The club were championship runners-up for the 3rd time in 4 seasons.
Club Captain : Jack Rees
Playing Record : P39, W26, D5, L8, Pts for 400, Pts against 208.
Leading Try Scorer : Dudley Folland 10
Leading Points Scorer : Not Known
Club Honours : Welsh Championship Runners-Up
Capped v South Africa : Claude Davey, Tom Day, Watcyn Thomas, Will Davies (d)
Capped v England : Claude Davey, Tom Day, Watcyn Thomas, Will Davies, Dai Thomas
Capped v Scotland : Claude Davey, Tom Day, Watcyn Thomas, Will Davies, Dai Thomas
Capped v Ireland : Claude Davey, Tom Day, Watcyn Thomas, Will Davies, Dai Thomas
Back Row (L to R): W J Faull, Ernest Davies JP, Lewis Jones MP, R S Palmer (Hon. Secretary), PC Rhys L Evans, Dennis Hunt, J Gwilliam, D Edgar Thomas, Glyn Davies, Gwyngor Lewis, Eddie Long, T A Hill, Clifford Cowling, M Bowen, Trevor Davies, Tom Harry, Bruce Barter.
2nd Row (L to R): Tom Day, W Davies, C Davies, I Davies, Idwal Rees, Jack Rees (captain), Bryn Evans, L V Michael, I Herbert, Glyn Jones, Joe White, R W Dowdle.
Front Row (L to R): Dudley Folland, D Emlyn Davies.
This was a very good season for the All Whites. After the mixed results of the previous campaign, Jack Rees, a policeman who played in the middle of the back row at Lock (as it was then called), took over the Captaincy. He built a solid pack that was the best in Wales; the Backs played with more pace and creativity than in previous Seasons. There was great expectancy amongst the supporters with the South African Tourists due to play at St. Helen’s in October.
The Season started with a bang! Bristol, Cardiff and Penarth were beaten at St Helen’s whilst Bath and Aberavon were defeated away. By the time the South Africans had arrived in Swansea, the All Whites were still unbeaten and sat at the top of the Championship Table. The South Africans were seeking revenge for their defeat on their last visit.
The Boks won the match 10-3. Two missed tackles just before Half-Time allowed the South Africans to gain a 10-0 lead. In the Second half, the Tourists sat on their lead as the All Whites began to get on top. Claude Davey scored a great try just before the final whistle.
The next game at home to Neath saw another defeat by 14 points to 3 and some critics predicted a decline for the Swansea team. It was not to be, as the Whites were made of sterner stuff. Away wins at Cardiff and Newport soon followed with the victory at Rodney Parade being the first at that ground since before World War 1. By the end of the year, the Whites still topped the Table with wins over Gloucester, Leicester, Watsonians and London Welsh. The club went down to a narrow third defeat at Bridgend.
The second half of the Season did not quite live up to expectations. Although some fine victories were recorded, the Whites often failed to stamp their authority on a game, resulting in a few draws and narrow defeats. Cardiff were beaten four times. The Whites took Llanelli’s two year ground record Wins were recorded over Bridgend, Harlequins, Coventry (at home), Cross Keys, Bristol and Aberavon.
Games with Leicester, Coventry (away), Newport, the Champions Elect Pontypool, were all drawn. Once again Llanelli had the better of Swansea, winning two and drawing one of the four games played. Other defeats were by Neath, Barbarians and Gloucester.
Individually, many Swansea players impressed the Selectors. Wing Forward Will Davies, Prop Tom Day, Centre Claude Davey and Second Rows Dai Thomas and Watcyn Thomas were all capped. Davies had a great Season and was outstanding for club and Country against the touring South Africans. Day was now a regular in the Welsh Team as a strong scrummager and a hard worker in the loose. Davey and Watcyn Thomas played their rugby in England but turned out for Swansea during holiday periods. Policeman Dai Thomas, was the “hard man” of the pack. Having recovered from numerous injuries, he was back to form and regained his place in the Welsh Team. Dai excelled in the big games and in difficult conditions. He was undoubtedly the Geoff Wheel of his day!
Scrum Half Bryn Evans, a Penclawdd product, earned a Welsh Trial and had a great game. Carmarthen schoolboy Ronnie Morris and Dai Jenkins (another Penclawdd product) were exciting Outside Halves. Full Back Iorrie Herbert from Resolven, developed as a tackler, kicker and defender. Up front Hooker Gwynfor Lewis (yet another Penclawdd product) and Prop Glyn Jones were top class scrummagers and youngster, Joe White, formed a fine Second Row partnership with Dai Thomas.
With the All Whites doing so well in the Unofficial Championship, there was a lot of discussion by Pendragon in the South Wales Daily Post. The Table was based on % wins and all fixtures deemed 1st Class were included. However, teams had different Fixture Lists which meant that those teams with easier games often featured at the top of the Table. For instance, in 1931-32, Swansea played South Africa, Barbarians, Cardiff and Llanelly four times each! This contrasted with weaker clubs who chalked-up victories in games that were hardly 1st Class. This argument continued until the 1990’s when leagues were brought in and all teams played the same fixtures.
POSTSCRIPT; The article above was written to complete the research done on Swansea’s fixtures for the 1931-32 Season, which is part of an extended project to fill in the gaps in our archives that were destroyed by the Blitz of February 1941. There are currently three Swansea supporters involved in this fascinating work on the tremendously rich history of one of the greatest rugby clubs. If you would like to join in or learn more about the research, ask at the club for the Archives Team and we will explain the methods used in what is an absorbing voyage of discovery.
Sources: South Wales Daily Post
by Rob Phillips
Springboks Still Winning – Wales 3 South Africa 8 at Swansea 5 Dec 1931 (Courtesy Pathe News) – CLICK ON IMAGE BELOW TO WATCH MOVIE
Match Programme – Swansea v South Africa 10 Oct 1931. (Courtesy Bleddyn Hopkins).
played host to the touring Springboks who had beaten Wales there against
all expectation in 1906 and lost to Swansea in an historic victory for
the Club in 1912 (see 1906-07 & 1912-13 seasons). South Africa on
the third game of their 1931-32 Tour in Britain and Ireland, were out
for revenge for that loss at the ground. The Springboks this time were a
very different side from those two previous touring parties. Where the
first tourists had been a dynamic combination of power in the forwards
and speed and strength in the backs, those of 1912 were a more robust
forward oriented side. Now Bennie Osler’s tourists seldom got to show
what the three quarters could achieve as he favoured the kicking game in
almost any conditions. He later admitted that this was due to his lack
of form on the tour. It meant however, that the huge forwards dominated
the encounters and this was the pattern of the game at St Helens on a
bright, sunny day in October. It was felt in the press that the tourists
had not had questions asked of their back line and that a Swansea side,
unbeaten in domestic competition at this point would have the forwards
to wrestle control of the game and give the crowd a spectacle of loose
play among opposing backs. The aggressive rushes by the Springboks
forwards prevented Swansea from developing any attacks and despite the
rugged play of skipper Jack Rees and the thumping defensive tackling of
Claude Davey at centre.
Davey had been recalled from Manchester where he was playing for Sale
and was the only capped player among the backs. Fly-half Idwal Rees and
scrum-half Bryn Lewis were to go on to gain caps. In the pack, Lock Dai
Thomas and front row Tom Day were Internationals with Eddie Long and
Will Davies to be capped in future.
For the South Africans, Bennie Osler stood down to allow Danie Craven to
get his first match in Wales at scrum-half. With the Springboks being
forced ever wider to avoid Davey’s crash tackling infield, they worked
the wing G H Brand free with a kick from centre Van der Westhuizen and
Brand scored in the corner. The Springbok centre was put into space a
minute later after an overlap killed the Swansea defence. Both were
converted by Brand for a 10 – 0 half time lead.
Despite struggling to gain possession, the home side prevented the
visitors from improving on their score and it was the Swansea forwards
from a heel in midfield, that broke through the rugged defence. Idwal
Rees cut through and linked with Bryn Lewis to put wing forward Will
Davies in enough space where he punted on. The bounce beat everyone but
Claude Davey who snapped it up at full tilt to cross the line. Idwal
Rees’ conversion attempt rebounded from the post. Though two missed
tackles had allowed the tourists through, the Swansea men had stood toe
to toe with the towering Springbok forwards with Tom Day everywhere and
Eddie Long and Will Davies tackling themselves to a standstill.
The Swansea team on that day was :
I Herbert, DP Manley, C Davey, J Dark, Rhys Evans, Bryn Evans, Idwal
Rees, Jack Rees (captain), D Thomas, Tom Day, Glyn Jones, Gwynfor Lewis,
Joe White, E Long, Will Davies.
The South African Team was: J C Tindall, J H Van der Westhuizen, J C Van
der Westhuizen (captain), F W Waring, G H Brand, M G Francis, D H
Craven, M M ‘Boy’ Louw, H G Kipling, S C Louw, A J Van der Merwe, V
Geere, H M Forrest, G M Daneel, J A J McDonald.
When the South Africans came to Swansea on a balmy October day in 1931,
they must have felt at home. They came with the intention of avenging
the defeat suffered by them in 1912 at the hands of the “All Whites” and
they did just that. Whilst we had been unbeaten up to the time we
played them, we found that the Springboks were taller and heavier than
we were, and they used those physical advantages very effectively.
Despite tremendous Swansea tackling – with the great Claude Davey in the
thick of things – the visitors controlled the match from start to
finish. Yet, every “All White” gave his all that day, with Jack Rees,
Tom Day and Eddie Lang prominent. Among the South Africans that day was a
player called Danie Craven, who was to have a big influence on their
rugby in years to come.
On the day, with five minutes to go the tourists were leading by ten
clear points. Van der Vesthuizen scored a fine try, with another by
Brand, then “The Whites” hit back! Following a forward rush, the ball
was hacked ahead, and the ever-alert Claude Davey ‘crashed through’ to
take the all on the bounce to score.
Contributed by the late Horace Phillips, Swansea and Wales wing.
Western Mail cartoon reminds the tourists that Swansea are unbeaten. (Courtesy Bleddyn Hopkins).
Bryn Evans brought down after getting the ball from a loose scrum. (Club Archive).
Springboks pass the ball from a lineout. (Club Archive).
A Springbok in action. To avoid a low tackle, a South African takes to the air. (Club Archive).
10th October 1931 Swansea 3 v South Africa 10 at St Helens Swansea.
Springboks get the ball from a lineout. (Club Archive).
Manley effects a low tackle. (Club Archive).
Swansea pass the ball out of a scrum but are immediately tackled. (Club Archive).
10th October 1931 Swansea 3 v South Africa 10 at St Helens Swansea.
Held up by South Africans, W Davies kicks the ball into touch. (Club Archive).