Cardiff RFC Season Review 1976 – 1977

Played: 48

Won: 34

Lost: 13

Drawn: 1

Points For: 1217

Points Against: 604

Chairman’s Report

When I was elected by the football committee as chairman of Cardiff RFC in their centenary year it was one of the proudest moments in my life. Now for all of us the moment of truth has arrived we are going to keep the accolade ‘the greatest’ during our centenary season. We have been planning for this for over three years and preparations were now almost complete. Our centenary years first event was a ‘doubleton’ starting with a Cardiff RFC float in the Lord Mayors Parade and the newly formed ladies committee in their unofficial capacity organised a coffee morning. These two events together with the wine and cheese party again successfully arranged by the ladies committee helped to get the ‘social’ off to a splendid start. A centenary service was held at Llandaff Cathedral in conjunction with Llandaff RFC were also celebrating their centenary year. A large congregation heard the lessons read by the two captains Gerald Davies and Ian Miles in Welsh and Barry Nelmes and Howard Evans in English. The Dean of Llandaff the Very Rev JF Williams gave a suitable address for the occasion.

On Sunday, September 4th was first major event, a sevens tournament which included sevens from four countries including the Baa Baas. Other clubs received special invitations including Taffs Well who were the winners of our own District E sevens. I suggested to the committee that we follow the pattern of the sevens tournament they had witnessed at Murrayfield in June, the Scottish centenary year Brain Mark was the organiser and in his own way made to the tournament splendid success. The winners were our friendly rivals Newport RFC. On Sunday 5th of September a golf tournament was held at Glamorgan golf club. More than 26 teams entered from rugby clubs in Wales and England. Ken George and Austin Thomas the joint organisers must have been very pleased with the results of their efforts.

The Irish Wolfhounds XV met us on 11th September and in their side were 10 Irish internationals. It was an excellent game to watch although we lost by 20 points to 9. They brought over a few supporters and most enjoyable evening was spent in the clubhouse. The 25th September saw the eagerly awaited Overseas International XV match. Ken Rowlands was very proud man when he put on the field 15 internationals from all over the world Ken told me that not one of the original selections had refused the invitation to participate in this match. ‘Cardiff versus the rest of the world’ Mr J BG Thomas Western mail sports editor was very helpful with his advice and suggestions.

Gerald Davies had stated categorically at commencement of the season that his team going to play 15 man rugby and they were going out on the field to play entertaining rugby, to enjoy themselves and to give enjoyment to the countless admirers supporters. The Overseas International XV arrived by Tuesday the 21st and had several run outs with John Dawes as their coach. They received the full hospitality of Cardiff Rugby club and were entertained by the Lord Mayor at Cardiff Castle on the eve of the match. Although rain fell throughout the game both teams played bright football resulting in a splendid victory to Cardiff by 24 points to 13. The after match celebrations were held in the City Hall with over 600 guests present the main speaker was Cliff Morgan who was brilliant in his own inimitable way. He had us laughing one minute and weeping the next. There were also speeches from the two captains Gerald Davies and Carrick Faye, Lynn Williams my vice-chairman and Tasker Watkins. All these speeches set the tone of the dinner with the St Albans bands supplying the accompanying music during the dinner and after the speeches. Stories, jokes and the singing went on till nearly dawn the pattern was set, enjoy your playing and you’re after match festivities.

The WRU in their wisdom granted Aberavon and Cardiff in their centenary years the honour of playing the Argentinians. We played them on the following Saturday in the national stadium after the game with the Overseas International XV. At half-time we were 26 points to 6 behind. Then Gerald and his team thrilled us with a startling revival and we lost by just 29 points 25.

To keep my chronological order it was Saturday, 27 November when we played Llanelli at home. We held a players reunion. All past captains were invited to attend a buffet lunch and watch the game. After they were at a dinner with the players who played against Llanelli in the afternoon the lost a great disappointment to all the oldies. For Gerald and his boys it was a great moment when all the oldies were marshalled in decades commencing in 1910 -1920 1921 – 1930 1931 – 1940 1941 – 1950 1951 – 1960 1961 – 1970. Our Patron Evan Davis led the parade being the oldest ‘oldie’ and in all there were over 250 players who marched across the ground accompanied by the St Albans band playing suitable music. The crowd what rose to give them a standing ovation and everybody sang the national anthem it was a tremendously moving occasion and one I will never forget.

The dinner in the evening with all the men of the past reminiscing with each other and all players meeting each other for the first time in 30 or 40 years. Many tries were relived again and many tour parties down in Cornwall were relived. We had a few speeches and some precious memories. On 2nd December we saw the results of the hard-working centenary aid committee and the chairmanship of Stan Thomas Jr and his father Stan senior and brothers Peter and last but not least the indefatigable Bryn Thomas of Aberavon who with many other helpers, committee members, players supporters Cardiff Rugby provided a most intense entertaining evening called ‘a cavalcade of sport’ was another tremendous success, thank you all for your splendid efforts on the night.

In the month of December Gerald’s men played splendid football and a giving great entertainment to all those fortunate see the games. I give below the five games involved

Saturday 4th December Swansea Away W 28-13

Wednesday 8th December NewportHome W 14-12

Saturday 11th December MoseleyHome W 24-18

Saturday 18th December Cardiff Coll.Home W 42-16

Monday 27th December Crawshays Home W 40-16

Another big social event was the club’s fancy dress party on New Year’s Eve I must say that I was sceptical about it being a success was proven wrong with the ladies who work so tremendously hard to make it such a resounding success. The organising committee was made up from the wives of the players committee. Our own Shirley Wooldridge won first prize the lady’s fancy dress just as a gorilla and Spike Watkins for the men’s dresses a Zulu.

In the New Year Gerald Davies declared his objective was to win the Welsh Cup. How near he and his team came to winning it. Drawn away on 8th January to play Llanelli and after a titanic struggle we beat them 26-15. It was a classic game and both sides played Rugby football enjoying it front of a record crowd and the whole match was televised. It certainly boosted the image Welsh Rugby cup football. The next round was against Pontypool and we won a very hard game with them. The game at Aberavon against Swansea in the semi-final was another hard unrelenting game but I emphasise not dirty some of the media would proclaim. It wasn’t unfortunate accidents to Clive Shell.

The cup final was played on 30th April the National Stadium between Cardiff and Newport. A record crowd was in attendance. Newport played extremely well and certainly deserved their victory. Once again Cardiff lost in the final this time by only one point. It was another match played in grand sporting endeavour and was credited to the both sides of the oldest rivals in Welsh rugby. In our usual Easter Saturday fixture the Baa Baas produced brilliant football and we lost in front of another record crowd We finished our season playing a team from Sydney Australia which was a very entertaining game with a victory for Cardiff

In our sevens engagements Cardiff equited themselves well in the Snelling event. Another remarkable achievement is the captain retired hurt after the second round to be replaced by Julian O’Brien a comparatively inexperienced player at senior sevens and again in the final Paul Evans came off to be replaced by Stuart Lane. John Davies took over the captaincy and played successfully and capriciously. The other members of the squad were Alan Phillips and Trevor Wargo who formed trio forwards who were fierce and determined in their efforts to retain good ball or bad for that matter. They played a magnificent part in the victor. The Welsh National seven yet again captained by John.Davies the got through to the final to be beaten by a stronger and better equipped Bridgend team. A strong Cardiff seven could have easily succeeded. In Paul Rees the ranks full-back had to be called up to play alongside popularly Jones and Phillips

We held our centenary banquet on Saturday, 16th April in a giant marquee on the Castle Green seating over 1000 people with the Prime Minister as chief guest. It was a fitting climax socially although I was rather dubious about ladies been invited but invited they were. They gave a grace the evening added to the colour and made it a night to remember. The speeches made by Prof Seabourn-Davies, Gerald Davies George Purnell (Lions Manager) and David Hayward were brilliant in the conception and delivery. There were exactly hundred on the top table including guest of the teams who had first played us and representatives of all home unions and France.

On a happy note in this centenary season I think I it would not be right to mention any individual because everyone, players, committee men, chairman of Sub-committees and supporters. They had a job to do they did it and no words of mine can adequately expressed personal debt that we owe them for their unquestionable loyalty to the greatest rugby club in the world.

Congratulations to Brynmor Williams on a selection to tour with the Lions in New Zealand. We all wish him a very happy and successful tour. To Gerald and his team well done and congratulations on passing the 1000 point mark for the third time the club’s history. To Danny Davis our statistician whose book the greatest history – Cardiff hundred years has now had a second reprint by licensed from Cardiff Athletic Club. It is with profound regret that Danny is retiring this season as club statistician we all wish him a very happy and contented retirement. John Davies manager to the Canadian tour will be taking over Danny’s duties as club statistician.

To Ken George and staff my grateful thanks. To the ground staff and to Mr and Mrs Leeworthy and their staff for helping on the big occasions. My thanks to Harold Richards the club doctors the club physiotherapist in helping to keep our players fit during the season. To our most loyal and best supporter club in the world many many thanks. To Mr Williams conductor and his bandsman of the St Albans band.

The tour to Canada at the end of May and the beginning of June was a very happy one. We tried to play open rugby but were somewhat frustrated by the narrow pitches and the physical fitness of our opposition. However we won five matches in the losing only our first game against the Crimson Tide XV at Victoria Island. The management, captain and all the touring party at be congratulated on their impeccable behaviour both on and off the field. I was certainly proud to be chairman of Cardiff RFC on this happy tour with not one complaint of damage or bad behaviour. Unfortunate I was forced to leave the touring party week early on medical advice. I’m pleased to say much better in health.

In ending this report I must say to Brian Mark I express the wish of everybody at the club for your speedy recovery with all your old fervour. I would like to take this opportunity of assuring all our season-ticket holders that the committee has held lengthy discussions and distribution of future field including international tickets and have already instituted a scheme of registering names to those successful in alphabetical system on similar lines to the scheme which has been in existence for some time with stand tickets, we hope to supply further details prior to commencement the next season.

Brynmor Williams on 9 April 1977 became the 871st selection from this club to be selected for the Barbarians. This is the highest number of selections from the Barbarians from any club in Great Britain and of course was established in the centenary year. This record has for many years by Blackheath RFC is now held by Cardiff. Another record for Cardiff RFC was established in Scotland and Wales won the championship. TGR Davies and Gareth Edwards became than 947 and 948 Welsh international selection from Cardiff RFC and is a record for any club in Wales and maybe for any club side in Great Britain.

Two more records in the centenary season inclusive of the Canada Tour – 99 tries in extended season for the first time the club’s history and 1210 points scored.

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