Playing Record : P26, W17, D4, L5, Pts for 247, Pts against 62.
Club Captain : Evan Richards
Leading Try Scorer : W.H. Jones 9
Leading Points Scorer : Dai Gwynn 55
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Following the success in the South Wales Challenge Cup of the previous season and Swansea winning its second piece of silverware, enthsiasm was general for Evan Richards to remain at his post as captain of the 1st XV. The Western Mail (Saturday 30th July 1887) records that the AGM of the Football side of the Cricket and Football Club took place on Friday 29th July at the Agricultural Hall. “……. Mr F Carlisle then proposed the re-election of Mr E S Richards as captain for the ensuing year, stating that this was the name apon everyone’s lips, though it had been suggested that he would decline the offer. He thought they should, as far as possible insist upon his acceptance. The name of Mr Richards was received with loud and sustained cheers.” W H Gwynn seconded the proposal and a reluctant Richards, for his work committments left him little time to perform the captain’s duties, responded: “Mr Richards said he thought it incumbent upon him to resign to office this season as he found his engagements would prevent his attending all the matches but with that reservation, as they had received him so kindly, he, with pleasure accepted the office again. He believed the team had before them a still more successful season than that of last year. Many of the old members would be playing with them again. There were one or two things which had to be wiped out, such as the Dewsbury affair (cheers).” On 15th Feb 1886 Swansea had drawn a game with Dewesbury having dominated the play. This was on the Yorkshire tour and followed a loss to Hull two days before. “He believed the reputation Swansea had gained of playing an honest, fair and open game would be maintained (loud cheers).” George Bowen was elected Vice captain of the 1st XV and W H Gwynn’s proposal to form a 3rd XV was accepted, illustrating the strength in depth at the club.
Evan Sloane Richards, a mining engineer, captained Swansea for 2 seasons, 1886/87 and 1887/88. he captained the side that won the South Wales Challenge Cup in 1886-87.
He played for Wales against England in 1885 and against Scotland in 1887. Richards refereed both the Cardiff and Newport matches versus the NZ Maoris in 1888.
His father, E.M.Richards, was the Liberal Member of Parliament for Cardiganshire from 1868-1874.
The season opened with a drawn match away to Cardiff Harhequins in October 1887 on a clear but chilly day. Despite Richards’ pre-season optimism regarding experienced players’ availability, the club was without five players who’d appeared in the cup matches of the previous campaign. Although the club were to be blessed with great play makers in the near future (with Bancroft in the wings), and though Dai Gwynn was regularly contributing points from the boot, the loss of old heads disrupted a season that had begun with great hopes of building on the Cup success of 1886-87.
Whilst the end of season figures showed 17 wins and 4 draws from 26 matches played, the All Whites rallied toward the end and the improvement was illustrated with a win over Lampeter College at St Helens on 4th march 1888 despite International call-ups for Lansdowne Road against Ireland. Swansea recorded a score of 3 goals and 4 minors to 4 minors. Llanelli lowered Swansea’s colours at Stradey Park on 24th March but the side had stuck together and a new impetus was in evidence to encourage the faithful. Dai Gwynn had ended the season as top points scorer (on 55) and three-quarter back W H Jones topped the try count with nine.
On 4th February 1888 wales played Scotland at Rodney Parade, Newport and recorded their first ever win over the Scots. It was a close match with a single disputed Welsh try the difference between them. Swansea half-back George Bowen was joined by his club team mates, forwards: John Meredith, William Howell and Tom Williams, all of whom were gaining their first Welsh caps this day.
Wales played Ireland out in Lansdowne Road, Dublin on 3rd March 1888 and were beaten by a goal, a drop goal and a try to nil. Bowen again played in what was to be his last of 4 appearances for Wales. He was again joined by Swansea team mates Meredith, Howells and Williams. Howells and Williams were each gaining the last of their 2 caps for Wales.
The Wales team that played Scotland at Rodney Parade, Newport on 4th February 1888. Wales won by 1 try to nil. This was Wales’ first ever victory over Scotland. Four Swansea players were in the team, three of which made their international debuts.
Back Row (L to R): J Meredith (Swansea), A J Gould (Newport), R Powell (Newport), A F Hill (Cardiff), T P Jenkins (London Welsh), A Duncan (Cardiff), W H Howells (Swansea),
2nd Row (L to R): G E Bowen (Swansea), A Bland (Cardiff), T J S Clapp (Newport) [captain], O J Evans (Cardiff), W H Thomas (London Welsh), T Williams (Swansea), W J Stadden (Dewesbury),
Front Row (L to R): E J Roberts (Llanelli), Q D Kedzlie (Cardiff).
(Courtesy WRU Archives)
Wales Cap of Swansea forward W H Howell v Scotland 1888. Howell also had played for Llandovery College. At Swansea he often turned out at half-back. His two Welsh caps were won as a forward in 1888 against Scotland and Ireland. This is the oldest international cap in the club’s possession. (donator: from Southborough, Tunbridge, Kent).(Club Archive).