Cardiff RFC Season Review 1995 – 1996

Cardiff Rugby Football Club

Chairman’s Report for Season 1995-96

Little did I think that this season would be a landmark in the history of Rugby Football Union. It has been an exciting and challenging experience for players and administrators of the game.

The announcement of 27th August 1995 by Vernon Pugh, Chairman of the International Rugby Football Board, stating that the game was to become professional had far reaching implications for all of us, but we at Cardiff were fortunate to have Gareth Davies, Chief executive, at the helm at such a crucial stage and his appointment has been one of the major successes of the season. I pay tribute to him, Nathan Roberts, Jackie, Julie, Vicky, Cathy and Debbie for the professional way they have worked and I thank them most sincerely for their dedication and support throughout the season.

This season started with the introduction of the “Try Bonus Point System” which ironically prevented us from winning the championship again this year. It maybe as a result of introducing the new system that Cardiff set a new aggregate score of 1513 points and scored a record 210 tries, and Steve Ford set another Heineken League record by scoring 21 tries. Congratulations to Steve on another superb season. There must be something wrong with the system if a team, who wins the most games, fails to win the Championship.

Alex Evans, Coaching Organiser, announced that he would be returning to Australia in December and it was confirmed that Terry Holmes was to be his successor. Alex’s contribution to CRFC was immense and I remember the words I used in one of his many farewell parties. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” We are extremely grateful to Alex for his contribution over the last 3 years and we wish him and his charming wife, Kay, all the best of luck for the future. There is no doubt that he is responsible for turning around the fortunes of the Club while he was here. There will always be a welcome for them both at CRFC.

The appointment of Hemi Taylor as Captain of the Club was a popular choice and I congratulate him on his achievements this year. He always led by example both on and off the field and earned respect of his fellow players, committee members and supporters alike.

We are also honoured and pleased to have Jonathan Humphreys selected as Captain of Wales. Incidentally, Hemi and Jonathan were CRFC Development Officers at the time of their appointments. We are proud of Jonathan’s selection and the manner in which he had led Wales this season. I am sure that he will retain the Captaincy for many more years to come. Cardiff are indeed fortunate to have such quality players a current captains.

One of my first duties as Chairman was to manage the pre-season tour to Wexford, unfortunately without Alex Evans, Andy Moore, Jonathan Humphreys, Mark Bennett, Simon Hill, Derwyn Jones and Hemi Taylor, as they had been selected for the Wales tour to South Africa. While at Wexford Andrew Lewis received a call from Alex to invite him to join the South African tour party and I am sure that he will remember that moment for the rest of his life.

Mike Rayer was back in training and determined to regain his place in the Cardiff side by Christmas. I pay special tribute to Mike as he has made the most amazing recovery that I have seen in my lifetime and to recover to such an extent that he should have been initially selected for Wales tour to Australia was miraculous. Well done Mike! Hopefully we will soon see the return of Mike Bennett and Stuart Roy after their injuries.

Early in the season a longstanding tradition came to an end with the abolition of the ‘Rags’ and I am sure many of the players and supporters missed them very much.

On October 28th CRFC again ventured on pastures new by playing Fiji on our own pitch, and, in front of a capacity crowd, we won an exciting game 22points to 21. There certainly was more atmosphere at the ground and may this new trend continue. Six Cardiff players were selected to play for Wales against Fiji with Lyndon Mustoe gaining his first Welsh Cap. What a joy it was for us all to see him at last gaining the recognition he deserved.

We embarked on an exciting European trail on 21st November, with a match at Bordeaux against Begles. The hospitality we received there was so fantastic that it set the standard for all other clubs in the competition to follow and we are grateful to Begles for setting the scene. We fielded a team of 14 Internationals for this encounter which was played in pouring rain. The atmosphere was equal to any International match and the tension was unbearable. Although we had our chances to win, we came away with a creditable draw, 14 points apiece.

Our nest match was at home to Ulster which we won convincingly 46 – 6. Begels failed to acquire the number of points required at Ulster and we were through to the semi-final against Leinster at Lansdowne Rd. Ninety supporters, media and Cardiff Committee members gathered at Rhoose on Saturday morning to catch the flight to Dublin but the icy conditions prevented the plane from leaving the runway and as a result they all missed the match – Airport owners included. However the game was played in gale force winds driving rain and it was a credit to both sides that the standard of play was of the highest order. We managed to win a close encounter 23-14 and we through to the final at the National Stadium and, unfortunately, we lost in the last minute of extra time by 21 points to 18 and the chance of winning the Cup in its inaugural year was lost. I’m sure that the experience gained in this season’s encounters will stand us in good stead for next time.

Our progress in the SWALEC Cup was disappointing with wins against Oakdale 26-7, Penarth 62-6 and Swansea 20-9. Unfortunately we were unlucky to draw Llanelli away in the next round, a week after a magnificent Welsh victory in France. Out team played below par and eventually went down 11-10. European and Internationals were starting to take their toll and the players look tired.

In the Heineken League, we were to suffer defeats against our bogey team Bridgend, both home and away and against our arch rivals Newport. These disappointing displays were to be our downfall and the real reason for us not winning the League again this season. To end the Championship in second was again a creditable performance and the players are to be congratulated.

Andrew Lewis was the next player to hit the headlines by being selected for his first cap against Italy on January 16th at Cardiff. Other caps were to follow against England, Scotland and Ireland. With his selection, Cardiff was now able to select an international player in each position. Congratulations Andrew.

I congratulate the following players on being selected to play for Wales at International level this season. Derwyn Jones, Emyr Lewis, Andy Moore, Hemi Taylor, Mark Bennett, Andrew Lewis, Lyndon Mustoe, Simon Hill and Jonathan Humphries.

At Wales A level, Adrian Davies, Vince Davies, Gareth Jones, Owain Williams, John Wakeford, Simon Hill, Andrew Lewis and Lyndon Mustoe (Rep) were selected. Jamie Ringer, Phil Booth (Rep) and Gareth Jones (Rep) were all selected at U21 level.

The following players qualified for the First XV Caps: Andrew Lewis, Lyndon Mustoe, Keith Stewart and John Wakeford.

Athletic Club Caps were awarded to Steven John and Emyr Lewis.

Unfortunately our Youth Section could not repeat the magnificent results of the previous season but to their credit many players were selected for the 1st XV friendly matches and performed with distinction I am sure that Terry Holmes will keep an eye on these talented players in the future.

It is rumoured that after 17 years with the Club our great stalwart Howard Stone has announced his retirement after giving such invaluable service and pleasure to us all. Howard played his first game for the Rags in 1978/79 season and has since played 140 times for the second XV and has appeared for the 1st XV on 275 occasions playing 415 games for the Club. He was selected for Wales, toured four countries with Cardiff and played many times for the Barbarians. I believe he is now seeking a coaching role and we wish the best of luck with his new venture.

Our success on the filed reflects the hard work done off the field by all or support staff. To Terry Charles, my vice Chairman and the executive Committee, John Nelson, Ian Eidman and Mervyn John and fellow committee members who play such a vital role. I thank you for your hard work, loyalty and support. My sincere thanks to our hardworking fixture secretary Peter Manning, who had a very difficult task this season in arranging matches and to Petr Nyhan, our statistician, for compiling the results.

To Terry Holmes, Anthony Faulkner, Alan Donovan, Ian Bremner, Gwynne Griffiths and Steve Davies, our senior coaching staff. I applaud for the professional and dedicated way you have worked with the players this season and our success is very much down to your efforts.

My thanks must go to our other coaches who work tirelessly with our junior teams, Gareth Jones, Mike Mawn, Hugh Smith, David Williams, Andy Moore and Les Good. Your work is very much appreciated.

I would also like to express my gratitude for the support and guidance I have received from the President, Chairman and members of the Management committee together with the Vice Presidents and Patron Mr Peter Thomas.

During the early part of the season, we lost the services of our longstanding sports trainers, Ron Ayres and Keith Davies, who expertise and loyalty was appreciated by all.

Our new medical team, led by physiotherapist Jane Parker and backed up by new recruits Johnathan Evans and Brian Phillips, have adapted superbly to the increasing pressures of the modern game and their presence at training session and on match days is very much appreciated.

The medical team is expertly supported by our team of doctors, Jim Naysmith, Keith Young, Hugh Evans, Richard Evans and Prof. John Williams; Surgeons Brian Rees, John Fairclough and Roger Evans, completing the team is our dentist Geoff Price. Thank you very much for your continued support and loyalty to Cardiff RFC.

The condition of the ground this year has been exceptional and this was due to the efforts of our ground manager Brian Walker and his supporting staff, Mike, Royston, Fiaz, Ray and Chris. The professional game brought far greater demands on the playing surface and they have proven that they have the expertise to cope with the pressures of the modern game.

Excellent service by Jeff and Betty Ellerman, son Darren and their supporting staff, continued to increase numbers using the club for food and drink. The welcoming atmosphere generated by all has, once again, made the Club on of the most popular places to visit in the City.

Tina and Chris Tew continue to give excellent service to our commercial department and provide the expertise and the charm that is so important to our customers. Tina has used her powers of persuasion to attract many new sponsors. Our thanks go to our main sponsor AT&T ( Lucient Technologies) Laurent Perrier, Nike, Jewsons, Baytrack, Welsh Brewers and SA Brain, who continue to give invaluable support.

A special welcome to our new corporate sponsors this season, ANC, Balfour Kilpatrick, Biffa Waste, Cable Tel and Midland Bank. Our thanks must also go to our suite holders, whose financial support is very much appreciated.

One wonders how we used to manage without the vocal support of our junior blue & blacks and the enthusiasm and hard work of Steve Cannon and Karl Williams. It is a credit to all parents and sponsors that this section is such a success. Particular credit must go to McDonalds for providing sponsorship for the curtain raisers and to Geraint John for his organisation. Our main JBB sponsor, Panasonic, continue to provide much needed support. We are pleased that Renault will continue to be involved next season.

Musical entertainment was provided again this year by the South Glamorgan Youth Band and we thank Mr Roger Morgan for his valuable services.

Our supporters club continues to flourish under the chairmanship of Mr Ken Jones and his dedicated band of committee members. They successfully organised an interesting programme of events this season as well as arranging trips to support the team in Europe. Thank you for your commitment and loyalty which is appreciated by players and committee, long may it continue.

Ken Jones and his wife Kath, together with Roger Williams work tirelessly to keep our lottery draw alive under increasing pressure from the WRU and National lotteries. This is an important source of income and their efforts are greatly appreciated.

Our souvenir shop continues to provide excellent service and Val Davies’ efforts do not go un-noticed, many thanks Val.

Our magnificent match programme with its illustrations, facts and figures, news and views from Cardiff Arms Park and edited by Duncan Gardiner must be one of the best in the country. He is to be congratulated for his wonderful work.

Professionalism has changed the name of the game forever and clubs must now face the future positively or be left behind. Players are being offered lucrative contracts by English clubs and it is difficult foe Welsh clubs to compete. The loss of Adrian Davies (leading points scorer this season) Andy Moore, Mark Ring and Mike Griffiths is testimony of this and their services will be missed. They go with our blessing and best wishes for the future.

Fortunately we have secured the services of Lee Jarvis and David Young for next season and look forward to seeing them in a Cardiff jersey next year.

To retain and recruit players, we must become financially viable and it is important that we have the finances to succeed to Europe and the Anglo Welsh Tournaments. It is with this in mind that our management committee has considered the future structure of the club and various options will be presented to the members for a decision shortly.

You will be please to know we have taken action to protect the name of Cardiff Rugby Football by forming a Limited Company and a PLC.

The redevelopment of the National Stadium will also affect us as the South Stand will be demolished and rebuilt. Our Chief Executive and management committee are keeping a close eye on developments and with the correct approach we have a golden opportunity to redesign the new facility to meet the demands of the modern game.

In conclusion, may I thank you for the support you have given the club during the season and for making my year as Chairman so enjoyable

Diolch Yn Fawr.

John Evans

Chairman Cardiff RFC

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