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A pocket wonder from the early twentieth century



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Returning home from a trip to London on October 1 1905, Frederick Bradford had as always tucked away a little present for each member of his family, wife Sara received a large bunch of flowers, daughter Elsie waited her turn and was overjoyed with her novelty booklet in which to collect 'thumbographs'. 22 year old Elsie soon set about collecting the thumb prints of family and friends. The Bradfords of the Uplands, Swansea were first to add their prints and autographs, Elsie was delighted with her new acquisition and set about gaining more thumbographs.........................


Frederick Bradford

Elsie Bradford



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Inside pages. The adhesion mark to bottom right is where the ink pad was attached. Title page first page of 'Thumb O Graphs", a family affair, Elsie, Sara C (mum) and Fred (dad). 


......................................Elsie's dad Frederick Bradford was a Wine and Spirit Merchant and a member of the Swansea Corporation. A former Mayor of Swansea (1895), he attended matches at St Helen's, Swansea and at the Cardiff Arms Park. Joining him on these trips, daughter Elsie took her little book and obtained the 'thumbographs' and autographs of many famous rugby personalities. In December of 1905 she attended the Glamorgan v New Zealand game at Swansea where she met Corbett & Mynott of the travelling All Blacks. This match was played just 5 days after the All Blacks only defeat against Wales, the All Blacks running out winners in the Glamorgan match 9 - 0, this was their biggest victory in Wales. On 3rd February 1906 Elsie was at the Wales v Scotland match in Cardiff where she collected the 'Thumbographs' of the Welsh team including 10 members of that famous team that inflicted the only defeat on the 1905 All Blacks, amongst these thumbographs was Teddy Morgan (Illustrated below), the man who scored the try in that wonderful victory.

The Bradford's were probably at the hotel where the post match function was taking place because on the same day Elsie rubbed shoulders with and acquired the thumb print and autograph of the legendary "Welsh Rugby Superstar", Arthur 'Monkey' Gould, captain of the first ever Welsh "Triple Crown" winning team in 1893. Other famous rugby internationals were acquired on this day including Llanelli's first ever international, Harry Bowen, the man who dropped the goal when Llanelli defeated the first tourists to Wales, the 1888 NZ Native Touring Team. 

Later that year, Elsie made the acquaintance of the touring South Africans. The Springbok side was famed for re-uniting the people of South Africa after the terrible Boer war. The tourists arrived in Swansea by train at 6.00am on Wednesday 28th November and at 4.00pm on that very same day the Mayor of Swansea gave a civic reception for the Springboks, it was probably at this reception where Elsie obtained the 'thumbographs' of almost the complete tour party. The South African tour manager 'Daddy Carden' states in his report to the South African Rugby Union that 'we had a civic reception at the Guildhall here on the day of arrival, which was a most pleasant social affair. The Mayoress and ladies entertained us to tea, etc, after the usual speeches. Then on December 1st the Springboks played Wales, at St Helen's defeating the home team 11 - 0, a remarkable feat given that at the time Wales were regarded as the strongest team in the world. To view the Thumb O Graphs and autographs of any these great rugby internationals please scroll down or click on the links below.









Jon Corbett played for the combined Canterbury-West Coast team against the 1904 British team. He was selected for 1905 All Blacks and went on the preliminary tour of New South Wales, before departing for Europe. On the British tour Corbett took the field in 12 matches, his appearances being restricted by injuries. Played well enough to win South Island honours twice after his return from Britain but did not gain New Zealand selection again. Played for West Coast-Buller against the 1908 Anglo-Welsh team and went on to become a selector with the Buller Union in 1915.






Harry Mynott made the preliminary tour to Australia 1905 before leaving for Europe with the 'Original' All Blacks. Usually a first five-eighth, Mynott made his international debut against Ireland as a wing three-quarter. His normally reliable hands deserted him in the Welsh game, the only loss on the tour when he appeared in his preferred position. However, he retained his place for the French test. Mynott toured Australia in 1907, playing outside Fred Roberts in all three tests. Until Frank Bunce overtook his record in 1996, he was the oldest back to represent New Zealand. He was 34 years and 28 days old when he took the field for his final international, the third test on the 1910 tour of Australia. A brilliant attacking player and also sound on defence Also known as  'Simon', Mynott was regarded as a splendid sportsman. With Jimmy Hunter he formed a formidable five-eighth combination known as 'the Taranaki Twins'. He was a Taranaki selector 1910-14 and an All Black selector in 1913.







Arthur Gould was Welsh rugby's first super star. He was the man who put Wales on the rugby map. When he began playing for Wales in 1885, it was only her 8th international and only two wins had been recorded. When he finally retired from international rugby in 1897, Wales had won her first Triple Crown; Welsh clubs were regularly beating English, Scottish and Irish opponents; and the players who were to usher in the first Golden Era were starting to take their place in the national XV. 

Arthur Gould was 16 when he first played for Newport on October 20, 1882 , against Weston-super-Mare . (His elder brother, Bob, was already a Welsh international.) He had already played for the 3rd XV and just happened to be walking along the road in which the regular Newport full-back lived when he spotted the Newport groundsman, John Butcher, waiting outside the house. Gould walked back and fore a few times and then asked Butcher what he was doing. Butcher replied he was waiting for the full-back but he was at a funeral - then he asked Gould if he wanted to play instead. Arthur said 'Yes' and Butcher persuaded the Club to play him that day. With 'fairy tale' precision Gould ran in two tries while his captain yelled 'Kick, you young devil' 

But what sort of game was rugby when the young Arthur Gould first played? Only four years before, in 1878, Blackheath had introduced wheeling and passing among the forwards. The previous practice had been for forwards to push and maul each other for minutes on end. In fact, many clubs were still playing in this fashion in the mid-80s. It was only in the preceding few months before Gould's debut that backs were actually beginning to pass to one another - they ran and played as individuals normally. The majority of goals was the deciding factor in matches - so there was an inordinate number of drop goal attempts and tries were not given very much emphasis. But tackling was fierce and raking and kicking of opponents was an integral part of play!  

From his debut for Newport in 1882 until his international baptism against England in January 1885, Arthur Gould played at full-back and centre. He played in a good club side and gradually began to create his outstanding reputation. He was initially capped at full-back but success for Wales was limited in the face of opposition that possessed superior team-work at forward, and better backs.

1885/6 saw Cardiff and the four three-quarters under Hancock sweep the board but Gould, who was a supreme individualist, felt inhibited by the demands of the new formation. But he adapted when goals won matches he developed himself to drop and place goals; when tries began to be more decisive he scored plenty of those. In 1887, he was Wales 's outstanding back and he insisted that the selectors revert to the three three-quarters system. They complied -probably because Gould was playing regularly for Richmond , who were in the middle of an invincible season. He was simply playing a better class of rugby than the rest of the team! Although the international season was fairly successful, Wales - reduced to 13 1/2 men - were smashed in Scotland . However, Gould, in the next season, whilst helping Middlesex to an unbeaten season, redeemed himself with a superb defensive display against Scotland .

He played in England for most of the period between 1885 and 1890, featuring in barely a handful of games each season for Newport , because of his work. He then left for the West Indies in June, 1890, having captained Wales on four occasions in 1889 and 1890. But he returned to Newport in time to begin the 1891/2 season. In his mid-twenties he really flowered to play the best rugby of his career for, at last, he played behind an all-conquering pack, superbly served at half-back. Newport were unbeatable and Arthur Gould the highest scorer. But he captained Wales to three defeats!

This did not augur well for 1892/3, but Arthur Gould scored 37 tries for his club and captained Wales to her first Triple Crown. Throughout this period Wales persisted in playing her revolutionary four three-quarter game with eight forwards against nine. Wales opened 1893 with her first ever home victory over England at Cardiff . Gould scored the first and third tries and had a hand in the second. His first try was after a run of over 50 yards. The Welsh backs got all the tries to defeat Scotland and at Stradey Park , Llanelli, Wales just beat Ireland with a try by Bert Gould, from his brother's pass. Arthur Gould carried an injured shoulder throughout and should not have played. Indeed he played badly but victory was the justification.

In 1896 he decided to retire, he was comfortably over 30 but was persuaded to return. He made his 27th appearance for Wales when he captained the side against England at Newport in January, 1897. This was an international record. Gould's admirers then set up a testimonial fund, supported by the Welsh Rugby Union. But it was less than two years after the formation of Rugby League and the other countries declared the testimonial an act of professionalism. The fund was used to buy Gould's house for him. Wales were outlawed but fully supported the Gould testimonial. However, Gould prevented open schism by finally retiring from international and club rugby.

Arthur Gould was a superb all-round rugby player. He was almost an even-time sprinter. He was instinctive in dodging, swerving and side-stepping. But he still practised very hard to improve. He was naturally left-handed and left-footed but after a short time could kick as well with his right. He was a great drop- goal kicker and a superb punter, while he studied opponents intensely to probe for defensive weaknesses. A matchless attacking back and until his later years a deadly tackler. Gwyn Nicholls summed up his contribution: 'Chief credit for the perfection of Welsh tactics (in the first Golden Era) can be almost entirely ascribed to Gould. 

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas) 







Jack Bancroft has always remained in the shadow of his elder and more famous brother, Billy Bancroft. Billy was the player to the gallery, the supreme egotist on the field, while Jack was the steady, no-nonsense, straightforward traditional full-back. However, Jack scored more points (88) than Billy (60) did for Wales!

Jack Bancroft made his debut for Swansea in 'the invincibles' of 1904/5- there were about a dozen present and future internationals playing for the club during that season. In the following season Bancroft made more appearances but it was 1906/7 before Bancroft became Swansea's regular full-back and prime goal-kicker.

It was in 1908/9 that Bancroft received national recognition and, like his brother before him, made his debut because the chosen full-back was injured. Once in the side, Bancroft played admirably, but he did miss several internationals through injury. Bancroft was chosen to play against England at the Arms Park in 1909 to make seven Swansea players in the Welsh side. This selection was based on Swansea's brilliant 6-0 win over the Wallabies when Bancroft kicked a vital penalty. Bancroft converted one of the tries and then kicked the decisive conversion late on against Scotland to clinch victory 5- 3. However, he was nearly responsible though not knowing it for defeat at the end of the game because he was penalised for lying on the ball. The referee awarded a penalty to Scotland which was narrowly missed but Bancroft had been kicked unconscious while falling on the ball! Bancroft had a field day against the French in 1909, converting six tries, and he banged over another three in the Triple Crown decider against Ireland. It was a brilliant season for Bancroft with his 22 points for Wales, he kicked 104 for his club!

On New Year's Day, 1910, at Swansea, Wales ran up her highest ever score in internationals, 49 against France. It was an embarrassing, one-sided affair, which the Welsh players took very half-heartedly in running in ten tries. But Bancroft took his opportunities very seriously and steadily kicked eight conversions and one penalty to set a Welsh record of 19 points in one match. However, the record slipped out of sight, even if it ever registered, until Keith Jarret's epic debut equalled it. Only hurried checking through old copies of the 'Western Mail' on the Monday after the English match in 1967; rediscovered Bancroft's feat!

Bancroft played his part in the 1911 Triple Crown triumph but broke his collar-bone against the Baa-Baas. He returned for most of 1912 and played his greatest defensive game in the defeat by England at Twickenham. He was captain against Ireland but injury cut short the season again. This time he was out of the game until the latter part of 1913, tragically missing the Welsh and Swansea matches against the Springboks. He might have drawn the former game! He kicked the winning points against Ireland in 1913 and played most of 1914 before injury and war came.

Bancroft was not unusually talented, but he laboured long and hard to improve his play. His kicking was accurate but not very long. His tackling and falling were solid but his judgement occasionally lapsed. He would sometimes let the ball bounce before catching it but his courage was never in doubt. His goal-kicking was sure and correct and his 88 points for Wales (47 against France) were a record until Barry John came along. His international record was a good one as the first Golden Era drifted away, although he was blamed by several colleagues for the defeat at Twickenham in 1914, which cost Wales the Triple Crown and Grand Slam. Apparently he failed to mark a ball for some 'unmentionable' reason!


(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)





George Bowen won his first Welsh cap in 1887 against Scotland. He won 4 caps as half back or back in total. During his career he played for both Swansea and Llanelli. Bowen was an official at the Ashburnham Tinplate works in Burry Port and served as the Mayor of Kidwelly. An all round sportsman, he also played cricket for Glamorgan.  Bowen was a committee member of the Welsh Football Union and ran the line as touch judge in the Wales v South Africa 1906 international at St Helen's. 





Harry Bowen's greatest moment in rugby football was when he dropped a goal from the half way line in the Llanelli defeat of the 1888 New Zealand Native Touring Team. This was the only score in the match in this the first ever touring match in Wales by an overseas team. He captained Llanelli from 1885-87 and played in 4 internationals for Wales 1882-86. Off the field he spent a lifetime in education and ended his working career as a headmaster. He was a WRU selector, an International Board representative (1908) and refereed the 1905 England v Scotland match. He was also the rugby correspondent for the Cardiff Evening Express. 









RHYS GABE was seventeen when he made his debut for Llanelli at centre. He played three games and was promptly dropped for not being good enough! But one month later he reappeared on the wing for the club and became a great success. Three years later on March 16, 1901, at the tender age of 20, he played for Wales on the left wing against Ireland.

The story is told that the week before that international Llanelli played Swansea and Gabe marked Trew. Knowing that he was the nominated reserve, Gabe apparently violently tackled Trew, who was the selected wing, in order to put the Swansea man out of the Irish match! Gabe played!

In September, 1901, Gabe went to Borough Road College, London, to take a teacher's training course. He played both for the College and London Welsh. The College were weak at centre so he moved in from the wing, which also coincided with the London Welsh possessing two international wings, Llewellyn and Gabe, and one future international wing, Morgan. Llewellyn, as club captain, persuaded Gabe to play at centre and also told the Welsh selectors that Gabe should be tried at centre with Nicholls. The advice was taken, and against England in 1902 one of the most brilliant three-quarter lines ever to play took the field for the first time -Llewellyn, Nicholls, Gabe and Morgan.

In the 1902 Triple Crown side Gabe laid the foundations of his great reputation. He got an important try in the 9- 8 win over England and two more brilliant ones against Scotland. But in the Irish match he defended stubbornly to prove his all-round ability.

In the 1903 English match J.J. Hodges got three tries but it was Gabe who made them all. Gabe told Hodges to start running as soon as the ball was out as he would catch him up before he had to pass! After the game Hodges said he had received some 'perfect' passes from Gabe!

In the summer of 1904 Gabe went to the Antipodes under Bedell-Sivright where he proved himself one of the stars of an outstanding back division, playing in all four tests and scoring a try in the Final Test against Australia.

When Gabe returned he took up a teaching post in Cardiff and began playing regularly for the club. In the Wales v New Zealand match, Gabe was the man who drew the New Zealand wing and put Morgan clear. In 1906 Gabe played four times against the touring Springboks, for Glamorgan, Wales, Llanelli and Cardiff. The first three were defeats but Gabe and the Cardiff side played superbly to win 17- 0. He scored the final try after a brilliant dribble!

Gabe captained Wales against Ireland in 1907 and scored a brilliant try, but it was in the following season against England at Bristol that he scored his most extraordinary try. There was thick fog over the ground throughout the match and at one stage he and Percy Bush came upon a loose ball outside the English '25. After wrestling with each other first, Gabe set off with the ball for the English line. The English did not know what was happening and Bush further confused them by running off in an opposite direction, shouting. Eventually the players and referee arrived at the line to cheers, the 'phantom' Gabe was found alone waiting for his try to he awarded!,

At the end of 1908 he retired, but reappeared occasionally for Cardiff, after scoring 51 tries in 115 appearances. He formed with Gwyn Nicholls probably the greatest ever centre pairing for club and country, in combination they were devastating both in attack and defence. Gabe himself had a very individual style. His running was very straight and resolute although he had a brilliantly deceptive swerve. His build was sturdy but to the would-be tackler he seemed all elbows and knees, and he had plenty of speed. However, his cleverness and judgement were his greatest qualities both as a brilliant attacker and as a very sound defender.  

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)







Reggie Gibbs played 16 times for Wales as a back. He was a prolific try scorer averaging more than one a game, with 178 in total. He appeared for Glamorgan against New Zealand in 1905 and scored a try for Cardiff against South Africa in 1907. He scored six tries in four matches in the 1908 season, which included four tries against France in their first ever match against Wales. He captained Penarth in 1903-04 and Cardiff in 1910-11 and Wales against Ireland in 1910. In January 1911 he scored 30 points for Cardiff against Moseley. He was the top scorer, with 28 points in ten appearances for the Anglo- Welsh team in New Zealand in 1908. He played cricket for Glamorgan and was a first class billiards player. His daughter, Shelagh, played golf for Glamorgan and Wales.






Willie Arnold played for Wales as a wing in 1 match against Scotland in 1903. Arnold was a prolific try scorer, during the 1902- 3 season he scored thirty-five tries for Llanelli and at Swansea, a season later, scored a further thirty-two tries. He played in the unbeaten Swansea XV in 1904-5 and appeared for Glamorgan against New Zealand in December 1905. In 1906 he played for Llanelli against South Africa. A keen all-round sportsman, he served on the committee of Glamorgan County Cricket Club and was the first secretary and one of the founders of Morriston Golf Club. During his career his weight fluctuated between 8 st 7 lbs and 9 st. His brother Arthur played for the Swansea 2nd XV.





Arthur Flowers Harding, nicknamed 'Boxer; played a major role in the Welsh win over the All Blacks in 1905, but he emigrated a few years later to New Zealand and died there in  1947 after over thirty years' contented residence. Indeed, in 1914 he played for Wanganui -where he lived-against Manawatu - at the age of 34!

Harding was 22 years of age when he made his debut for Wales against England at Blackheath in January, 1902. Wales won a thrilling match and had taken a huge step towards her third Triple Crown.

Harding had had a rapid rise to the national XV, being in only his first season with the Cardiff club. He was a dashing forward in open play, possessing great speed and versatility. In fact, his style of play- in an era of slowish, solid-scrummaging forwards -was more akin to a three-quarter. He could run and pass and was able to kick extremely well. However, he was a solid scrummager and a truly brilliant dribbler. When Harding first played for Wales he was extremely fortunate to be alongside the incredible George Boots and he learnt a great deal about loose forward play from him.

In 1902 Harding played well throughout, supplying a great deal of pace around the field to halt the great Scottish XV at Cardiff and an unyielding commitment to supplying the backs with enough ball to outlast and outwit the Irish in Dublin for the Crown. But the following week Harding was put out for the rest of the season by some nameless Swansea forwards, being 'charged' in making a mark!

Early in the 1902/3 season, Harding left South Wales to live in London. He joined London Welsh who at that time, included such players as Llewellyn, Gabe, Morgan, J. C. Jenkins and J. F. Williams.

For the 1903/4 season Harding was chosen to captain London welsh, a position he also held for the following three seasons. After playing in all three internationals Harding was one of two Welsh forwards included in Bedell-Sivright's British side to Australasia during the summer of 1904. The tour was successful with the so- called Anglo-Australian XV winning every match in Australia, including three tests, but the only test in New Zealand was lost. Unfortunately the side were not good enough at forward, but the backs were superb. He kicked a penalty goal in the first-ever Test match against the All Blacks. Although Harding tried his best, the Lions eight, tired at the end of a long trip, could not match Gallaher's pack.

1905 saw Wales's fourth Triple Crown with Harding ever present and Middlesex, with several London Welsh players, reach the County Championship final. But the following season, 1905/6, saw the arrival of the first touring All Blacks. Harding, along with his fellow 1904 tourists, felt that Wales could beat New Zealand. The Welsh team went into a huddle to plot for victory. Harding, along with J. F. Williams, had played against the All Blacks for Middlesex. Although overwhelmed 34 -0, the Middlesex forwards did unmask the All Blacks loose-head manoeuvre (see details on 'J. J. Hodges') but were unable to create a counter during the game. When Harding met up with Hodges and the rest of the Welsh pack a counter was found. In the game itself Harding twice could have got close to tries if he had steadied himself. However, in the last ten minutes, as the All Blacks swarmed dangerously into the Welsh '25; Harding coolly dribbled the ball out of a loose scrummage and down into the All Blacks `25 ’ before it was scrambled into touch! After the defeat by the 1906 Springboks Harding was one those dropped, only to return as a back or forward Ireland in 1907. Gabe the captain put him in the pack and bush played the Irish off the field. He captained Wales for the only time against England in the “fog” mach in 1908 and played his last international against Scotland in the following mach. However, in the summer, he captained an Anglo-Welsh XV to New Zealand and Australia the tour results were uneven but the second test was magnificently drawn.  

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas) 




JEHODIA HODGES is reckoned to be the innovator of modern forward specialisation and formation. Although forwards in the nineteenth century excelled at line-out jumping or scrummaging or in the loose, there was no adopted or set pattern for lining up for a throw-in or packing down at scrums. Hodges, in concert with George Boots and later George Travers, worked out a system of forward position, which has remained almost intact to this day.

Hodges made his mark very quickly in first-class rugby, making his debut for Newport at the beginning of the 1897/8 season and being picked for Wales in January, 1899, against England, when barely in his twenties. He was not as big as other Welsh forwards of the time, weighing around 13 stone and being about 5'9" in height. He was described early on as a hard-working, good all-round forward but later in his career he was reputed to have developed into the most dashing forward in Wales. An excellent all- round footballer he played in almost every position in the backs, whilst filling in for players who had to retire injured. And in 1903 for Wales against England, when he had to go out on the wing to replace the injured T. W. Pearson, he ran in for three tries!

Boots and Hodges always provided the 'brains' of Newport and Wales packs throughout the initial years of the century. But Hodges was often accused of playing at three-quarter effort in ordinary matches, reserving his best play and performances for the really big occasions.

Hodges figured in three Triple Crown winning sides as well as in the victory over New Zealand in 1905. 1905 also saw Wales's first win in Scotland, which included an all-out fight between the packs! The story of  the 1905 win against the hitherto invincible All Blacks must include the brilliant Welsh scrummage preparation. New Zealand packed 2- 3- 2, with a rover, against three front row men. The two waited for their opponents to get down first and promptly followed suit against the outside man of the opposition, in order to gain the loose head, leaving the other member of the opposing front row with nothing to push against. Before the latter could move, the ball was put in and out! Wales decided to counter this tactic by only two packing down at first with a forward waiting at either side to enclose whichever side the Kiwis tried to make their 'loose head. It worked, and Wales always managed to have the advantage of the loose head. The All Blacks were dumbfounded and it led to a great deal of roughness!

Hodges played against the All Blacks for his club a week later but, despite a brilliant second half forward display, they lost 3 -6. Sadly, 10 months later against the Springboks, Newport again lost narrowly. He played his last international in 1906. The next season he was badly injured. Wales played South Africa without him. Instead of Welsh scrummaging know-how winning the day, the tourists packed 4 - 3 -1 and crushed a totally bemused Welsh pack.

Hodges played one more season for Newport before going to finish his playing days, six years later, in the Monmouthshire League. A brilliant forward and leader he gave so much to his team mates. 

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)







Dai 'Tarw' Jones was a giant of a man for his time, for he stood around 6' 1" tall and weighed well over fifteen-and-a-half stones. A coal-miner by occupation, working in the heart of the Rhondda Valley, he was part of the legend that grew up around the turn of the century concerning Welsh forwards.

In the first fifteen years of international rugby, Wales was not 'hard enough' up front, but gradually the first Golden Era dawned, blessed not only with some of the greatest backs but some of the toughest and roughest forwards Wales has ever possessed. Dai Jones fitted the bill perfectly- big and heavy, fearless on the field, with a strong and energetic 'style' of forward play, based on a terrific scrummaging ability. Jones was lucky to come into the Welsh XV at a time when Hodges and Boots were master-minding the Welsh forward effort, for he learnt a lot.

Jones began his playing career with Treherbert-a second class Glamorgan League side -but it was not unusual for these clubs to provide internationals at the time. Treherbert won the League three times in succession in the 1900s, beating stronger clubs. But it was his performance on his home ground in 1901/2 in a Welsh trial that brought Jones international recognition against England in 1902-he was only 20! Jones played throughout 1902, 1903 and 1905, by which time he had switched allegiance to Aberdare. During this time Jones was also a regular in the invincible Glamorgan county side. When the great match against the All Blacks was played, Jones proved himself a hard, uncompromising player in the terrific forward battle. But later in the season his form weakened and he did not travel to Ireland as he had an intense fear of boats!

His last match for Wales was against South Africa in 1906. He had already played an important part in Glamorgan's narrow 3 -6 defeat by the tourists, but in the international Jones looked unfit and 'over the hill; He did not last the eighty minutes and his scrummaging was poor, which meant that the pack, containing too many 'loose' forwards, fell apart in front of an inspired Springboks pack, It was a tragic end for 'Tarw' at twenty-five years of age. He then played as a professional for Treherbert Northern Union.

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Dick Jones of Swansea was a very good outside half -probably a great one -but his individual reputation has always been overshadowed by the reputation he enjoyed in combination with Dicky Owen, his club and international scrum-half partner. Like Owen, Jones came into the Swansea side after the brilliant James brothers had given up the game just before the end of the nineteenth century. Almost at once the puny Owen and the handsome Jones struck up an almost telepathic understanding. Incredibly, the club champions lost two legendary half-backs only to see them replaced by an even greater pairing, and the title continued in Swansea's safe grip.

Jones was a brilliant runner, who could dodge, jink and swerve very cleverly. His kicking also marked him out for he was one of the first halves to mix running with kicking in offence. But it was his judgement that made him stand out for he was a greater thinker than many players who had more ability than he had. Gradually Owen and Jones were able to anticipate immediately and intuitively the other's forthcoming move. Both were always looking for new ways of doing things -so much so that opponents never knew what to expect of them. As a result, when sides tried to plan a defence, they were at a loss and so apprehensive that they often failed to organise anything. If the opposition did manage to play well enough to contain Jones and Owen, then this would be just another challenge for the pair to raise their game to an even higher plane.

Welsh selectors have always been in favour of playing club pairings at half-back and, in 1901, after Newport's Phillips had broken down in the Scottish match, Jones and Owen were called up for their first caps against Ireland. It was the first of fifteen appearances together for Wales - a record not beaten until John and Edwards. Wales were fortunate to win and the Swansea pair hardly distinguished themselves. Jones and Owen played against England in 1902 but then Jones was dropped in favour of Lloyd, whose form was such that the advantage of club pairing was not enough.

Although Jones continued to play brilliantly for his club and Glamorgan he was not picked again for Wales until 1904, when he proved his class by some superb kicking to defeat Scotland and some magnificent running and support play against Ireland.

1904/5 was the year of the Swansea 'Invincibles' and Jones, with Owen, was at the top of his form. His superb running carved out opening after opening against England, and Wales ran in seven glorious tries. But two weeks later at Newport Jones broke his instep in a club game and he did not play rugby again until November 2, 1907.

Jones returned against France in 1908 and then starred in the Triple Crown decider against Ireland by making the winning try. 1908/9 brought Wales five wins-Australia and the Grand Slam- and Jones and Owen master-minded some excellent play. It was a year in which the pack struggled for parity but superb back play ensured enough scores for victory.

1910 brought a sad final game for Wales for, after taking France apart on New Year's Day, Wales headed for Twickenham. But England beat Wales for the first time in twelve years. Jones and Owen were dropped and while Owen returned in 1911, a serious accident ended Jones's career prematurely.

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Will Joseph was one of the forwards who were the backbone of the early triumphs of the first Golden Era. A tall, handsome man, well over six feet and around thirteen stones, he was the outstanding Swansea forward in an outstanding pack in the early part of the century. The Swansea Club were invincible in 1904/5 and the pack included several internationals.

In the first Golden Era, forwards were picked for their all-round abilities with an emphasis on scrummaging as there was little specialisation and scrum ball, in a period before defensive wing forwards, was the crucial possession. Joseph was noted for his brilliant work in the tight scrums, but, because of his height, he was also very good at the line-out (not that forwards got too far off the ground in those days!). Another essential forward skill was dribbling and Joseph was very adept at it. He could also tackle with deadly certainty.

Joseph was 23 when he made his first appearance for Wales against England at Blackheath in 1902. He had only played a couple of seasons' first-class rugby for Swansea, following experience with Morriston. In the stern struggle Joseph quickly made his mark and was also outstanding in the following game against the 1901 Triple Crown holders, Scotland. He was only to lose his place once - through injury -until after the debacle against the South Africans in 1906 –a measure of his tremendous fitness and form. His physique and power stemmed from the fact that he was a tin-plate worker, which was a hard, demanding job before automation.

When the All Blacks arrived in the autumn of 1905, Joseph lined up against them three times within a fortnight. For Wales, he stood staunchly firm and rugged in the titanic forward struggle; for Glamorgan, he led the 'under-strength' county side with fire and purpose, even taking the penalty attempts; and for Swansea, his physical presence and superb tackling almost brought the club a famous victory.

Tragically, the 1906 Springboks never played Swansea, for they might have been beaten by such a strong side, but Joseph played twice against them. First, for Glamorgan, when he scored the home side's try in a narrow defeat by a badly shaken Springboks and, secondly, for Wales when, although he personally played with credit, the pack fell to pieces. The cry went up for 'old' heads to roll and Will Joseph at 28 ˝  apparently was past it. He was dropped and faded out of first -class rugby soon afterwards.  

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Hop Maddock played on the wing for Wales in six matches between 1906 and 1910. He played for Glamorgan against South Africa in 1906 and captained London Welsh in 1909-10 and 1911- 12. Maddock was employed by the London County Council. He died from the effects of wounds sustained during the First World War during which he had served in the Royal Fusiliers (Public Schools Battalion) and in the Machine Gun Corps. 







Ivor Morgan stood out in any company-he was a chunky, 5' 10," tall, auburn-haired, dashing forward. In the 1904/5 season Swansea were invincible, with a formidable pack including a 'British Lion' and four other Welsh internationals. In the following season the brash 21-year-old Morgan had fought his way into the side that only lost by a dropped goal to a try to the first touring All Blacks.

But in his early period with the club Morgan tended to be overshadowed, first by Fred Scrine, and then George Hayward, both international wing-forwards. However, although Morgan could play the all-round forward game of the time -his build allowed him to do that -he slowly began to develop a new type of wing-forward game. There had already been running and handling forwards and the beginnings of destructive, defensive back row play, but Morgan perfected the attacking, wide-ranging, opportunist, try-scoring, loose-forward style of play.

One of the reasons for Morgan's style was that he played wing-forward to one of rugby's true innovators, Dicky Owen, who was always creating new ploys and ideas when Morgan came into the Swansea side Owen's usual partner, Dick Jones, was injured and did not play for over two years. As Billy Trew did not play too often then at fly half, Owen was forced, in the absence of real decisiveness in the Swansea midfield, to concentrate more on creating openings from his own running. With Morgan, Owen formed an almost telepathic understanding and, as a result, Morgan became a prolific scorer of tries. Time and again at club and later at international level, Owen would dart away from a scrum or loose scrummage, make a half-opening and pass to the red-headed shadow at his shoulder, who would crash over for a try. His record for Swansea is impressive - 1908/9-18 tries; 1909/10-9; 1910/11-17; 1911/12-8. While he crossed six times for Wales in 13 appearances.

The qualities that brought Morgan to be acclaimed as one of the greatest wing-forwards of all time were many. He possessed exceptional speed -an unusual characteristic for a forward of the period -as well as having the hands and swerve of a centre three- quarter. In fact, he played at centre against the Barbarians on one occasion (scoring two tries against an international centre), on another he substituted for Dick J ones when he left the field injured! Defensively he was very good, often 'shielding' Owen from trouble around the base of the scrum, while his pace enabled him to cover and tackle excellently. Morgan could also take the rough and tumble of forward play, and between 1904 and 1912 he was the backbone of Swansea's great forward strength.

Morgan was selected for his first international against the 1908 Australians. He was not a popular choice, but Billy Neill the Cardiff loose forward -had gone 'North' and left a place open. In a gruelling forward battle the Welsh eight's speed away from the set pieces, particularly Morgan's, enabled the home side to squeeze in 9-6. However, the performance that really stamped Morgan as a player of class was the superb display he gave for his club against the Wallabies. Swansea won 6 -0. Morgan played throughout the rest of the international season as Wales took the Grand Slam. In 1910 he scored two tries

against France at Swansea before taking part in the opening match at Twickenham. Opposite him was Cherly Pillman, a brilliant all- round wing-forward, who could not only disrupt backs, but was also a brilliant attacking runner (he played fly half for Britain in a test in South Africa in 1910!). Unfortunately Morgan was forced by team strategy to playas a scrummager rather than being allowed his natural free-ranging game. As a result, Pillman roamed free to upset Owen and Jones and the 'bogey' was born! 1911 brought Morgan and Wales revenge over England, and another Grand Slam. Against Ireland, to take the Triple Crown, Morgan continually led the Welsh pack with surging foot rushes and close passing movements.

In 1912 Morgan was in towering form with Trew and Owen at half-hacks, but the Welsh selectors wanted eight scrummagers at Twickenham so he was left out. On the day Wales were disjointed and England, with Pillman, swept to victory. But Morgan and Trew returned against Scotland and Wales stormed to a 21-6 win, with Morgan getting a typical try. Unbelievably, he was dropped for the Irish game and not recalled against France. At the end of the season he retired. At 27, a sad loss to the game, a man before his time.  


(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






On December 16, 1905, just before 3 o'clock, Teddy Morgan was put clear by a superb pass from Rhys Gabe about 30 yards out from the opposition goal line. He went for the line at top speed as the full-back raced across to cut him off. In a flash he was diving over in the corner with the full -back just unable to cut him off. Wales were in the lead 3-0 which was to remain the score at full time.

In succeeding years it became clear that Morgan had scored probably the most famous try in Rugby Union, for it was the score that enabled Wales to defeat the first New Zealand touring team.

But Dr. Teddy Morgan, as he became, of Guy's Hospital, is not only remembered for one legendary effort. He was one of the most brilliant wings ever to play for his country. Indeed, as a pair, Morgan and his school and club mate, Llewellyn, are the greatest to have ever played together for Wales. He was exceptionally fast, but able to dodge, weave and, most of all, swerve, with no apparent change of pace. His greatest talent lay in wrong-footing defenders by feinting to swerve inwards; sometimes he would do it twice, and then leave them on the outside with an extra burst of speed. He could kick well in attack and defence, being particularly supreme at the cross-kick. His defensive catching and tackling were exceptional and often he would cut across from his own wing to tackle somebody in the opposite corner.

Morgan made his debut for Wales in 1902 and what had brought him to the attention of the selectors was his performance as a guest for Newport at Blackheath on October 26, 1901, when he scored three remarkable tries. Immediately, he had been acclaimed as a future international. Morgan was ever present in the Triple Crown-winning side of 1902.

Injury kept Morgan out of the Welsh XV until the game against Ireland in 1903. He made a brilliant return, racing over for two fine tries. In 1904 Morgan scored in every international and went off to the Antipodes with Bedell-Sivright's British side. As with the rest of the star Welsh backs on tour, Morgan revelled in the hard grounds in Australia and was first choice on the left wing. He scored in the Third Test and seven tries in all on tour. He also took over as captain because of injury for the Second and Third Tests against Australia and of the first British team to playa full international against New Zealand -a debatable choice as Llewellyn was the Welsh captain at the time. It probably owed more to his medical connections- the manager was also from Guy's!

In 1905 Morgan proved his greatness by scoring twice against England and getting the clinching second try against Ireland in the Triple Crown decider. When the All Blacks came to play Wales, Morgan took his place opposite McGregor, who had scored the two winning tries against Britain in 1904. Morgan tackled him ruthlessly throughout. He was also responsible for adding to the controversy as to whether Bob Deans 'scored' or not. Morgan claimed Deans had scored, saying on the one hand that when he got to Deans, he had grounded the ball over the line, while, on the other hand, he actually claimed to have tackled Deans (he could not have done both!). Gabe is generally reckoned to have tackled Deans with the help of Cliff Pritchard and others.

When the Springboks arrived in 1906 Teddy Morgan led Glamorgan against them. In a superb game, after going 0- 6 behind, Morgan rallied the county side only to lose in the end 3 -6. But in the Welsh match he had little chance in attack, although his stern, un-yielding defence was as good as ever.

After this match Morgan only played once more for Wales - as captain against France in 1908. First injury, and then his doctor's duties kept Morgan from first-class rugby. But he scored 14 tries in 16 internationals. 


(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)




GWYN NICHOLLS wrote a book shortly after his retirement. Two statements from it illustrate the man and his play. The Welsh or modern game is essentially the total merging of the player in his team. He is no longer even a unit, but rather an integral part of the whole' and it is the ability to "draw" two or more opponents that a three quarter should most prize. He was acclaimed in his day as a superlative centre three-quarter and was regarded by all who saw him as the greatest centre playing under the four three-quarter system.

But why was he regarded at the 'Prince of Centres'? Primarily he had the supreme gift of being able to read the game and judge what was most required at any moment. In attack, he usually subordinated himself to his wing, being a master at giving and taking a pass, but he could also burst for the line himself with great speed or a swerve. He scored 111 tries in 242 appearances for his club, Cardiff , but it is said he made three times as many for others! He had a superb eye for an opening while his fielding and punting of the ball was always quick and accurate. In defence not only was he a strong and sure tackler, but also he would get himself into positions to halt forward rushes. In an era when Scotland , Ireland and England all played in a forward dominated style, he must have been a very brave man to 'look for defensive duties when those countries -often nine forwards -were on the rampage.

Nicholls was a big and strong young man who made his debut for Cardiff in February, 1893, at the age of 18, after a long apprenticeship with junior clubs, but did not fully establish himself in the Cardiff side until the 1894/5 season. With international backs around him, Nicholls advanced so quickly that in January, 1896, he made his debut against Scotland in Cardiff . He partnered A. J. Gould and they were brilliant together in quagmire conditions. Because of the 'Gould affair' they were only to play together twice more for Wales . But the handover had been effected. Gould who had managed the change-over from three three-quarters to four in the Welsh team gave way to the man who was to be the most brilliant exponent of the new style and who was to lead Wales into the first Golden Era.

In the summer of 1899 Nicholls toured Australia with a British team under the Reverend Mark Mullineux. He played in all four tests and was the leading try scorer on the tour, the series was won 3 -1. He returned from Australia too late for the England game (he had gone to South Africa to try and enlist to fight the Boers!), but was picked for the games against Scotland and Ireland in 1900.

Wales won the second Triple Crown and it was Nicholls who made the only score of the match against the Irish in Belfast by beating his man before handing on to his co-centre, George Davies, to crash over for the decisive try. In the next season Nicholls scored a dazzling try against England with apparently six people on top of him.

1902 saw Nicholls become the Welsh captain, in succession to Billy Bancroft, and the Triple Crown was gained for the third time. Nicholls himself scored a drop goal and a try against Ireland . Owing to injury Nicholls did not play much in the next couple of years but returned against Ireland at Swansea in 1905. He displayed an unswerving brilliance in attack and defence, and Wales had won her fourth Crown.

At the age of 30, Gwyn Nicholls, already four times captain of his club, felt he ought to retire before the 1905/06 season began. But he did not and he was chosen to lead Wales against the All Blacks on December 16, 1905 . It was a titanic struggle but Nicholls's cool leadership in the pre-match build-up and his stirring call in the dressing room helped to ensure that Wales pulled off a narrow victory.

Nicholls, soon afterwards, scored one try and made the other in Cardiff 's tragic defeat 8 -10 by the All Blacks. But 1906 was to prove a sorry ending to Nicholls international career. After leading Wales to victory over England and Scotland , he was unable to prevent his side being outplayed by a fiery Irish XV in Belfast . He should have retired that summer but he played on. He was chosen to captain Wales against the touring Springboks in December. It was the worst Welsh performance in many years and an 11-0 defeat resulted. Nicholls suffered an injury although he tackled resolutely throughout the match.

However, on New Year's Day, 1907, Gwyn Nicholls bade farewell to top-flight rugby in real style. He was the brilliant general of a fine back line, running, passing, kicking and tackling superbly in swamp-like conditions, to crush the Springboks by 17 -0. He then retired. Tragically his health was never good after 1923 when he made an attempt to rescue a young girl from drowning at Weston. He suffered from nervous trouble and he died just before World War II, mourned by all.

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Over one hundred and twenty five years Wales has produced many excellent scrum halves -both capped and uncapped -but three stand out as pre-eminently great: R. M. Owen, W. H. Tanner and G.O.Edwards. Many people alive today will certainly have seen (Gareth Edwards and, quite a number, Haydn Tanner. Lost now amidst the history books lies the name of Dicky Owen -the 'pocket Hercules'. All three could lay claim to being the greatest Welsh scrum half.

Why Dicky Owen? To begin with, he won 35 caps, a feat not beaten until Ken Jones in the early fifties. For almost all the first Golden Era he was the first choice of the Welsh selectors as scrum half and as the side's tactical lynchpin. For almost a decade Dicky Owen took on all comers from the home countries, and notable half backs from New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and stood without equal the greatest scrum half of the day!

He was pathetically small and frail-looking -his pictures show him to be almost a dwarf with a puny, shrivelled face. He was 5' 2" tall and about 9 1/2 stones in weight. It is incredible that he survived so long without too many injuries, as forwards were not too particular about who and what they kicked before the Great War. Owen was certainly a target for 'spoiling; but he possessed an iron constitution which meant he could survive the hardest knocks. He was also a fearless faller on the ball and a demon tackler of the biggest of men!

Owen came to prominence very quickly with Swansea around the turn of the century. He followed the legendary Evan and David James who played for Swansea and Wales in the 1890s. At the same time, Dick Jones came into the Swansea side as fly half and Owen and Jones almost at once picked up where the James brothers left off. But whereas the James brothers used to enjoy playing by themselves, Owen and Jones became the first half-backs fully to combine tricky half-back play with running three-quarters.

Owen was a brilliant innovator, always seeking to perfect new moves and ways of unsettling the opposition. Rugby was almost a religion to him and he was, and still remains, one of the game's real formative influences. While most people were content with the development of the game by the turn of the century (for it had changed out of all recognition from the game of the 1880s), Owen continually experimented to outwit opponents. He became a master of the surprise attack from unexpected situations. He developed the tactics of feint attacks and was the first to realise the potential of a scrum half linking with wing forwards in offensive moves. Here, of course, he was helped by the great wing-forward play of Ivor Morgan.

He was the pivot of play with a swift rocket-like service that some fly-halves, especially Bush, found difficulty in making best use of. He played far better for Wales with Jones and Trew but was still able to partner the quixotic Bush to beat the All Blacks in 1905. Owen was an individualist and expected his outside half to be anticipating his playing decisions. But he was unselfish, wishing to make the most out of others.

He made his debut against Ireland in 1901 in partnership with Jones. They replaced the Newport club pair, because one of them was injured. He had only a moderate game after injuring his shoulder early on. But in 1902 came the Triple Crown, in partnership with Lloyd against Scotland and Ireland, and in 1903, again with Lloyd, only the Scots could master Wales. In 1904, with Jones again, the Swansea pair were brilliant but poor refereeing prevented Wales from gaining better results. 1905 showed Owen at his best -brilliant attacking partnership with Dick Jones against England; dogged survival with Trew in a dirty match in Scotland; superb in defence and in shielding new cap Wyndham Jones (Mountain Ash) at fly half against Ireland; and superbly inventive in attack and totally courageous in defence whilst partnering Bush against the All Blacks.

Indeed the 1905 Wales and New Zealand international owes much to the genius of Owen. The All Blacks played a 'rover' whose role was to put the ball in the scrummage and act as a destructive wing-forward. The New Zealand captain Dave Gallaher was an expert in this role. All afternoon Owen had to withstand the close- quarter 'rough-house' attentions of a man about ten inches taller and four stone heavier intent on 'burying' him beneath the turf. Owen suffered a rib injury and was punched but outstayed the All Blacks. His genius created the movement to break the hard defensive deadlock. He decided to play on the All Blacks' fear of Bush, who had been to Australasia in 1904, by passing to him. However, Wales played a rover as well in Cliff Pritchard, and he was to be used when the tourists least expected it. After pre-match training the move was to involve Owen dummying to pass to Bush and then reverse passing to Pritchard. After 20 minutes Gwyn Nicholls gave the signal in the centre of the field near the All Blacks' ten-yard line to initiate the move. From a scrum Owen moved right then reverse passed to Pritchard who managed to scoop the ball up from the turf (Owen's injured ribs prevented him passing properly). It was three to two and Teddy Morgan outflanked the full-back to score the decisive try.

Owen nearly won Swansea the match against the same All Blacks but his 'try' was disallowed. There were many more triumphs for Owen after this -a courageous match against overwhelming Irish forwards to take the Crown in 1908; a big part in the 1909 and 1911 Crown-winning sides; captain of Wales on three occasions; and a big part in Swansea's triumphal march on the club front. It was fitting that he was carried off shoulder-high from his last game for Wales after a superb performance as player and captain against Scotland at Swansea in 1912, when he was 35!  

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Before dawn broke on August 13, 1916, a 33-year-old captain in the 12th Battalion, South Wales Borderers, was brought into No.1 Casualty Clearing Station in France badly wounded.

He had been carried back after taking part in a raid on the German trenches, which had achieved its objective of taking prisoners. He had been at the Western Front for just over two months. His last reported words were as follows: Captain: 'Have they got the Hun?' Reply: 'Yes, he's all right ; Captain: 'Well, I have done my bit; He died without leaving the Station on the following day.

It sounds like a film script but it is not. It is the official record of the death of 'Charlie' Pritchard. For his part in the action he was mentioned in dispatches. His death was seen to epitomise the glorious sacrifice of the 'best sort' of young British manhood in the Great War.

The descriptions of him in life bear out the manner of his dying. He was like a lion on the field, off it he was extremely gentle, tender and lovable. In his play he was an untiring worker with almost inexhaustible energy. Although not a specialist, he more often than not played in the back row. He played with great fire and exuberance and was a very difficult player to stop. He had an excellent swerve in open play and always seemed to sustain a resolute forward momentum in the mauls and tight play. His passing was excellent while he could scrummage and dribble as well as any player. But his most important asset was his deadly tackling. George Travers said of his performance against the 1905 All Blacks -'he sent 'em down like ninepins. He stood an inch or so under six feet and was about 13st. 10lb.

He made his first-class debut for Newport against Swansea in January, 1902, at the tender age of 19. At the time Swansea were undefeated and had been Welsh club champions for the previous three seasons. In front of 12,000 people at St. Helens, Pritchard and Newport triumphed. In the following season Pritchard was a regular and his club toppled Swansea from their position of Welsh champions. Pritchard made his international debut against Ireland in 1904 after being third reserve!

The 1904/5 season was a miserable one on the club front for Pritchard but Wales won the Triple Crown for the fourth time. However, Pritchard was unlucky to miss the deciding match against Ireland through injury. But he was back to full fitness and in tremendous individual form during 1905/6. He had to take over the club captaincy from early on in the season, and led his club against the touring All Blacks.

But it was at Cardiff that Pritchard had his finest hour in the red jersey. The seven Welsh forwards battled hard all the way against the All Blacks and many felt that Pritchard was the best forward on the field. He tackled and played with grim determination, besides which he, to quote one report, 'took his gruelling like a man; A week later Pritchard, despite brilliant Newport forward play, had to concede defeat to the All Blacks by 3 -6.

In the following season Pritchard played the best rugby of his career and was one of only three who played up to form and reputation for Wales in the tragic defeat by the Springboks at Swansea in December, 1906. But earlier Pritchard had captained Newport against the tourists and, after conceding two early scores, severely shook the Springboks, only to lose 0 -8.

Pritchard was a popular Newport captain but he was not very successful in terms of results. He suffered serious injury early in 1908 and did not return until the 1909/10 season, when he recaptured his form splendidly. He played twice more for Wales, his last being the opening match at Twickenham. He then withdrew from the Scottish match apparently in order to give club-mate Jenkins a cap. He retired at the end of 1911

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)






Fred Scrine played three times for Wales 1899 - 1901. His proudest moment on the field was when he scored the only try of the game for Swansea against the 1905 All Blacks. Worth only 3 points at the time, the All Blacks triumphed at St Helens with a drop goal by Wallace, worth 4 points at the time. In 1907, he received a temporary suspension by the Welsh Rugby Union for using 'improper language to a referee'. Originally a plasterer, he later became a licensee.






W J. 'Billy' Trew has been acclaimed by all as not only a great player, but as a truly creative rugby genius. This must be praise, for he was playing in an era which boasted the likes of Nicholls, Bush, Owen, Gabe, Vile, Dick Jones and W. J. Bancroft.

He was a slightly built, frail, ghost-like figure -around 5' 8" tall and under 11 stones in weight. He suffered numerous injuries during his career but always seemed able to recover very quickly. So much so that his career spanned some sixteen years with his club and fourteen seasons for his country. He also retired from playing about ten times -and returned!

Trew made his first appearance for Swansea at 17 against Penarth in October, 1897, and immediately made his mark. He played most of his early rugby for club and country on the wing, but later he was to prove himself even better as a centre or fly- half. The 1898/9 season saw Swansea emerge as Welsh Club Champions, a title only lost once in the following six seasons. It was an incredible phase of domination, especially as Cardiff and Newport were so powerful at the time. Trew became the most prolific try-scorer in Wales- 33 in 1898/9 and 31 in 1899/1900. Not surprisingly, he was selected to play for Wales against England on January 6, 1900- the dawn of the first Golden Era. He did not have an outstanding international season but scored a try against England.

After being injured during 1900/01 and 1901/2 Trew was unable to break back into the national XV- the likes of  Llewellyn, Morgan, Gabe and Nicholls were in situ. In fact, before Trew, established himself in 1907, he only played three internationals! And his form in those games was disappointing, especially as he had scored 128 points including 29 tries for his club in 1903/4, and 1904/5 had seen him as an integral part of the Swansea ‘Invincibles’.

He was elected captain of the Swansea club for 1906/7, a position he retained for the following four seasons and made it six in 1912/13. Injury prevented Trew from turning out for Wales against the Springboks, but after that disastrous defeat he took over at fly-half against England. It was a crushing victory by 22 points to nil and Trew at last played to his ability at international level. In the following match against Scotland he captained Wales for the first time and it was the last time that Wales fielded eight backs and seven forwards. Wales lost with fourteen men. However, he withdrew from the Irish match, apparently because he disagreed with a suspension handed out to a team-mate by the WRU.!

1908 saw Trew at centre with Gabe and the first Grand Slam. He scored tries against England, Scotland and France while his wing, Reggie Gibbs, got six in the four matches. The following season, 1908/9, Trew  as captain for all five games. It brought the Triple Crown, the Grand Slam and a victory over the touring Australians. Trew played alongside Jack Jones (Newport) in the centre. Against Australia Trew was kicked on the head but returned to direct his side’s victory after treatment. Two weeks later Trew led his club superbly in defeating the tourists. Earlier in the Golden Era the captaincy had been passed around for the honour, but once in harness, Trew was the acknowledged leader and master-minded triumph after triumph. Although beaten at forward in 1909 by England and Scotland the Welsh backs created enough to get through. Trew himself got three tries against France and one in the final match against Ireland.

In 1910 Wales lost for the first time since 1898 to England on the occasion of the opening of the Twickenham ground. The Twickenham 'bogey' had started, and Wales, for once, could not finish off the chances that were offered. At the age of 31, Billy Trew led Wales in the 1911 campaign to a third Grand Slam. It was his greatest piece of leadership for Wales and he did it as fly-half to Dicky Owen! In fact, Trew's versatility was incredible -he played indifferent Triple Crown years as wing, centre and fly- half! Although 1911 owed much to Cardiff's all-international three-quarter line, it was Trew's brilliant tactical and strategic captaincy in the close fought victories over England and Ireland that was decisive.

In 1912 Trew was absent from Twickenham through injury, but he watched the match and landed himself in court for being drunk and disorderly in the Strand. He returned to be carried shoulder-high after a crushing victory over Scotland, but both he and Owen preferred to play for their club and missed the last two internationals of the season!

In 1912/13, he led his club from centre against the touring Springboks. Swansea led by a try to nil at half-time after playing with the wind. In the second half - for a time with 14 men - Swansea defended brilliantly against foot rushes and passing  movements. Trew marshalled the defence, sometimes pulling out three forwards to play as backs! It worked -Swansea held on to win. This was incredible for he had been reported as suffering a slight nervous breakdown two weeks earlier! On the strength of this, he was recalled to lead a very inexperienced Welsh side in Edinburgh, and Wales snatched a surprise victory. He then went on to Paris where Wales won, but Trew, very ill with a groin injury he suffered in the game, had played his last international.

Billy Trew was a superb individual player with a brilliant swerve and dummy. And, although he was so slightly built, he was a courageous defender who could time his tackles superbly. In his early days as a wing he was brilliant at scoring corner tries. As a midfield creator he was a true genius, for his greatest talent was superb combination with those around him. He had incredible timing and execution in his passing. Trew also had a lot of speed, for he had been a junior sprinter of some note.

A boilermaker by trade and later a publican, he was to die tragically early in the mid -twenties. 


(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)








TOMMY VILE was an international in three spheres: as a player, referee and administrator. His playing career extended from 1900 to 1921. He began refereeing soon after and in no time at all became the most popular and best referee in Britain. After World War II he represented Wales on the International Board for seven years before becoming President of the WRU. in 1955. If that was not enough, he was also a J .P., a successful businessman, and a High Sheriff of Monmouthshire! Vile took part in the Newport trials in September, 1900, a few days past his seventeenth birthday. He was not very tall with a very slight build, He was chosen for the thirds as a forward after the trial! He duly played but his luck was in. The captain and scrum half got injured and Vile had to substitute for him. And there he stayed, making his first-class debut for Newport in 1902. The 1903/4 season saw Vile establish himself as the regular scrum half for his club. He was only 20 but he was invited to tour the Antipodes during the summer of 1904. He played extremely well and became the test scrum half for the Second and Third Tests in Australia and the New Zealand international.

But Vile had to wait until January, 1908, before he played for Wales. However, he had a superb game for Newport against the All Blacks in 1905 when Newport only lost by 3- 6. During this time, because of his lack of stature, Vile often suffered injuries and he was missing for long periods,

Owen and Jones were both injured during 1907 and leading into 1908, so Vile was called up with Bush for his first Welsh cap. The game was against England but it should never have been played, as fog descended an hour before kick-off reducing visibility to well below 50 yards! Vile was in a terribly nervous state before the kick- off as he was certain that the match would be postponed and Owen would be fit for the following game! The game was a thrilling tussle. Vile played against Scotland, but for the match v, Ireland Owen and Jones were fit and the selectors would have had to choose between them and Bush and Vile, but unfortunately Bush was injured so the Swansea pair returned. Vile took on the captaincy of his club in 1909 and his talent really flowered, He was a superb initiator of attacks, constantly thinking about the game and practising to improve his own and his side's play. He was a master of the reverse pass and combined brilliantly at half-back with his club partner, Walter martin. Vile provided subtle brilliance and superb judgement, whereas Martin was the elusive runner and master support player. Vile was a great tactician, creating so much for others, but he could also kick beautifully, as well as being able to drop some extremely good goals. His defensive saving and tackling were invaluable.

He led Newport to the Club Championship in 1911/12, by imbuing the side with a dogged determination and grim resolution never to give up.

With Owen and Trew declining to play in 1912, Vile and Martin deputised against Ireland and France, but were unable to reproduce their club form. However, Vile and Martin were brilliant in October, 1912, as Newport outplayed the Springboks to win 9- 3, and he was chosen to lead Wales against the tourists. Wales deserved to draw -but had to accept defeat by 0- 3 in the mud. Vile played his worst game for Wales against England in 1913 and was dropped. To general surprise, eight years later, he was recalled to captain Wales against Scotland at Swansea in 1921 at the age of 37 1/2 ! The occasion was too much for him (he was in tears before the game) but Wales only lost narrowly. Vile's last game for Newport was in the famous all-international XV against Bristol !

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)








Harry Watkins captained Llandovery in 1898-99 and Llanelli in 1904-05. His first Welsh cap was against Scotland in 1904, he went on to gain 6 in total, scoring one try. He spent a number of years in Canada and in November 1913, aged 38 years 2 months, captained Victoria, (the British Columbia rugby club) against New Zealand. Returning to Carmarthenshire, Watkins served on the County Council and was Chief of the Fire Brigade in Llandovery. He also played cricket and hockey for Carmarthenshire. He currently has a pub named after him in Llanelli.











Jack Williams was everywhere ! No piece of turf remained untrodden as the London Welshman harassed the All Blacks and played his part in Wales’ greatest victory. Five days later he lined up in the 9 – 0 defeat for Glamorgan against the same tourists. He won a total of 4 caps for Wales, his last against South Africa in 1906. Williams captained London Welsh in 1907-08 and toured Australia and New Zealand in 1908 with the Anglo-Welsh (British Lions) touring team. He died only 28 years old in 1911 while in the Colonial Service in Nigeria after contracting black water fever.






BERT WINFIELD was an excellent full- back in a period of many good players. He did not make his debut for Wales until the Irish match in March, 1903, some four-and-a-half seasons after he began playing for Cardiff . Initially, the great Billy Bancroft was finishing his great run and was succeeded by J. Strand Jones. However, Winfield's form was so good that eventually he was picked to replace Strand Jones. But not until after he had missed an English trial through injury! Although born in Nottingham he eventually decided to play for the country where he was earning a living, Wales . Winfield has always stood slightly in the shadow of the Golden Era. because he was not a spectacular or flashy player. His play was soundness itself, based on an uncanny brilliance as a punter of the ball He copied 'Billy' Bancroft's ability to impart some spin on the hall ill kicking it which meant that it would almost invariably fade into touch at the end of a forty or fifty-yard flight. Winfield had a good pair of hands and rarely failed to punish with interest speculative kicks ahead by the opposition. Winfield was an excellent goal kicker, although he failed to convert many tries for Wales simply because a lot of internationals before World War I were played in a gale or on a quagmire. It is recorded that when he stepped up to convert Cardiff 's last try (touched down under the posts) against the Springboks in 1907, the wind was so strong that it blew the conversion kick back before it reached the cross-bar! Bert Winfield's second match for Wales was against England at Leicester in January, 1904. It was an exciting match and the score stood at 14 -10 to England at almost full time when a Welsh forward, Joseph, marked just on half -way. As was the custom at the time, the maker of the mark did not have to take the kick, so Winfield stepped up. He went for the goal and four points. It was a superb kick which cleared the upright and drew the game for Wales . Later that season, however, Winfield was at fault against Ireland when he waited for the bounce (which was one of his occasional faults) and the Irish winger took the ball instead to score a try, the conversion of which

won the game for Ireland . He did not play for Wales in the 1904/5 season due to injury, but returned to the national side against the all-conquering New Zealanders in December, 1905. The story of the 'secret' move is well known but less well known is the brilliant play of Winfield in the match. L. W. T. Collins was of the opinion that it was his play that turned the match in Wales 's favour. Apparently, whereas the New Zealand full-back kicked to the open side, thus wearing down his own forwards, Winfield nursed his own pack through supremely long and accurate touch finding from any angle or position. This was essential because Wales , after they had scored, chose to play a  close, tight game and accordingly were mostly on the defensive during the second half. The All Blacks regarded Winfield as the best full-back that they faced during the tour.

Winfield managed to kick three goals in the Wales v England match at Bristol in 1908. This was a minor miracle as the game was played in thick fog! He also captained Wales in Belfast as Wales went for the Triple Crown in March of that year. In a tight game, with the Irish forwards dominant, the Welsh defence held firm until two tries were snatched to take the Crown very late on for the fifth time.

His last international was against Australia the following season when, late in the game, he made victory safe for Wales with a brilliant penalty kick from near the touch-line. He scored 50 points in fifteen internationals and retired at the end of the 1908/9 season to work as one half of the Winfield and Nicholls laundry firm.  

(Text from "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" by Wayne Thomas)



The complete Springbok tour party apart from 'Paddy' Carolin and 'Boy' de Villiers have entered their Thumb-o-graphs. 





J. CECIL CARDEN (Eastern Province), the manager of the team, is a son of the late Major-General Carden, and came out to Port Elizabeth over twenty years-ago. He was then a very keen young sportsman, being a capital Rugby football player, a keen cricketer, and all-round athlete. He entered a commercial house there, and after a brief period went to Messrs. Blaine & Co., of which firm he subsequently became, and is now, a partner. Young Carden recognised that athletic exercises were the best recreation for a business man, and threw himself heart and soul into what may be called "the national sport of the country"-Rugby football. He joined the Crusaders, of whom he was soon the skipper, and held that position from 1890 to 1894. He captained the Eastern- Province team at Cape Town at the Currie Cup Tournament in 1895, but, after that, retired from active participation in the game, and restricted his usefulness to work on the Council of the Union, where his common sense, sound advice and business ability rendered him a very valuable member; and this was recognised when he was elected President of the Eastern Province Rugby Union. In 1904 he accompanied the team to East London as manager, and at the meeting of the Rugby Board there was elected chairman. His ability to guide and control the different factors at the meeting, his great tact, and sound common sense, deeply impressed all those present. After Mr. Smuts declined the position of manager of the South African team, Mr. Carden was approached, and consented to stand, and at the meeting of the Rugby Board, during the tournament held at Johannesburg in 1906, he was unanimously elected to the post of manager. How wise that choice was the present tour has proved. He has been literally and truly" guide, philosopher and friend" to the team. His ready tact, his thorough knowledge of the game, both from a player's and a coach's point of view, and his wonderful intuition, enabled him to render invaluable service, both on and off the field; whilst his sound business ability, combined with his experience as a man of the world, made him the ideal manager in his dealings with the British Unions; and his ability as a clever and tactful speaker was the keynote of the success of the team at social functions. In a few words, "the success of the team, both sporting and social, has been in a very large measure due to Mr. J. Cecil Carden."  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






Paul J. Roos (Stellenbosch, Western Province and South Africa ) was born in Stellenbosch in 1878, and is one of the best footballers that centre has produced. As a captain, he possesses all the qualities that a person who occupies that responsible position requires. A man of strong character, with high principles, he combines with the natural powers of command, a fine presence, a splendid knowledge of the game, which he always makes full use of, and ready tact, thus gaining the respect alike of his own men and that of his opponents. It is these qualities which have in the present tour made it the success it has proved, and have gained him a place in the football world that no man outside England has ever attained, and that not even Gallagher, the highly respected and clever captain of the All Blacks, obtained. His control over his men, both on and off the field, his ability to say and do the right thing at the right moment, has rendered him exceedingly popular in England, and has conduced not a little to the better understanding' of the Afrikander character, and to increase the respect for the Afrikander nation as a whole. He is a typical forward, who can combine with thoroughly honest scrumming the ability to do well in the open. He is 5 feet 11 inches in height, although he does not look it, and weighs, fit and well, 14 stone 4 pounds, and is one mass of muscle and sinew. As a scrummager, in my opinion, he has no equal in South Africa. A heavy man, he uses every ounce of his weight in shoving in the scrum, and one can usually see where the ball is by watching for his black bullock-like head, for he does not wear a cap, but simply a piece of black ribbon round his forehead and over his ears. He literally forces his way through the scrum. To see him dribbling the ball down the field is a sight to be remembered, for it usually results in something tangible. While he works earnestly in the scrum, he is a demon to follow, and tackles with wonderful determination. Such is his ability that he was selected for the present tour without having taken part in the Currie Cup Tournament. He was educated at Victoria College, and in 1897 assisted the third team, in 1898 the second, and in 1899 he was a prominent figure in the first team. In 1900, when there was no football at Stellenbosch, with PO Nel he threw in his lot with the Villagers, and was at that time one of the best, if not the best, forward in that team. In 1901 he rejoined Stellenbosch, and did very well for that team. In 1902 he captained them, and from that time-save for a brief period when he was resident in Pretoria, he has led the team with great success. In the early part of 1903 he played for Stellenbosch; but left before the English team played in the Transvaal, otherwise he would have represented that centre against them. As it was, he played for Western Province and South Africa in Cape Town. From that time he has been the finest forward in South Africa. He was the mainstay of the forward division of the Stellenbosch team which toured the Transvaal in 1904, and was specially brought down by the Western Province to represent them in the Currie Cup Tournament at East London in their important matches. In 1905 he was the finest forward in the Western Province, and held his position in 1906, whilst in the team at Home he was the best forward on the South African side, and always set his men an excellent example, besides controlling the pack in a masterful manner.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






ARTHUR R BURMEISTER (Hamiltons and Western Province) is the only member of the celebrated Hamiltons Club in the team. He is twenty-two years of age, stands 5 feet 11 inches in height and weighs 13 stone 4 pounds. He is an excellent custodian, is fairly fast, tackles well, and possesses weight and strength to stop the biggest and heaviest men. When he tackles he goes right at his man, and usually collars low. He is a splendid kick, and although he has not got the length that Joubert has, he is an almost certain touch finder; he fields very accurately, and is not easily hustled. All his football has been learned in the Western Province and in Capetown. He has played for the Hamiltons since 1900, figuring first in their third string, then in the second, gaining first team honours in 1902, when towards the end of the season he took Gus  Solomon's place. He learned his knowledge of full back play under two capital masters of the game Eldie Allen, one of the finest full backs the Western Province has brought out, and Gus Solomon, who made up for his lack of inches by his cleverness and wonderful kicking powers. It was on the retirement of the latter that Burmeister gained his place in the Hamiltons. In 1904 he was chosen to represent the Western Province at the tournament at East London, and played a sound, plucky game, his huge kicking saving the team a lot. In 1906 he was selected as second back, and played very well in the few matches in which he took part, his fielding and tackling being smart. He was not originally selected for the South African team, but, on Joubert declining, he was given his place. In the tour he did very well until he broke his collar-bone at Taunton. Towards the end of the tour he turned out again, and still proved very safe and sure.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






JACOB DANIEL KRIGE, better known as "Japie," was born in the Paarl district in 1879, so that at the present time he is only twenty-seven years of age. Plucky, strong, tricky and fast, young' Krige took to Rugby football at a very early age, and in a centre noted for its fine players he soon came to the front. Before he was sixteen years of age, emulating the deeds of another well-known little man, Ben Duff, he was already playing three-quarter for Caledon, a team noted for the strength of its forwards, and his name was then even mentioned as one of the coming players. In 1896 he went to Victoria College, Stellenbosch, and although small and slight, he gained his place in the second fifteen, and by sheer merit and brilliance worked his way into the first fifteen, and was chosen to play for Stellenbosch in the final for the Grand Challenge Cup of the Western Province Rugby Union that year. At that time it was difficult to conceive anyone more unlike a champion player. He was seventeen years of age, and looked barely fifteen; he was about 5 feet 4 inches in height, slight in figure, but still well set up, with sturdy limbs on him, and a small, round boyish face, whose head was covered with flaxen hair; he turned the beam just over eight stone. In 1897 he set the seal of fame upon his name; his wonderful pace and dodging powers, his splendid and judicious kicking, and his plucky tackling rendered him one of the most dangerous attacking players in South Africa, and at the same time a very safe, sound player. He rarely played in a match but that he scored, and that although he was always well marked. Although so young, he represented the Western Province that year in the tournament at Port Elizabeth, when Western Province again won the Currie Cup. In the same year he assisted Stellenbosch when they won the Grand Challenge Cup, and took no small share in that victory. In 1898 he was in his prime, and his name was a household word in South African Rugby football. He was a member of the Stellenbosch team which visited the Rand under the captaincy of CV Nel, and which gave a most brilliant exposition, the only team to defeat them being the Diggers. The play of the right wing, two midgets, JD Krige and JS Macdonald, was most brilliant. The same year he played for the second time in the Currie Cup Tournament for the Western Province. In 1899 he again assisted Victoria College and Stellenbosch Club, and played as brilliantly as ever-sound, clear judgment gained by experience, adding to his efficiency. Then he left Victoria College and threw in his lot with the Gardens for a season. In 1901 he played but little football, being domiciled at Caledon, and, although he assisted the local club occasionally, his health at the time was not too good. The rest apparently did him good, for when, in the season of 1902, he again turned out for Stellenbosch, he played magnificently. He was stronger and heavier than heretofore, and his pace was in no manner diminished-in fact, he was playing better than at any time in his career. He did not score quite as freely as he did in 1897, 1898 and 1899, but, what was more important, he was instrumental in his colleagues scoring, and he was undoubtedly the cleverest centre in South Africa. In 1903 he added to his great laurels already obtained. He assisted Stellenbosch in winning the Town and Grand Challenge Cups of the Western Province Union; he played for the town clubs of the Western Province twice, and for South Africa twice against the third English team to visit South Africa; and the visitors to this country proclaimed him to be the trickiest and most versatile three-quarter in the world. In 1904 Stellenbosch again won the cup, and for a second time he was in the Stellenbosch team to visit the Rand under the captaincy of Paul Roos, and again he displayed splendid form, although it was noticeable that he was nothing like so daring as when he was on the Rand in 1898; the youthful fire was missing, but his play was as finished as ever. In the same year he again represented the Western Province in the Currie Cup, this time at East London, and there is no doubt that his play, in combination with that incomparable wing, JA Loubser, led to the Western Province winning the tournament. In 1905, for the third time in succession, he again assisted Stellenbosch to win the Grand Challenge Cup. In 1906 he was still playing for Stellenbosch, and was again selected to play for the Western Province in the Currie Cup Tournament played in the Transvaal. His play was not up to the high standard of 1898, 1902 and 1903, but he played a very sound game, and he had a hand in scoring the try which enabled Western Province to defeat Transvaal. He was not in the best of health when he left South Africa, but the complete change has done him a world of good, and when once he became acclimatised he played as brilliantly as when at the height of his career. His play in the different internationals was exceptionally brilliant-there was all his old finesse, his old cleverness and trickiness, and his saving play was better than at any period of his long career. He possesses exceptional speed on the flat, but it is not his great speed that is the factor in his play as much as the lightning-like pace at which he starts; the intuitive way in which he divines how the opposing backs intend to stop him, and his instantaneous 'avoidance of the tackle; and the marvellous way in which he draws the defence before passing. He is not, perhaps, the fine tackler and wonderful kick that Percy Jones and Ferdy Aston were at their best, neither could he race through the opposition as could Tom Hepburn and MC van Buuren in their palmy days, nor could he control a back division as could Colin Duff, but he could make an opening such as not one of them could do, and he could score himself when the others named would have deemed it "impossible: In his best days he combined Jones' coolness, Colin Duff's ability to draw the defence, and Hepburn's scoring power. To take a Home simile, I would say he was a combination of JJ Hawkridge and AE Stoddart, possessing all their best points. He is by no means a big man; he stands 5 feet 8 inches, and weighs only 10 stone 10 pounds, is a mass of muscle and sinew from head to foot, and is twenty-seven years of age, but looks less. He is not alone good at football, but he is also a fine all-round athlete. He won the athletic championship of Victoria College three years in succession in 1896-7-8, taking the "Victor Ludorum" Cup on each occasion, and he has more than once been timed to run 100 yards in 10 1-5 seconds. It is safe to say that his name will long be remembered in South African Rugby football history as one of the marvels of his age - an age of great footballers - and "Japie" will go down to posterity as one of the men who rendered South African back play what it is - the brightest of modern football. 

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






FREDERICK JAMES DOBBIN (Kimberley, Griqualand West and South Africa) was born at Bethulie, Orange River Colony, in 1879, but his parents removed to Kimberley when he was barely two years of age, so that he is to all intents and purposes a Kimberley man, born and bred; he certainly is a product of Kimberley football. Like very many half-backs who have distinguished themselves in South African football, he is short in stature, but he is compactly built, and heavy for his inches. He is 5 feet 6 1/2 inches in height, and weighs, fit and well, 11 stone 3 pounds. He is a very powerful little man, hard, and, although he has been playing football for over eleven years, and has had to play against heavy forwards and backs, he is as sound as a bell. To-day he plays a very good sound game; he believes, as do many players to-day, in making an opening before he passes out, and in this respect he plays with capital judgment. He has learned the futility of the game, which Powell and he perfected, of inter-half passing and re-passing, recognising that the sooner the game is opened out in the third line the better chance that line have of manoeuvring. He learned his football with the Kimberley Club, and, from 1895 to 1899, when John Powell was a name to conjure with, he played with the third and second teams, learning to play a sound game. In 1899 he partnered Powell at half for Kimberley, and so well did he perform that he was selected for Griqualand West as well, and his smart nippy work had much to do with that centre's victory in the Currie Cup that year. In 1902 after a rest during the troublesome times 1899-1901, he resumed refreshed and strengthened, and soon made a name for himself; and in 1903 Powell and he were selected as halves for South Africa, at Johannesburg, and subsequently at Kimberley; but they cramped the three-quarter play too much, and were not selected for the match at Capetown; In 1904 he represented Griqualand West in the Currie Cup Tournament at East London, and there was a marked improvement in his play, although even then there was a tendency to confine the outside combination to the halves and centre three-quarters. This he has now abandoned, and at the recent tournament he played a very clever, sound game, initiating many very fine movements, and his defence was particularly good. In Kimberley he is a great favourite on account of his quiet unassuming manner, and his excellence and tact as a skipper. In the recent tour he has proved himself the soundest and best half on the South African side, and there are very few halves he has played against who were his equals in finesse, or superior in defence and resource.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





WILLIAM A. BURGER (Alberts, Kingwilliamstown; and Border) was born in the district of Peddie, in 1884, and is one of the soundest and best forwards in South Africa. He is built for forward work, standing just over 5 feet 11 inches in height, and weighing over 14 stone. He is one of the youngest members of the team, but for all that has had plenty of experience. He bas learned all his football in Kingwilliamstown. For three years he played with the Pirates there, but then threw in his lot in 1903, with the Alberts, where, under the careful coaching of Billy Robertson, he developed those qualities that have made him more or less what he is to-day. In that year he played for Kingwilliamstown and District against the English team. In the following year he represented the Border in the Currie Cup Tournament, and in my opinion he was one of the five best forwards who took part in the tournament; and on that form I considered that he would be a certainty for any South African team visiting England; in fact, I considered .that both he and his elder brother would get their places. Unfortunately for South Africa the elder brother dropped out of football. In 1906 WA Burger again represented the Border in the Currie Cup, and he played a magnificent game for that centre, and was one of the best forwards playing in the tournament. Occasionally he played three-quarter, and even there he was one of their best men. In this tour he has been one of the mainstays of the forwards, one of the first men to go into the pack, always showing his best, always on the ball; although he has not been prominent he has always been doing good, solid work, and it is impossible to fully estimate his worth in the team.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






JOHN W. E. RAAFF (De Beers, Griqualand West and South Africa) was born at Capetown in 1879, and is one of the tallest men in the team, standing 6 feet 3 inches in height and weighing 13 stone 8 pounds. He is a very powerful forward, very good in the loose, for he dribbles well, follows up fast, and tackles very brilliantly; at the line out he is one of the best men in the team, making full use of his great reach; he takes the ball well, and passes with judgment. In loose rushes he is exceptionally good, and if he gets the ball anywhere near the line he is an almost certain scorer. In the present tour he has done remarkably well, his line-out play, having been brilliant, whilst in the open he has had few superiors. Although born in Capetown, all that he knows about the game has been learned in Kimberley. He started playing in De Beers in 1895, and gradually worked his way into the first team in 1899. He was then a tall thin lad, giving promise of filling out, and was not considered strong enough for representative honours. In 1903 he gained his first real representative honours, playing twice for Griqualand West against the English team, and twice for South Africa, at Johannesburg and Kimberley. When he played here, although giving a hard, keen exposition, he was rather raw in the finer points of the game, and did not seem to know how to bestow his huge bulk in the scrum to the best advantage for himself and the team he was playing for. When he played at East London in 1904 for Griqualand West he showed great improvement, and her during the last tournament he proved himself a finished player, and either in the open or in the scrums he proved himself one of the best forwards in the tournament.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





PIETER A. LE ROUX (Gardens and Western Province) was born at Paarl, Cape Colony, in 1885. He stands 5 feet 10 inches in height, and weighs 13 stone 10 pounds. He is a younger brother of the three-quarter, but is more powerfully built. He is fast and determined, works hard in the scrum, is very quick in following up, and is rarely off the ball. In handling the ball, too, he is quite good, and he is a very difficult man to stop if he receives the ball in the open when going at any speed. He learned his football at Wellington, where he played wing three-quarter for Wellington first in 1900 and 1901. He went to Victoria College in 1902, and at once gained his first team colours, playing wing to Japie Krige. His play in that position lacked finish, and although a strong runner and a very powerful young fellow he was not of the class likely to gain highest honours in that position. Two years later he joined the Gardens, and after trying his luck at three-quarter, went forward, where he found his vocation. In his second year he gained his cap as the best forward in the Gardens pack, a pack noted for its hard scrummagers. In 1906 he played such a sterling game that his place in the Western Province team was certain. In the last tournament in Johannesburg he played a great game for Western Province, and with R. Pritchard and WA Millar, he was always in the van on the attack. In the present tour he has done yeoman service, for his great weight, size, and bull-like strength have rendered him one of the best scrummers in the pack, and very dangerous in the open. He is young yet, and should have many years of good football in him, and the experience gained should stand him in excellent stead in the future.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







DANIEL J. BRINK (Stellenbosch and Western Province) was born at Kuils River, Cape Colony, in 1883. He stands 6 feet 2 inches in height, and weighs 13 stone 3 pounds. He is a typical South African forward, tall and sparely built, and raw-boned. He is always hard arid fit, and can play all day, as the saying is, and is ready for another game the following day. He goes into the fray heart and soul, makes the best use he can of his weight in the scrum where he usually figures in the back row, follows up well, dribbles neatly and tackles well, whilst at the line out there are few better men. He learned his football in Stellenbosch, and with the Stellenbosch team. In the beginning of 1901 he was in the third team, and before the end of the season he was recognised as one of the hardest workers in the first team. In 1902 he came more in contact with the other Western Province players, and the experience he gained enabled him in 1903 to gain his place, both in the Western Province and Country District teams, against the English team. In 1904 he fell away somewhat, and failed to gain his colours for the Western Province at East London, although if he was anywhere near the form he showed in the tournament at Johannesburg, he must have been streets ahead of at least two, of the forwards who figured in the cup holders' team in 1904. In 1905 and 1906 he more than maintained his early form, rendering his place in the Western Province team for 1906 almost a certainty. In the last tournament he played a very hard keen game, using his head as well as his feet, During the present tour he has fully justified his selection, the qualities which I have just enumerated having cared him to be justly considered one of the best forwards of the team.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





ANDREW O. MORKEL (Pirates, Transvaal and South Africa) was born in Somerset West, Cape Colony, in 1882, and is well fitted by physique and temperament for the game. He is tall and well proportioned, standing 5 feet 10 inches in height, and weighing 12 stone 9 pounds when thoroughly fit. He is a left wing three-quarter, it is astonishing how many good left wingers there are in South Africa, fairly fast, running very strongly, and when near the line he throws all his weight and power into his pace, frequently scoring by sheer determination. When not too near the line, he is apt to slacken when men go determinedly for him, but he can cross kick with good judgment, and executes this manoeuvre without checking his pace, and without apparent change of action. He is a fine drop kick and punt, and has been known to drop goals from the touch- line, almost from the centre of the ground, and he is a superb tackler. He fields well, and kicks almost in any position. He has been crocked on several occasions, once badly when playing against the English team for South Africa, and again in the Currie Cup Tournament when playing against the Western Province. He was educated in Kimberley, and it was with the Pirates Club there that he learned the game. His excellent physique and fine kicking powers early brought him into prominence, and he was playing for Pirates first when he was barely eighteen years of age. He came up with the Kimberley Pirates in 1903 to Johannesburg, and, as he had three brothers resident in that town, determined to stay there. He joined the Johannesburg Pirates, and played for the Transvaal and the Town Clubs against the English team, and also for South Africa. In 1904 he played for Transvaal in the Currie Cup Tournament, but was not a success. In 1905-6, playing for the Pirates, he was the soundest man in their line, whether on the defence or on the attack, and in the Currie Cup Tournament played in Johannesburg last year he did some brilliant things for the Transvaal, rendering his selection as left wing three-quarter-fit and well-a certainty. He left Johannesburg certified medically as sound, but crocked again in the first practice match played in England . In consequence, he only played one match during the tour, when he showed that his South African form was true.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







DOUGLAS F.T. MORKEL (C.S.A.R., Johannesburg and Transvaal) was born in 1886 at Kimberley, but came to Johannesburg with his parents when he was only a few years of age. He stands 6 feet in height, and weighs in condition 14 stone 7 pounds, and is the ideal size for a forward. He is strong and powerful, clever with his feet in the open, very fast, passes smartly, tackles splendidly, and is a magnificent drop or place kick. Although so powerful; he lacks experience, and does not know how to make full use of his weight in the pack. When he learns that he will be a second HS Vassall. He has learned all his football here, and as a lad of twelve played in the Pirates fourth string in competitions for boys under sixteen years. Before he was sixteen years of age he was playing in the Star first team, and from 1901 to 1904 he was a prominent member of the Villagers team. In 1903 he played for Johannesburg against the English team, when he was only seventeen years of age, and was mentioned as one of the most promising forwards in that team. In 1904 he failed to gain his cap for the Transvaal , and in 1905 he joined the C.S.A.R., where, in a good pack, he gained knowledge and experience. During 1906 he played at times a very brilliant game, and in the open did invaluable service for his club, for whom his place and drop kicking was of immense service. He is one of the finest place kicks in South Africa, being able to kick a goal from beyond halfway, and he can drop even further. He gained his place in the Transvaal team during the last Currie Cup Tournament, and played so well that he was selected for highest honours in South Africa. He is, besides being a good footballer, a useful cricketer, and played for the C.S.A.R. in Senior Cup Cricket. As a boy, he was a splendid sprinter, and the pace he shows on the football field is derived from his early track work. He is very useful, as he can play a very fair three-quarter game, being able to take his passes well, whilst he smothers his opponents when he tackles them. In the present tour he has played capital game, being ever prominent in footwork in the open. As he is quite young yet, he should improve a great deal, and in a few years if he does not put on too much weight, he should be one of the best forwards in South Africa.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







WILLIAM SOMERSET MORKEL (Mines RFC and Transvaal) was born in Kimberley in 1880. He stands 5 feet 11 inches in height, and weighs 12 stone 7 pounds. He is one of the best forwards in the pack, and one of the best all-round men in the team. As a forward he is one of the hardest workers in the scrums in South Africa. Possessed of great physical strength, he shoves every ounce of his weight, and is a genuinely great forward. Always in the front or second row, he never dreams of shirking his share of work; in fact, he world think nothing of making up for a colleague's deficiencies in that respect. in the open and in the loose he is a fair terror, for he is one of the fastest forwards in South Africa, and if he lays a hand on a man he goes down; and he always goes hard and low for an opponent. There is no tackling about the eyebrows for Sammy. In the open he is not unlike what the great English forward Frank Evershed was, for he runs, passes, and kicks like a three-quarter, and he is never at a loss what to do. He started to play Rugby in 1896, and played for the Third Wanderers. In the following year he played for the Villagers; but in 1898 he joined the Pirates, and at once gained a place in the forward ranks of their first team; and strong as the Transvaal was in that year he was considered for representative honours. In 1899 he was one of the best forwards in the Pirates, and was noted then for his dash, pace, and strong tackling. In 1900 he organised a team at St. Helena, and played both forward and three-quarter. On his return here he turned out for the Villagers, the club in which his brothers were playing, and was the best forward, probably the best player in the team. In 1903 he was selected to play for Johannesburg against the English team, and was the best forward on the local side. He ought to have been selected for the Transvaal, but was only on the reserve. In 1904, however, he got his chance, and went down to East London with the Transvaal. There he played a great game; in fact, so well did he perform against the Western Province, that B. H. Heatlie, one of the best judges in South Africa pronounced him the second best forward in the Transvaal. In 1905 he joined the Mines, and that year, as well as this year, he has been the best forward in the pack and the most useful man in the team. He was again selected to play for the Transvaal in 1906, and played such a game that his South African cap was a certainty. He is a most versatile player, for he can play anywhere on the field, half, three-quarter, or full-back. There are many who aver that, had he not been a forward, he would have been the finest three-quarter in the Transvaal . In the tour he has not only proved himself a worthy supporter of his captain in the vanguard, but he has frequently done great service in the third line, besides playing full-back when Burmeister and Marsburg were hurt, He is a fine all round-athlete, being a fine jumper and runner and his brother Harry, the old South African champion, said that another champion hurdler was lost in WS Morkel.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







HENRY JOHN DANEEL (Victoria College, Stellenbosch and Western Province) was born at Heidelberg , South- Western Districts, in 1881. He is just 6 feet in height, and weighs, 13 stone 2 pounds. He is one of those who began to play against men when young, for he was not fifteen when he played for Riversdale, in the South- Western Districts. That playing did not in any way affect his spirit, and when he went up to Victoria College in 1899 he at once- gained his place in the second string. In 1901 he was translated into the first team, and from that day he has never looked behind him. He has always been a sturdy, genuine grafter, following up smartly, and using his feet to advantage. In 1903 he gained his place in the country team against the English team, and when he came up to Johannesburg' with the Stellenbosch team in 1904 he was, next to Paul Roos, the best man in that pack. He' played a remarkably hard plucky game on the hard ground, with which he made acquaintance for the first time. I noticed then that although he was always one of the first to go into the scrum, he was always on the ball, and nearly always first at the line out, where he was particularly smart. He represented the Western Province at East London in 1904, where he played a wonderfully sound game. In the recent tournament he still further distinguished himself, and, with Van den Heever, was one of the best scrummers in the pack; while in the loose .and open his great control of the ball gave him a decided advantage. In the tour just concluded he has played a great game, considerably enhancing his reputation.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







WILLIAM A. MILLAR (Gardens and Western Province), was born at Bedford, in the Eastern Province, in 1884, is 5 feet l0 inches in height, and weighs 13 stone 2 pounds. Millar is a wonderful product of pluck and determination. Although he played a little football at the South African College in 1899, he did not really start playing the game again till 1903. He was badly wounded during the war, and, on returning to Capetown convalescent, his great recreations were walking, mountain climbing and shooting. It was in these exercises that he acquired the stamina, and gained the bodily strength which stood him in good stead at Rugby football. To-day he is a splendid type of a forward, hard working in the scrums, indefatigable in the open, good with his feet in the loose, clever in handling, and a determined tackler. In 1903 he started in the second string of the Gardens, but was playing in the first before the end of the season. In 1904-5-6 he steadily improved, till in the last season he was recognised as one of the hardest, soundest and best forwards in the Western Province. He was selected for the Western Province in the Currie Cup Tournament at Johannesburg, and played a splendid game right through. His omission from the original list of those selected caused some surprise, but Bertie Mosenthal's inability to make the trip gave him his place as first reserve. In the tour his selection was amply justified, as he played a splendid game right through, and was always in the van where hard work was to be done. As an all-round athlete he has few equals in the team. He is a very fair cricketer, the champion walker of South Africa, having no one at the present time who can approach him for style, pace and endurance; he is also a splendid amateur boxer, having won the championship of the Western Province for heavy weights.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





DOUGLAS BROOKES (Alberts, Kingwilliamstown and Border) was born in Kingwilliamstown in 1883; he stands 6 feet 1 inch in height, and weighs 12 stone 10 pounds. He is a fine dashing forward, plays a hard keen game, follows up fast, tackles hard and low, dribbles well, and is first-class at the line-out. He is, perhaps, seen at his best when his side is being pressed, for it is then that he goes all out, and makes best use of his weight. He has a fine pair of shoulders, and is big over the hips, so that when he goes in the scrum and shoves his opponents know all about it. He has learned all his football in Kingwilliamstown, and is one of Billy Robertson's pupils. He has always played for the Alberts, and for the past three seasons was, next to the Burgers, the best forward in the well-known team. In 1903 he played for Kingwilliamstown and District against the English team, and made a great impression on the visitors. At East London, in the Currie Cup Tournament, the following year, he played for the Border, and played a hard, good game throughout. In 1906 he came with the Border team again; and played brilliantly, showing his real worth when his colleague, Burger, was unable to play forward, when he was both in and out the scrum the best forward on the side. He was selected for South Africa , and, if he has not played as often as some of the others, he has always played a sterling honest game when he turned out.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







WILLIAM CHARLES MARTHEZE (Kimberley, Griqualand West and South Africa) was born at Malmesbury in 1878, stands 5 feet 9 inches in height, and weighs exactly 12 stone. Although lighter possibly than most of the other members of the pack, he is one of the best forwards of the fourteen. He possesses plenty of pace, which he knows how to make use of to the best advantage; but what I admired in him most was the genuine and honest way in which he worked in the scrums. There are plenty of heavier men playing in the team who do not shove within pounds of what Martheze does; yet whenever he comes out of the pack he is always on the ball, and goes hard for his man; and there are few faster forwards in the open than he is. He learned all his football in Kimberley, and has been connected with the Kimberley Club for quite twelve years. He gained his place in the Kimberley team in 1897. In 1899 he represented Griqualand West at the tournament at Kimberley. In 1903 he was selected for Griqualand West against the English team, and his fine play also gained him his South African cap at Kimberley. In 1904 he was again selected to play for Griqualand West in the Currie Cup at East London, and there the "Rajah,'" as he is called, was one of the best forwards of a good pack. During the last tournament he again represented Griqualand West, and no forward on the side worked harder than he. He is an excellent athlete, and has won many prizes at short distance events on the flat. In the tour just concluded he was one of the hardest working forwards in the pack, whilst in the open his clever foot play and splendid following up and deadly tackling have been of great service to his side. 

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







WILLIAM ALLAN NEILL (Pirates, Kingwilliamstown and Border) is the only member of the team who was not born in South Africa. He was born in Glasgow in 1883, but came out to South Africa when he was barely three years of age. He is a fine stamp of a forward, standing 5 feet 9 inches in height, and weighing 12 stone 7 pounds. He is a splendid scrummager, a sturdy grafter who works hard from start to finish. He, too, comes through the scrum, and follows up indefatigably and is clever with his feet. There are some who prefer him to Burger, but I, who have seen both play, do not consider him nearly as good, for he has neither his individuality nor his wonderful ability for making an opening; At the same time, he is a capital, hard player. He learned all his football in Kingwilliamstown, joining the Pirates there in 1901. He played for the second that season, but was promoted to the first the following season, and in 1903 was made vice-captain of the team. In that year he was selected to play for Kingwilliamstown and District against the English team. The following year saw him in the Border team, where his sturdy genuine play made him respected by all who played against him. In 1905 and 1906 he improved considerably, and in the tournament in Johannesburg in 1906 played a splendid game for the Border, and was selected as one of the South African team. He did not play very often during the tour, but whenever he did his hard unostentatious play gained for him the commendation of the critics.   

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






HUBERT G. REID (Harlequins, Pretoria and Transvaal) was born in Worcester in 1883. He stands 6 feet 2” inches in height, and weighs 14 stone. He comes of a football family, his elder brother, A. Reid, being one of the most prominent members of the Hamiltons, Capetown, where he was at one time considered one of the finest forwards in the pack. He was educated at Sea Point School, and played for Hamilton's thirds in 1898. He did not play any football to speak of again till 1902, when, being in Pretoria, he assisted in forming the Civil Service Football Club there, a club which subsequently became known as the Harlequins. A stalwart, powerful young man, he soon made his name. He played for Pretoria and District against the English team in 1903. In 1904 he was selected to play for the Transvaal in the Currie Cup' at East London. He played in several of the matches there, but was nothing like the effective scrummager and all-round player that his club mate, Townsend, was. He was however, one of the best men at the line out, fast at following up, and a most determined tackler. From 1904 to 1906 he improved his play, and increasing in weight and strength was able to do better work in the scrums. In 1906, in the Currie Cup Tournament, after playing in almost every match with great credit for the Transvaal, he was selected to play for South Africa . He is very fast, dribbles well, and possesses a good temper, which fact has always served him well, for men always throw him hard, and as he is tall he falls heavily. During the present tour he has done some very fine work, and, in the earlier matches, was one of the best forwards in the team. 

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






ADAM FRANCIS BURDETT (Villagers and Western Province) was born at Oudtshoorn in 1882; he stands 5 feet 10 inches, and weighs 12 stone 9 pounds. He is a hard working forward, but who is seen to most advantage in the open, where his very clever footwork and pace render him always prominent. He is a good tackler, like most of the Diocesan College forwards. It was at Diocesan College that he learned his football, a school which of late has turned out more; good backs than forwards. The school of late years has been rather light forward, and has for that reason adopted the loose game rather than the tight scrummage one. He went to "Bishops" in 1899, and, starting in the third team, gained his senior cap the following year. He played regularly in the team till 1905, in which year he captained them. In the following year (1906) he left and joined the Villagers, but absence from town kept him out of the team for the most of the season. Still his form in 1905 was so good that he was picked to play in the tournament at Johannesburg, being really the last man selected for the forward division. He played a good game in the tournament in Johannesburg , but nothing exceptional, and his selection came somewhat as a surprise. Still, on the tour in England he has justified his place, playing some really good games, particularly in the Internationals in which he took part. 

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





ARTHUR F W MARSBURG (Kimberley RFC and Griqualand West) was born at Sterkstroom, Cape Colony, in 1883, and is just over twenty-three years of age; tall and well proportioned, he is just over 6 feet in height, he tips the beam at 13 stone 4 pounds, Marsburg learned all his football in Kimberley, and was brought out by that club which has trained so many magnificent players in the Diamondopolis, the Pirates. In 1898, when he was but fifteen years of age, he figured as full back in the third team. In 1899 he was promoted to the second team, and he remained in that team till 1902, gradually maturing, and gaining strength and speed. In 1903 he came up to the Rand with a theatrical company, and played a few matches with the Marist Brothers' Old Boys, and on returning to Kimberley threw in his lot with the Kimberley Club, who at once installed him as full back for their first team, He played so well that he was tried in the "Possibles" in the trial matches to pick the Griqualand West team against the last British team, He did not gain his place, but the following year, at the tournament at East London, he was selected as full back for Griqualand West, and, with an erratic line of three-quarters, proved a very safe custodian, a fine tackler and fielder, and a strong long kick, Since then, he has proved, either in the last line or at three-quarter, one of the best men in South Africa, A very fine all-round athlete, he was one of the best runners in Griqualand West from 100 yards to a quarter-mile, and won the championships at these distances for his club. Fearless alike in defence and attack, he was chosen as wing three-quarter for Griqualand West in the late tournament, his brother, PA Marsburg, filling the position of full back. So well did he perform on the right wing that he was selected as Loubser's, understudy on that wing, as well as reserve full back. It is, however, .as full back that he has served South Africa. An accident to Burmeister early in the tour compelled him to take that position, and it is safe to say that when ever the tour of the Springbokken will be mentioned in the future, the name of Marsburg will be coupled with it as the outstanding player on the side, as one of the greatest, if not the greatest, full backs that the world has known. As a fearless player he has never been excelled; his daring in rushing in among advancing forwards and picking up the ball and getting it away has been unsurpassed, whilst his strength, weight and speed have been of inestimable value in stopping and smothering the strongest and heaviest of his opponents. Although a strong and powerful kick, his length was sometimes lacking, but he almost always found touch.




JOHANNES A LOUBSER (Victoria College, Stellenbosch, Western Province and South Africa) was born in 1884, and is twenty-two years of age. He is the right wing three-quarter, and is an ideal player. He stands 5 feet - 8 inches in height, and is wonderfully well developed, fleet of foot, strong in the gymnast's conception of the term, and scales fit and well just over 12 stone. He is possessed of a great turn of speed, and, what is frequently so lacking in a sprinter on a football field, he gets away fast, and is in his stride at once. He does not know what fear is, and for that reason takes a lot of stopping, and unless tackled firmly round the waist or by the ankles, he will go right through the tackler. Woe betide the man who goes for him round the thighs, for the man will receive his knees in his chest or in his collar-bone, with the full weight of the runner behind them. He is, too, a wonderfully safe tackler, and a good kick. He went to Victoria College in 1900, but it was not till 1902 that he began to display that talent which eventually enabled him to take highest honours at the game. At the outset of his career, when playing for the third team, a broken arm threatened to cut short his football life, but it took more than a broken arm to stay that determined young player. In 1903 he was tried for Victoria College, and with such success that he gained his place in the Stellenbosch team, was selected for the country teams of the Western Province against the English team, then played twice for the Western Province and twice for South Africa, at Kimberley and Capetown, against that team-a truly wonderful record for a first year man. At that time he was comparatively light, and what constituted his great play was his marvellous swerving when going at top speed, and he could swerve both ways. The following' season he accompanied the Stellenbosch team to the Rand, and with "Japie," shared honours as the idol of the crowd. It will not be forgotten in a hurry the wonderful try he gained against the Diggers. He came straight down the wing after receiving from "Japie," about fifteen yards from touch-line, leaving plenty of room to manoeuvres on that side. He appeared to be running straight into McGuinness' the full back's arms, who was coming at him with the intention of anticipating the swerve toward the touch line. When within five yards of McGuinness, he suddenly swerved in, going right across the back into the centre of the field; although so close, McGuinness never even touched him with the tips of his fingers, and Loubser scored under the posts. He represented Western Province in the Currie Cup at East London, and played a very great game, and was head and shoulders above any other wing in the tournament. In 1905 he maintained his great form, and, with increased weight and strength, was more difficult than ever to stop, whilst in resource and saving he was the best man in South Africa. In the last season he put on more weight, and appeared to have lost his marvellous facility for swerving in any direction, but he had gained in speed and strength, and played great football right through the recent tournament. When selected to go Home, he was by far the finest all-round wing three-quarter in South Africa. Whilst not such a good drop as Stegmann, he was surer in the length of his kicking, and displayed far more resource when pressed, and was quite as fast as that youth, whilst in knowledge of the game he was infinitely superior. He is in addition a splendid all-round athlete. He gained the College Championship in 1904-5, and in addition won the 100 and 200 yards Inter-College Races.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)







ANTHONY C. STEGMANN (Victoria College, Stellenbosch; and Western Province) was born in Cradock, Eastern Province, in 1884, and is thus entering upon his twenty-third year. He is a tall, well-built man, standing 5 feet 11 inches, and weighing 12 stone 7 pounds; he possesses great pace and determination and kicks very well, either drop-kicking or punting. Like Loubser, he gets away very smartly, and is usually going at top speed when he has covered ten yards. From his pace, and the fact that he brings his knees high up, he is a difficult man to stop. He has a wonderfully sure pair of hands, takes and gives his passes very cleanly, and is a wonderfully good tackler.

His first introduction to football was when he was at school at Wellington in 1901, but there his play was not of a character that led one to think that he would develop into one of the best three-quarters in South Africa. He did not play at all in 1902-3, but on going up to Victoria College in 1904 he took up the game again and quickly gained his place in the Victoria College fifteen, and Stellenbosch second. The following season he turned out occasionally for the first XV when Lochner was unable to play, and on the latter leaving he gained his place in the first fifteen of Stellenbosch. As soon as he became accustomed to his colleagues, it was soon apparent that the new man was in the first flight of players in the Western Province and a great improvement on his predecessor. After he had played four or five games, his place as left wing three-quarter for Western Province was assured, and this in spite of the great game that "Japie” Le Roux was playing.

In the Currie Cup Tournament he only played two games, but these were sufficient to demonstrate his great ability as a wing player, and if he could do himself justice on the hard grounds of the Transvaal after having played all his football on the soft grounds in the Western Province, there was every reason to think he would be a success in England. There, as a scoring three-quarter, he has proved the man of the team, and particularly at the commencement of the tour, scoring in almost every match he played. The consequence was that he was "marked," and more than once had to lay up for repairs.  

Stegmann on his way to scoring against Glamorgan  


(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






JACOB S. LE ROUX (Gardens and Western Province) was born at Paarl in 1883, and is the elder of the two brothers playing in the South African team. He is tall and well proportioned, standing 5 feet 11 inches, and weighing in condition 12 stone 6 pounds. He is a very strong runner, dodging in a wonderful manner, and frequently gets through the opposition where a faster man would fail. On the defence he is perhaps seen at his best, for he tackles brilliantly, stops rushes of the forwards in determined and daring fashion, fields well, and kicks finely to touch. He is very versatile, and can, although really a left winger, play on either wing, taking his passes very well with either hand, and on the tour he was most useful, being able to take either Stegmann's or Loubser's place, and he proved a prolific scorer. He learned his early football at Paarl, but proceeded to Stellenbosch in 1899, and he acquired the science of the game under the tuition of Markotter. In 1902 he assisted Stellenbosch to win the Grand Challenge Cup. In 1903, on joining the Civil Service in Capetown, he joined the Gardens, and materially strengthened that club in the third line. The comparative weakness of the Gardens outside the scrum threw a lot of work on his shoulders, with the result that he developed into a magnificently resourceful player. In 1906, the back play generally of Gardens having improved, his work became more finished, and he showed up so well that he gained his place on the wing for Western Province. Stegmann's accident in the tournament was his opportunity, and he made 'such good use of it that he was selected for South Africa as one of the wing three-quarters, and his play in England has more than justified his choice.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





SIDNEY C. DE MELKER (Kimberley, Griqualand West and South Africa) was born in Kimberley in 1884, and is one of a band of brothers whose name is a household word in Kimberley football. Young De Melker was educated in an atmosphere of football, and little wonder that, with a natural aptitude for the game, he soon overcame the disadvantage of stature, and blossomed out into a first-class player, and one worthy to represent South Africa. He is small, for he is barely 5 feet 7 inches in height, somewhere about the same size as R. E. Lockwood, and about the same weight-10 stone 10 pounds as that player was when he played for Yorkshire and England. Coached by his brother, a celebrated half, he learned not alone how to take passes, but how to give them to the best advantage. He is faster than he looks, and runs straight through, making capital openings for his co-centre or wing, whilst on the defence he is the best centre in South Africa. He is in addition a fine kick, either "drop" or "punt." He has played first-class football for many years, and as far back as 1901 he was playing centre for the Kimberley Club, in which year they won the Griqualand West Cup. Two years later he played centre three-quarter with Bishop for South Africa against England, and also represented Griqualand West twice against the same combination. In the following year he was chosen to play centre three-quarter for Griqualand West at the tournament at East London, and in the Transvaal match he distinguished himself -by the fearless manner in which he tackled McEwan. In the 'team at Home his ability to play either right or left centre was of great service to the team, and he played some magnificent games, enhancing the high reputation already made in South Africa.  

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






DIETLOF S. MARE (Pretoria and Transvaal) was born at Wellington in 1885, and is one of the most powerful men in the team. He is magnificently developed, standing 5 feet 9 inches in height, and weighing, in condition, 13 stone 2 pounds. He is very sturdy, and takes a lot of pulling down when once he gets going. Despite his great weight, he is very quick and smart, possesses a fair turn of speed, and passes and takes his passes very well indeed. As a tackler, he has few superiors, and is wonderfully good at saving rushes; he kicks well, being a useful drop at short range, while he punts and screw kicks to touch with judgment. His early education was gained at Wellington High School, and he played there from 1896 to 1901 in almost every position on the field. In 1901 he played for Wellington at half, but in 1903 he went to Stellenbosch, and was played at half for that club, and his sterling qualities gained him his place against the English team, for the country clubs of the Western Province. At the end of the season he went to Pretoria, and threw in his lot with the Pretoria Club, assisting that club to win the Pirates Grand Challenge Cup. In 1904 he was selected, with H. H. Ferris and J. Davey, as one of the half-backs for the Transvaal, but they were unable to combine, for all were outside halves, and although Mare did perhaps the best work of the trio, he did not greatly enhance his reputation. During the season 1905 he played a very strong game, and was the mainstay of Pretoria back division. In the last season he started badly, and gradually played himself into form, and was selected to partner Davey in the 1906 tournament. There he played a, great game as scrum half, his strength enabling, him to feed his colleagues even when tackled and rushed. And he certainly proved himself the best scrum half in the tournament. He was selected to go Home, but there he made a greater name for himself as a forward than as a half and, in the few matches in which he played forward, he was, if not the best forward in the team, certainly the second best. In addition to being able to play half and forward, he is a splendid three-quarter. Besides being a good footballer, he is an adept at Jiu-Jitsu, a good weight lifter, and a first-class cyclist.   

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






DIRK CLOETE JACKSON. (Diocesan College and Western Province) was born at Wynberg in 1886, and is one of the youngest members of the team. He is tall and well proportioned, and promises to fill out a lot and become a very big man. At present he stands 5 feet 11 inches in height, and weighs 11 stone 10 pounds. He was educated at Diocesan College, and has learned all his football there. Not alone did he have such players as Carolin, Boyes and Butler to study, but his elder brother Henry, one of the most finished halves in the Western Province of his day, taught him much of what he knows. He is very smart and nippy outside the scrum, gets the ball away quickly and cleverly, is a magnificent touch kick, kicking with great length, tackles resolutely, and is fast and dangerous when anywhere near the goal line. He first came into notice at "Bishops," when playing for the School Shield team in 1898, and gradually worked his way up through third and second team to the first team, for which he started playing in 1904 In his early days he played alternately at full back and three-quarter, where his ability in kicking stood him in good stead. In 1905 he came on a lot, and in 1906 he played so well that his Western Province Cap was a certainty. During the tour in England he learned a great deal; and towards the end of the tour he partnered Dobbin at half in all the important fixtures, for if not so brilliant as Carolin on the latter's best form, he was sounder and far more consistent. In addition to being a brilliant footballer, he is a good cricketer, giving great prominence with bat and ball, and he is one of the best middle distance runners in the Western Province, having won the half mile championship in 1905.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






JOHN G. HIRSCH (Crusaders, Port Elizabeth , Eastern Province and Clare College , Cambridge ) is a South African born and bred. He was born at Port Elizabeth in 1883, and is just over twenty-three years of age. He stands 5 feet 11 inches in height, and scales just over 13 stone. He is very well proportioned, and does not look his weight, but those who try to tackle him soon find out that he is a mass of muscle. He is fast, moving with a long loping stride, and it is only when he has passed an opponent that the latter fully realises how fast he is. He gets away very smartly, and possesses a natural deceptive swerve. He is a strong kick, fields smartly, and tackles surely. He was educated at the Grey Institute, Port Elizabeth , but left there in 1899, when he went to England , to Shrewsbury School , where Soccer was the code. He played that game there, but found cricket more to his liking, and when he went to Clare College, Cambridge, in 1902, it was his cricket abilities which attracted the attention of the authorities rather than his football; although he was a sterling three-quarter, very powerful, on the attack, had it not been for his sudden return to South Africa in 1905, he might have gained his cricket “blue." On his return to Port Elizabeth he joined the Crusaders, and, under the captaincy of that experienced player, Heddon developed all his latent qualities! And was a tower of strength to his club on the defence as well as on the attack; and his club were successful in carrying off the Eastern Province Cup last season. In the tournament held in Johannesburg he was by far the best man in the third line for the Eastern Province , his running and fine kicking serving that Union in good stead right through.

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)






Joubert makes an attempt at goal during the Irish international



STEPHEN JOUBERT ( Victoria College , Stellenbosch, and Western Province ), usually known as ” Steve," was born at Uniondale , South- Western Districts, in 1887, and is only just nineteen years of age. He is small, but well built, standing just under 5 feet 6 inches, and tipping the beam at 10 stone 6 pounds. His early experience of football was gained at the Paarl Gymnasium, where he played in the Shield team under the captaincy of "Boy" de Villiers. He played for the team from 1899 to 1902, and in the last year was tried at full back for Paarl Second team. In 1903 he went up to Victoria College , Stellenbosch, and joined his brother, Thielman. The latter introduced him to the notice of the Stellenbosch skipper, Markotter, and in 1904 he operated at full back for the College team in the Anderson Cup. In the same year he accompanied the Stellenbosch team on their tour in the Transvaal , and astonished everyone in the match against the Diggers by the soundness of his play and his wonderful touch kicking. The following year found him playing centre for the College team, and in that year, as well as in 1906, his play had a great deal to do with Victoria College taking the cup. When he returned in 1904 to Stellenbosch, he played regularly for that team, and assisted the club in winning the Grand Challenge Cup of the Western Province Rugby Union. During 1905 and 1906 young Joubert filled every position' outside the scrum, and was equally good in each position. If he had not been full back, he would have gained his place in the Western Province team as three-quarter, or even as half- back. In his play in the last tournament he gave a wonderful exposition of full back clay, and, although he was not frequently called upon to do much tackling, his fielding was sure and brilliant, whilst his touch kicking and resource were wonderful. He was chosen as full back for South Africa , but for reasons partly connected with his scholastic career, and partly on account of his extreme youth, he did not go at first, but went after the accident to Burmeister. At Home, however, his slight physique handicapped him in his full back play, particularly in tackling big men, but his resource and wonderful touch kicking, besides his place kicking, were always in evidence. As wing three-quarter, he proved himself a very finished player, and played in this position in the Internationals against England and Wales .

(Text from "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain" by EJL Plateneur, published 1907)





Th-04.jpg (12058 bytes) Elsie Bradford 1/10/05 Th-05.jpg (9703 bytes) Constance M Hughes 1/10/05 Th-06.jpg (9868 bytes) Edwina Hicks ? 1/10/05 Th-07.jpg (13017 bytes) E Liddenson ? 6/10/05
Sara C Bradford 1/10/05 Stanley Rees 1/10/05 G ???? Langdon ? H R Thompson 7/10/05
Frederick Bradford 3/10/05 Mandi Read ? 1/10/05 Dorothy Mills 8/10/05 Wm Ino ? D Rees 29/10/05

The Bradford Family


Th-08.jpg (15601 bytes) CM Gaydon 16/10/05 Th-09.jpg (9875 bytes) Fanny E Gage 16/10/05 Th-10.jpg (11363 bytes) Queenie M Thomas 22/11/05 Th-11.jpg (10656 bytes) Sydney Bradford 31/12/05
N Henderson 16/10/05 F Gage 16/10/05 LL Michael 26/11/05 Ernie Morgan 24/12/05
Mervyn G Williams 29/10/05 W Arthur Thomas 29/10/05 G Jenkins Jones 1/12/05 Glyndwr Thomas 8/12/05

The 1905 All Blacks

Th-12.jpg (8696 bytes) J Corbett NZ 21/12/05 Th-13.jpg (10209 bytes) WE Read 31/12/05 Th-14.jpg (8207 bytes) Dick Jones 2/2/06 Th-16.jpg (8858 bytes) Jack Bancroft 3/2/06
HJ Mynott New Zealand 21/12/05 Ivor W Jones 20/1/06 Dickie Owen 2/2/06 James W Allen 3/2/06
FA Bradford 31/12/05 FJ Gordon 2/2/06 FG Scrine 3/2/06 Charlie Pritchard 3/2/06
Th-17.jpg (8866 bytes) Bert Winfield 3/2/06 Th-18.jpg (9827 bytes) Will Joseph 3/2/06 Th-19.jpg (11026 bytes) George Bowen WFU 3/2/06 Th-20.jpg (10992 bytes) Jack Williams, London Welsh 3/2/06
Rhys Gabe 3/2/06 AJ Davies, Cardiff 3/2/06 Arthur J Gould 3/2/06 WR Thomas, Newport 3/2/06
Willie Trew 3/2/06 I Sydney Boran 3/2/06 Jehodia Hodges 3/2/06 Tommy Vile 3/2/06

Will Joseph & Paul Roos about to jump for the ball, Wales v SA 1906


Th-21.jpg (10194 bytes) Arthur Harding, London Welsh 3/2/06 Th-22.jpg (9202 bytes) Teddy Morgan, London Welsh 3/2/06 Th-23.jpg (9212 bytes) Reggie Gibbs, Cardiff 3/2/06 Th-24.jpg (10995 bytes) Ben Lewis, Referee 3/2/06
HJ Maddocks, London Welsh 3/2/06 Dai Jones, Aberdare 3/2/06 Aubrey Smith, Swansea 3/2/06 Ivor Morgan, Swansea 3/2/06
E Gwyn Nicholls, Cardiff 3/2/06 Harry Bowen, Llanelly, Feb 3rd 06 Jack Garmos ? Abercarn 3/2/06  Harry V Watkins, Llanelli, Llandovery, 3/2/06
Th-25.jpg (9820 bytes) WR Arnold, Swansea, Feb 3rd 1906 Th-26.jpg (11448 bytes) J Cecil Carden, Manager, SA Rugby Team 1906, Port Elizabeth, Cape Colony Th-27.jpg (12199 bytes) PA le Roux, SA Team 1906, Cape Town, Cape Colony Th-28.jpg (11371 bytes) AR Burmeister, Sea Point, Cape Town, SA Team 1906-07
D Davies, Porttennant 3/2/06 PJ Roos, Capt, Stellenbosch, Cape Colony JS Le Roux, SA Team 1906, Cape Town JG Hirsch, Port Elizabeth, South Africa
Wm Barr (y) ? 30/11/06 DJ Brink, Stellenbosch, Cape Colony DC Jackson SA Team 1906, Cape Town H Gordon Reid, Pretoria, Transvaal
Th-29.jpg (11676 bytes) D Morkel, "Chowberg" Transvaal, SA Team 1906 Th-30.jpg (10710 bytes) S Morkel, Johannesburg, SA Team 1906 Th-31.jpg (9028 bytes) DS Mare Th-32.jpg (10171 bytes) A Morkel, SA Team, Johannesburg
AF Burdett, Western Province, SA Rugby Team AC Stegmann, Stellenbosch, South Africa JA Loubser J Krige
AFW Marsberg, Kimberley, SA Team 1906-7 S Joubert, Stellenbosch, SA Team 1906 HJ Dannel FJ Dobbin, Kimberley
Th-33.jpg (10848 bytes) D Brookes Th-34.jpg (11359 bytes) SC de Melker Th-35.jpg (11395 bytes) WA Neill Th-36.jpg (10580 bytes) AG Parker, Jan 11th 1907
JWE Raaff WC Martheze JDW Gage, Dec 9th HM Richards, 10th March 1907
WA Millar WA Burger Gladys Gage, Jan 9th 07 EP Thomas, 10/3/07




 There are numerous blank pages at the end of the thumbographs book. Our plan is to add the 'modern' legends of rugby football to the book to compliment the greatest players of the Victorian era. The first legend to add his Thumbograph was fittingly Gareth Edwards, voted on numerous occasions as the greatest rugby player ever. Gareth added his thumbprint during a BBC documentary on the 1905 Wales v All Black match, further details to follow of Gareth and other rugby legends as they join the long list of rugby superstars in 'Thumbographs - the pocket wonder'



(53 caps for Wales, 1st cap v France 1967, last cap v France 1978, 10 Test appearances for British Lions) 

Voted regularly as the "Greatest Player Ever"  Edwards first made his debut as a 19 year old against France in 1967. He forged brilliant partnerships for Wales and the British Lions, firstly with Barry John then with Phil Bennett. He totalled 10 tests for the Lions and was ever present in the test series of the 1971 and 1974 tours. He also played in every game of the 1971, 1976 & 1978 Welsh Grand Slams. His final appearance was the 1978 Grand Slam decider against France in Cardiff where he dropped a goal. A brilliant all round sportsman he had a Welsh Trial at soccer, won the English Schools 200 yds hurdles title and has represented Wales at angling.




The scene is Cardiff Arms Park, the occasion, Wales against the old enemy. This was the last match of the 1967 Five Nations campaign, England came to Cardiff looking for the Triple Crown and a share in the Championship title. At 18 years of age and only 4 months out of school Keith Jarrett entered the Arms Park for Wales for his international debut. Usually a centre, Jarrett was only making his second appearance as a full back, it was a gamble for the Welsh selectors and it paid off handsomely. 55 points were scored in the match, the highest total ever in the Five Nations championship, A Welsh victory of 34 - 21 included 19 points by Jarrett, another record, this time, the highest score by an individual in an international match, eclipsing Don Clarke's 18 points against the Lions in 1959.

Amazingly this was his only appearance for Wales at full back, he wore the scarlet jersey another 9 times, each time at centre, scoring a further 54 points. In 1968 he was selected for the British Lions tour of South Africa playing in 5 matches with 18 points scored. 1969 was his swansong year in the Welsh team, he toured Australia, New Zealand and Fiji with Wales, playing in all but one match and scoring 52 points. On his return he turned professional with the northern union side Barrow. He represented Wales twice at Rugby league before retiring in 1973 because of ill health.

17th November 2010 Keith Jarrett



Chico Hopkins

Clive Rowlands

Colin Meads

Richie McCaw

Phil Bennett



32.jpg (228220 bytes)

On the 15th January 2018 I met with the legend that is Phil Bennett at Parc-y-Scarlets in llanelli. There was huge buzz about the place, just a couple of days previously the Scarlets had demolished Bath at the Rec in the European Cup. Everyone was smiling including Phil. Why did I meet with Phil Bennett, let's turn the clock back 45 years to a time when I was twelve years old and off to Cardiff Arms Park for my first big match at the stadium, Barbarians v New Zealand 27th January 1973.  This was a match that will live in the minds of many as the greatest rugby match there ever was. Myself included ! I was with 3 schoolmates and we had South Enclosure tickets,  we were late getting into the ground and the game had already started. Once inside I couldn't believe how full the ground was, bodies jammed together, nowhere to stand, nowhere to sit, I was small and couldn't get to the front, there were a forest of people around me and I couldn't see a thing. We eventually managed to make our way up onto the steps that came down from the south stand and settled ourselves down with a limited view of the field. I looked up to see the All Black winger Bryan Williams kick ahead and Phil Bennett picked up the ball in his own 25, he started sidestepping All Blacks and the rest is history, with Edwards scoring in the corner right under our noses. Watching a playback of that try still makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up, even after about the 200th + time, this happens at the same point every time, just before Bryan Williams kicks the ball. If you shut your eyes at this point and listen not to Cliff Morgan but only to the crowd, you get the feeling of what it was like to be there, turn up the volume to full at this point and hear the general crowd noise, then on Benny beating two players, you have the first roar, then 5 different higher levels of 'roaring' ending with Edwards in the corner. An incredible thing to witness and something I'll never forget......

Fast forward to 2018 and it is is now 12 years since I started collecting modern greats in my 'Thumb-o-graphs' book but from the outset it was always my intention to try and achieve the seven players who featured in 'the greatest try' I witnessed in 1973. Since then I've formulated a plan on who else I would like to add to the pocket wonder. Welsh legends, British Lions captains, Rugby World Cup winning captains and my favourite players from my watching days. Of the 5 categories Phil Bennett qualifies on four counts. The Rugby World Cup not having started until 1987 rules him out there. We could talk all day about his fantastic career for Llanelli, Wales, the British Lions and the Barbarians, he was the first Welshman to be capped as a reserve when he took the field at Stade Colombes in 1969, 28 caps later, he retired after captaining the Grand Slam victory over France in 1978, scoring two tries in the process. He starred in the Scarlets victory over the All Blacks in 1972 and also captained them in four successive cup final victories 1973-76. Phil Bennett O.B.E. is a true rugby legend and is generally regarded as one of the greatest players ever.

The other rugby players I would consider as my favourites are Dai Morris, Elgan Rees and Shane Williams. Personal attributes are usually the key to why I admire these players, Dai Morris work rate and general presence were remarkable, I once played against him and tried to tackle him but it was like running into a lamppost, the man is made of granite. Elgan Rees had speed, strength and elusiveness, you never knew what he would do next but strength and speed were things I struggled with and I desperately wanted to be like Elgan. Everybody loves Shane Williams, his play was amazing but the thing I admire most about Shane was commitment to the fans. I can remember him signing autographs for the kids after a freezing night game at the Gnoll, all the other players had gone to get changed. Shane was so cold, he was shivering down to his bones but signed every last piece of paper he could for the children who idolised him. But what of Benny, the only non-Neath man amongst these players. I rubbed shoulders with him several times as I collected his autograph in the 1970s, he seemed a nice enough guy, I loved his sidestep, in particular the mesmerising one he did when he scored an amazing try against South Africa in 1974, the pinpoint accuracy when he kicked the ball was amazing too. But there is was more than this and I didn't know why I thought he was great. As I grow older and hopefully wiser, I try to understand why I favoured Phil. I think there is an invisible quality about the man, its what made him a great leader, for Llanelli, Wales and the British Lions. This quality may be invisible but it resonates when he speaks on the radio and television, how he champions his working class background, his pride in his village Felinfoel and his town Llanelli, the love he shows for his family and his friends. I've come to the conclusion that the man is an enigma, his heart is bigger than his person. This invisible quality I believe is 'passion', this is what makes him great, this is why he sidestepped in 1973, self belief, fuelled by passion. Phil Bennett is more than just a rugby great, he is a great leader but more importantly he is a great Welshman.









The information, illustrations and text used in this exhibit are from the following sources :-

Wayne Thomas - A Century of Rugby Players,  JBG Thomas - An Illustrated History of Welsh Rugby,  Jenkins, Pierce & Auty - A Who's Who of Welsh International Rugby Players,  Laubscher & Nieman - The Carolin Papers, EJL Platenauer - "The Springbokken Tour in Great Britain, Spaldings Athletic & Football Guide 1910,  Gareth Hughes - "The Scarlets",  Chester & McMillan - Encyclopedia of New Zealand Rugby,  Wendy Allchin (Elsie Bradford's grand-daughter), Swansea Central Library.


Thumbographs in print, on screen and on 'tour'

The Thumb-o-graph book has been featured on BBC's 'Flog It' programme.

Featured in an article about the Dai Richards' collection in The Sunday Times. - CLICK HERE

Thumb-o-graphs was featured in the BBC Wales documentary on the 1905 Wales v All Blacks game where Gareth Edwards added his Thumbograph as the first modern player.

Harry Mynnott & Jon Corbett's Thumb-o-graphs are illustrated in John McCrystal's book on the 1905 All Blacks "The Originals" published 2005 by Random House, NZ

Thumbographs is exhibited at the Neath Rugby 125 Exhibition - CLICK HERE TO SEE THE EXHIBITION


Thank you for visiting this page. If you are able to contribute any other stories, photos or information to this page, please email us.


related exhibits

Wales v NZ   -  1906-07 Springboks


related memorabilia


1905 Wales limited edition print - CLICK HERE


1906 Springboks limited edition print - CLICK HERE





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