cardiff’s players were concerned, Roy Bish the club coach, on behalf of the committee, warned them that rough play would not be tolerated. The fourth and final match at Rodney Parade was quite remarkable, it was played in a drizzle which made conditions rather slippery towards the end, but never in my own experience have I seen the Cardiff Club gain so much possession of the ball against Newport, and they attacked time and again yet failed to cross the line against a very gallant Newport defence, yet, with about a minute from time near Cardiff’s 25, a kick from Gareth Edwards was charged down, and a Newport player with a forlorn hope of saving the game (Cardiff 6 points to three at this last minute) kicked high and towards the left hand corner with a following wind, and it bounced into the in-goal area where M. McCann had positioned himself. Steve seemed to have the ball safely covered to touch down for a minor, but it slipped past him somehow and a Newport player, following up out of the blue, dived on the ball about half a yard from the dead ball line and scored a try which at the very last fence and in the very last seconds, saved Newport from the stigma of four defeats.

On 29th March under floodlights at home we lost to Bridgend by nine points to seven. The captain, unfortunately, gave away a penalty in the last minute, and Bridgend’s Ian Lewis, the former Cardiff outside half kicked the goal to win the match. This defeat definitely put paid to Cardiff’s hopes of winning the Welsh Unofficial Championship. We were definitely robbed of victory at home over Coventry early in the season. In the first half of that match. John Bevan our splendid international wing was definitely late tackled, and put out of the game. Yet with fourteen men we were leading until the very closing minutes, when David Duckham was given a run down the touchline and had reached our twenty-five where he was obviously pushed into touch. Alas the Coventry touch judge, right on the spot, failed to put up his touch flag. Cardiff lost the match—a defeat hard to take.

But to our successes. We beat Maesteg by the club’s record score of 77 points to 9. Maesteg’s blazer badge represents a legend of four l’s, sad for Maesteg, Cardiff inflicted on them no less than eleven 7’s to make up 77 points. Newport were beaten three times, the Harlequins (A) were beaten 47—8, Cambridge University (A) 36—10 with a weak team, and Pontypool 37 points to ten. In the W.R.U. Challenge Cup we reached the final to play Llanelli, having defeated South Wales Police, Mountain Ash, Ebbw Vale, Blaina and in the semi-final Swansea—at Aberavon. We were more than held in scrummaging, where we were expected to be the stronger. Bennett destroyed us, kicking magnificently all seven kicks at goal. True, our hooker, Garry Davies had fractured a bone at the top of his spine. but Llanelli were far the superior team on the day and Cardiff congratulated them in their great centenary season. A week later, Llanelli beat us in the second round of the Welsh (Snelling) Sevens, by 22 points to 18 in extra time. They beat Newbridge in the final by a record score 52 points to six.

In this season, John Davies created a -new points scoring record of 209, made up of four tries and 81 goals, surpassing the record of 199 jointly held by Norman Biggs 1893—94 and Dennis Gethin 1968—69. Steve McCann scored 21 tries—four against Maesteg. Alec Finlayson 20—four against the Harlequins, Mervyn John and Roger Lane each scored 16 tries—a record number for forwards. Gareth Edwards scored 13 and kicked three goals in 25 matches. Keith James and the starlet Leighton Davies gained First XV caps. Four players were selected for Wales “B” against France “B”, Alec Finlayson, Roger Lane, Ian Robinson and Keith James who turned in a brilliant performance at stand-off half back; Wales “B” won 35 points to six.

Cardiff Athletic XV P38, W33, L5. Points 1,165—400. “Tony” Williams was captain. well worthy of the honour. This versatile outside-half learned his Rugby at Taffs Well School and at Christ College, Brecon. He had already played in 315 games for the 1st XV since his debut in 1959—60. He was a great leader, a real driver, with skill and courageous example. At “sevens” he had proved himself as Cardiff’s captain and tactician. In his splendid season his team was the first to score more than 1,000 points, four points for a try of course. Even so, his team scored more than 40 points in no less than eleven matches, including a points record for the club of 93 to nine over the unfortunate Tonyrefail Club in the opening match of the season at Sophia Gardens. What a spur to other successes, a 74 points to 12 win over St. Davids, Pembs. (A), Llantwit Major beaten 70—13 at Sophia Gardens, Old llltydians (A) 69—12, Risca (A) 66—4, Milford Haven (A) 62—12, Llanelly Wanderers (S.G.) 54—10 and 52—14 (A), Harlequin Wanderers (S.G.)
52—15, Ebbw Vale Athletic (S.G.) 44-12 and Newport Utd. (S.G.) 41—0. I doubt whether any club of comparable standing has ever scored 228 points in its initial three matches as did Tony’s team against Tylorstown, Old Illtydians and Risca. The scoring was fantastic, unparalleled. Seventy-eight players were called upon and 53 took part in the scoring.

Those with most tries were P. Lyn Jones 22, Elwyn Williams 14, the captain, John Uzzell and John H. James 11 each and Gareth Lewis 10. Tries and goals brought Leighton Davies 100 points as well as 86 with the 1st XV. P. Lyn Jones amassed 122 points and the useful looking full-back Phil Jenkins scored 93. Four of Tony’s “Rags” gained Athletic XV caps, Will Attwill, Jeff Jenkins, Don Llewellyn and the young hooker John Thomas. One of the Athletic players Simon Davies who assisted on four occasions was awarded his Oxford Blue.

Cardiff Juniors record was P22, W18, L4, points 735—133; their captain was Sean Grey who led quite a youthful team, channelled largely from Cardiff’s successful schools of the previous season. They played splendid Rugby to score 135 tries to their opponents’ ten. Centre Gordon Pritchard scored 18, flanker Tony Brahim 14 and Tony De Bono 14. Wayne Peckham the young flanker gained his international Youth cap, as did Pritchard and De Bono. The Juniors won the Cardiff & District “Sevens”, ten of them were supplied to that Youth body during the season and Gordon Pritchard was selected as its Player of the Year. They made their first overseas tour, financed largely by themselves, to Belgium where they defeated Avis Youth 56—3, and a Belgium Selection 38—0. The chairman of the Belgium Rugby Federation was most pleased, and remarked, “Never before had they in Belgium seen Rugby played so well at any level”. Praise indeed for the Cardiff Juniors.

Three diverse events must be mentioned. Hubert Johnson decided not to stand for reelection to the Rugby committee. My statistical record of officers and committee down the years indicates the long and almost uninterrupted period of service to the Rugby Club. He was awarded an official blazer in recognition of three seasons of captaincy of the Athletic XV. He has already served the management committee of the Cardiff Athletic well and it is good to know that his services will not be lost as he is a trustee.

Les Spence another of our long serving players and officials, was nominated to become the President of the Welsh Rugby Union for 1973—74. He was a popular choice and did a good job in his important and high office. For 1973—74 he was succeeded by Harry M. Bowcott whose early years as a player was with the Cardiff Club before business took him to London where he has served the London Welsh as player and administrator. Thus following myself and Les Spence, Cardiff Club has supplied the Welsh Rugby Union with three of its Presidents.

The sad event was the passing of A. T. Thomas after quite a long and painful illness. Popularly known as “Akka”, a splendid wing three-quarter, he played with distinction in the period 1928—36, subsequently gaining a degree at Aberystwyth, and then serving H.M. Forces as an officer in the Royal Navy during the war. He served on the committee from 1947—48 until he died, although for a number of seasons he reluctantly resigned to take up a post as sports master at Christ College, Brecon, from where he was to predict that one of his Juniors would become a great player—none other than Tony Williams. Another of our former committee men also passed on, Jimmy Lawrence of the ‘thirties’; and also three of our old players, Police Sgt. Ernie Marsh, Harold Westlake and Tim O’Brien—’Tim the Divil’. RIP.

For Cardiff’s floodlight match with Aberavon, Mr. John Pring a New Zealand test referee officiated. Prior to the club’s match with the Barbarians at Easter time their President Brigadier H. L. Glyn Hughes with forty years’ service, was presented with an inscribed silver ice bucket by our chairman Peter Nyhan on behalf of the Cardiff Club, a nice gesture. The annual re-union for the players of Cardiff’s winning team which beat the All Blacks in 1953—54 was held in Cardiff’s castle. Visitors were allowed to attend, on payment, quite a wrong feature for this annual event in my view. Remedial work on the new club ground was proceeding and the W.R.U. kindly allowed our 1st XV to use its national ground during the month of September.

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