Playing Record : P29, W22, D3, L4, Pts for 240, Pts against 56.
Club Captain : William Bowen
Leading Try Scorer : John Meredith 9
Leading Points Scorer : Billy Bancroft 54
Club Honours : ‘Premier’ Club of Wales
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Played: 29, Won: 22, Lost: 4, Drawn: 3. Points for: 240, Against: 56. Honours: Premier Team of Wales.
This is one of the earliest photographs of Swansea players in the club’s possession. Among the new players are W J Bancroft (2nd Row 5th from left), and the James brothers Evan and David (Front Row 1st & 3rd from left), all in their first season with the Swansea.
The 1889-90 season marked the Club’s transition from a side that could win Cups (having won the ‘Challenge Cup’ twice) to one who ended the season as the ‘Premier’ Club in Wales. In fact the All Whites were unbeaten until an away fixture at Newport in February 1890 when 1500 Swansea supporters took the train to Rodney parade only to see their side lose out in the Newport mud. Swansea had won 21 of the 24 fixtures to date and drawn the other 3 games. Following this defeat, Cardiff also lowered the Swansea colours (Swansea playing with only 14 men) as did Swinton and finally, Llanelli in an extra fixture to raise money for the Morfa Explosion Fund. Swansea Captain William Bowen in his first of a 3 season tenure of the position, had led his side to the top and the Club boasted 6 Welsh Internationals. The Cambrian newspaper echoed the thoughts of the players, Committee and supporters in attributing the season’s success in no small measure to Bowen’s leadership and example being “always in the thick of the fray.”
Walter Rice Evans was a Swansea forward who played three time for Wales, making his debut this season against Scotland. He also played for Neath and London Welsh.
On 1st February 1890 Wales lost to Scotland at Cardiff Arms Park but the date’s other significance was that it marked the International debut of one WJ Bancroft at Full back for Wales. Newport Full back Tom England who was injured prior to the game, made way for the 19 year old Bancroft who was in his first season with Swansea having made his debut only on October 5th 1889 (away at Newport) and played just 17 games for the All Whites. Within the month, he had gained two more and went on to win 33 consecutive Caps for Wales, all at full back. Poor old Tom England never got another chance to play for Wales. Billy Bancroft, although in his first term for the Club, remarkably was to end his debut season as the Club’s leading points scorer with 54 points; a feat he repeated for the next five seasons. Records show him as holding this honour for 12 seasons in total, this despite the presence of other luminaries such as the irrepressable James Brothers (also in their first season at St Helens). Billy Bancroft was one of 5 Swansea players representing Wales on that February day in Cardiff (see ‘Club Honours’ at top of page). Evan James, and W Rice Evans were also winning their first Welsh Caps.
This is a season ticket for Swansea Rugby Football Team from the 1889-90 Season. The fixtures can be seen in the inside photograph below. The wording on the cover shows the close link between the Cricket and Rugby Football Clubs at St Helens. Rugby was now starting to bring more spectators and money into the ground than the Cricket, especially in this, their season as ‘Premier Club Of Wales’. (Club Archive).
The Welsh team that beat England for the first time. Dewsbury 15th February 1890. Wales 1 try, England nil.
2nd Row (L to R): D P M Lloyd (Llanelli), J Hannan (Newport), A J Gould (Newport) [captain], W H Thomas (Cambridge Univ. & Fishguard), W D Evans (Cardiff).
This alternative photo of the 1st Xv from 1889-90 was published in the Cambria Daily Leader retrospective in July 1907 on the news of former Swansea forward Harry Bevan’s death aged 47.
Swansea RFC 1st XV 1889-90.
Back Row (L to R): Tom Williams, Harry Bowen, Ned Charles, Dai Samuel, Billy Bowen, Harry Bevan, E C Copus (Referee), William Williams.
2nd Row (L to R): John Meredith, Frank Pearce, W J Bancroft, Evan James.
Front Row (L to R): Arthur Whapham, Dai Gwynn, David James, Teddy Bishop.