Playing Record : P32, W31, D0, L1, Pts for 586, Pts against 57.
Club Captain : Billy Bancroft
Leading Try Scorer : Billy Trew 31
Leading Points Scorer :Billy Bancroft and Billy Trew 93
Club Honours : Champions
Capped v England : Billy Bancroft (c), Billy Trew (d), Dan Rees (d), George Davies (d), Bob Thomas (d)
Capped v Scotland : Billy Bancroft (c), Billy Trew, George Davies, Bob Thomas
Capped v Ireland : Billy Bancroft (c), Billy Trew, George Davies, Bob Thomas
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Swansea RFC 1st XV 1899-1900 Season
Back Row(L to R): Harry Ball (Trainer), F E Perkins (Sec.), A Jones, W Parker, W Joseph, D Harris, J A Smith, F Scrines, Sam Rice (Touch Judge).
2nd Row(L to R): R Thomas, F G Gordon, Dan Rees, W J Bancroft (Captain), G Davies, W J Trew, H Davies.
Front Row(L to R): S Bevan, R M Owens, R Jones.
Original Photograph from February 1900. (Club Archive)
Swansea RFC 2nd XV 1899-1900 Season
Back Row(L to R): Dai Davies, ?, ?, ?, J A Smith, ?, ?, ?, ?, ?.
2nd Row(L to R): ?, ?, Ernie Morgans, W J Hill (Captain), ?, W R Arnold, ?.
Front Row(L to R): ?, D Harries, ?, ?. (Club Archive)
Re-elected to the captaincy for the fourth successive season, Billy Bancroft was determined Swansea would improve on the previous season’s triumph of Welsh Champions by sterner application in training and development on the pitch. The ‘improved application’ was confirmed in November against old rivals Newport who were beaten 21 – 6 at St Helens in front of a crowd of nearly 10,000. Up till that point, Swansea had played and won 9 games amassing 184 points with just 6 against. In the next game 1200 supporters traveled to Cardiff to see a Swansea win which was delivered despite the absence of Bancroft through injury. Dickie Owen and Dick Jones were singled out for praise in running this game while George Davies and Billy Trew made strong claims to be selected for Wales.
W J “Billy” Trew made his debut for Swansea aged 17 in 1897 at Penarth and became a regular in1898 on the wing scoring 33 tries that season, more than anyone else in Wales. He soon came to the notice of the Welsh selectors. In 1899-1900 he repeated the feat with 31 tries. This achievement at such a young age gained him his first cap aged 20 in 1900 (scoring a try against England) but his true footballing genius was not to be established on the big stage till 1907. he captained Swansea for six seasons, a club record alongside Billy Bancroft. (Club Archive)
On the annual Midlands Tour, Leicester were current holders of the Midlands Cup and unbeaten but lost that record to Swansea at Welford Road. Northampton were despatched next but at the cost of injury to Billy Trew. Of slight frame and with a vulnerable appearance, Trew along with the diminutive Owen, received the particular attention of defences as their importance to Swansea play became apparent to opponents. Yet he always seemed to recover quickly.
On return to domestic fixtures, Swansea remained undefeated until late December when the record was lost in an away game to Llanelli. With the unbeaten run finally over, Swansea played with a greater freedom and the Owen/Jones half back partnership flourished. Traditional Christmas visitors Watsonians were beaten with George Davies in fine form and going on to give a great performance against England in the International. The All Whites went on to beat Gloucester where Trew gave a shining display of elusive running. Aberavon followed in a scrappy game at St Helens marred by overzealous use of the referee’s whistle. Cardiff succumbed by 16 points to nil. Then Newport were beaten at Rodney Parade by 2 goals to a try in a fine match.
This photograph gives a good view of the Old Pavilion at St Helens. The great W J “Billy” Bancroft is seated in the front row (second from left) in cricket attire. His father and he were heavily involved in the maintenance of the ground (having a cottage at the Mumbles End for many years)and in the Swansea 1st XI. Billy Bancroft was a professional cricketer making his Glamorgan debut in their first ever match in 1889 and becoming their first professional player in 1895. Continuing the family groundsman tradition, he helped keep the St Helens ground after his retirement from first class sport and in 1914 helped coach many young cricketers, including Gilbert Parkhouse, who went on to play for England. (Club Archive)
In March, the long awaited return match with Stade Francais took place at St Helens following from Swansea’s successful outing as the first Welsh side to play in France (16th April 1899). An impressive 41 – 0 win was the result and a post match banquet enhanced the ties between these two clubs (though the Welsh Union stepped in to prevent a planned second visit to France by banning Sunday matches – even abroad!). Llanelli and Neath were overcome next though Billy Trew was again injured in the Neath game. Devonport Albion fell to a Swansea side playing Champagne Football on the West Country tour. Northampton then conceded 35 points scoring just 3 in reply and this after having won their last 30 matches! By season’s end Swansea were again crowned Welsh Champions with an incredible record of 31 wins from 32 matches. The 2nd XV had also excelled losing just one game. At a banquet to celebrate the season’s success, both team’s players were presented with medals and Sir John Llewellyn was toasted as “a President without precedent”.
The Hotel Metropole in Swansea was the venue for the Dinner in honour of the visiting Stade Francais team, thus returning the hospitality given to Swansea Rugby Football club in Paris on their ground breaking trip to France the season before. The fixture was not however to become a regular feature as the Welsh Union forbade Sunday matches (even abroad!) which prevented a Swansea return to the French Capital.
Wales beat England 13 – 3 at Gloucester on 16th January 1900. Billy Bancroft who captained Wales in all three Internationals was joined this day by Swansea centres Dan Rees and George Davies, forward Bob Thomas and wing Billy Trew. These 4 Swansea players were making their International debut and Trew celebrated his with a fine try. Wales beat Scotland at St Helens 12 – 3 on January 27th in front of 40,000 with Bancroft (uncharacteristically missing 4 conversion attempts) joined again by Swansea’s Trew, Davies and Thomas. The Triple Crown was won in Belfast when Ireland were beaten (3 – 0) by a George Davies try though he knew little about it being knocked cold immediately after by a kick to the mouth. Bancroft was captain again and Bob Thomas and Billy Trew brought Swansea representation up to 4 to cap the Club’s most successful season to date.
This is Swansea forward Fred Scrine‘s Wales final trial cap of 1900. Scrine played three times for Wales between 1899 and 1901. He also scored the try that nearly beat the All Blacks at St Helens in December 1905.
George Davies (above left) made his Swansea debut in 1895 at centre and gained his first Welsh cap in 1900. He moved to full-back as Billy Bancroft retired and took over kicking duties. His later caps (1905) were due to his play in Swansea’s “Invincible” season of 1904-05 and were to be in at full-back with kicking duties. Dan Rees (above right) was born circa 1876 and made his Swansea debut in 1897 versus Devonport Albion. He played as a centre for Wales on 5 occasions. He was also part of the ”Invincibles” squad of 1904/05 (vice captain). He was a prolific try scorer for Swansea before he joined Hull KR in October 1905. (Club Archive)
Bob Thomas was a Swansea forward who won four Welsh caps between 1900 and 1901. These were at the latter end of a distinguished career for his club which began in 1892. His retirement at the end of the 1900-01 season, which saw Swansea win the Championship for the third successive season, was due to a head injury. This probably contributed to his early death aged 39 in 1910.
Forward’s scrum Cap circa 1900. This leather scrum cap belonged to Swansea forward Bob Thomas who retired in 1901. It is typical of the style of headgear worn in this period with lattice work on the top and by the ears. (Kindly made available to photograph by Mr Howard Kent who is directly descended from Bob Thomas through his mother Ethel Thomas.)
This Welsh Trials jersey belonged to Swansea forward Bob Thomas. He played in four games for Wales in 1900 and 1901 including all the Triple Crown matches of 1900. (Kindly made available to photograph by Mr Howard Kent who is directly descended from Bob Thomas through his mother Ethel Thomas.)