1886-87 Season

Club Captain : Evan Richards

Club Honours : South Wales Challenge Cup Winners (2nd occasion)

Capped v England: William Bowen, D Morgan

Capped v Scotland : Dai GwynnGeorge Bowen (d), William Bowen, Evan Richards, D Morgan

Capped v Ireland : George Bowen, William Bowen, D Morgan, William Towers (d)

(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.

The Swansea Team of 1886-87 who won the South wales challenge Cup in this season. This is one of the oldest known team photograph (albeit a collage from that date) in the Club’s possession.

Top Row (L to R:): George James, Sam Goldsworthy, George Bowen.
2nd Row (L to R): G L Morris, W H Jones, Tom Williams, Dai Gwynn.
3rd Row (L to R:) W H Howells, E S Richards, E Thorogood.
4th Row (L to R:) William Bowen, W H Gwynn, E Bishop, W H Towers.
Bottom Row (L to R:) J Meredith, D Morgan.

(Club Archive)

 Swansea won the South Wales Challenge Cup beating Llanelli by 1 goal to nil at Newport. This was the last of 4 occasions in which Swansea were finalists in the Challenge Cup which was instigated by the South Wales Football Club in1877 to promote the game. This was in fact, the last season that the cup was played for by Premier Welsh clubs though it was reintroduced for the minor leagues in 1889. Swansea’s Second XV had a successfull season and won the Minor Districts Challenge Cup at St Helens on 27th December, beating Morriston by 1 goal, 2 tries and 5 minors to nil (Cambrian 2nd Jan 1887). they were captained by E. Reid.

The season’s success may best be judged in a Cambrian article from near the end of the 1886-87 campaign which runs:


“Now that the football season will soon be on the wane, perhaps it will be of interest to give the achievements of the Swansea first XV up to date. They have played 22 matches, won 13, drawn 6 and only lost three, a meritorious result which deserves all praise. Their opponents only defeated our men by very small scores. Newport gained two victories over Swansea, both in the former town, but Swansea fully showed their superiority when they met Newport a few weeks ago in the semi-final match for the Challenge Cup by gaining a victory by 1 goal (dropped by David Gwynn), 1 try and five minors to 2 minors scored by Newport; also in a friendly game (October 23rd last) by 2 goals, 2 tries and 4 minors to 2 tries and 3 minors; therefore Newport cannot with justice state that they are a superior team to ours. The other defeat was at the hands of Swinton, one of the best clubs in the country, but when the latter played the return match here it ended in a draw in favour of Swansea. We have gained victories over the Cardiff Harlequins twice, Lampeter College once, Newport twice, Gloucester once, Cardiff once, carmarthen twice, Neath twice, Llanelly twice. We have yet to play Llanelly next Saturday, and then in turn at Swansea, we try conclusions with Gloucester, Llanelly, Cardiff, Broughton Rangers and Dewesbury. there is some doubt about Cardiff playing at St Helens, although it is stated so on our fixtures, but it is most probable they will give us another return at home. We have played drawn games with Moseley (Birmingham), Llanelly, Neath, Swinton (Manchester), Broughton Rangers and Dewesbury. On Saturday next we meet our old friends Llanelly on their own ground, a match which will assuredly create great interest from the fact that Swansea now holds the Challenge Cup, therefore Llanelly will strain every nerve to endeavour to reverse the defeat they sustained at Newport in the final match for the Cup. let it be hoped our men will come home victorious.”[Cambrian 4th Mar 1887]

These were medals belonging to W. H. HowellsE. S. Richards (captain), presented for winning the South Wales Challenge Cup in 1886/87. This was the 2nd (and final) occasion Swansea had won the cup following on from 1879/80.

Evan Richards also captained Swansea in 1883/84 and 1887/88 as well as playing as a forward for Wales on 2 occasions against England in 1885 and Scotland in 1887.

(Club Archive)

A woodcut print of the Swansea RFC 1st XV at the end of the 1886-87 season after winning the South Wales Challenge Cup for the second time. This was the last year of the competition for senior clubs. The original illustration appeared in “The Illustrated Sporting And Dramatic News” magazine of 16 April 1887 (p117). The original photograph has not yet come to light.
Back Row (L to R): W H Gwynn, W H Jones, G Bowen, G L Morris, D Morgan, S Goldsworthy (Umpire), T Williams, W H Towers, J Meredith, W Bowen.
2nd Row (L to R): W H Howells, D Gwynn (vice-captain), E S Richards (captain), E Thorogood.
Front Row (L to R): G James, E Bishop.

(David Dow collection).


The achievement of a second win in the South Wales Challenge Cup did much to increase gates at St Helens (“… never have such gates been known in Swansea as those which have been seen at the Cricket Field within the last three or four months”) as the visiting teams of Gloucester and Llanelli tried to beat the Cup holders without success. Llanelli had been played 5 times by season’s end and only achieved one draw at best. The Cambrian goes on to assert: “the fact of Swansea winning the Cup may therefore be looked apon as a security for the game attaining a popularity with those who are now inclined to denounce it.”

Swansea’s advances at Club level were reflected this season with six players representing the club in Wales’ internationals. Wales played England for the sixth time and at Stradey Park for the first on 8th January 1887. The game was a scoreless draw. This was a good result for Wales who’d suffered 5 defeats in a row since the start of international fixtures. The game was played on the cricket field as the adjoining rugby pitch was frozen and the visitors refused to play on it. Swansea forwards Dai morgan and William Bowen played in this match, Morgan gaining his 4th of 7 caps and Bowen his 3rd of 13. Scotland brushed aside the Welsh challenge at Raeburn Place Edinburgh, on 26th February 1887 by 12 tries and 4 conversions to nil. Wales battled hard, down to 14 men in the second half and carrying Cardiff’s Douglas as an injured passenger for the latter part. They would have to wait till the following season for their first win over the Scots. Swansea back David Gwynn gained his second of 6 caps in this match and was joined by Swansea forwards Dai Morgan, William Bowen, George Bowen and Swansea captain Evan Richards (gaining his second and last cap). George Bowen was making his international debut this day. Wales’ home fixture with Ireland was played at Birkenhead Park, Birkenhead in the North of England on 12th March in order to reduce the travelling expenses of the Irish team. This was the third time these two had played an international and Wales made it three out of three scoring 1 try and 1 drop goal to Ireland’s 3 tries. Four Swansea forwards played in this match: George Bowen, William Bowen, Dai Morgan and WH Towers who won his first of 2 caps this day. The match was also significant for Dai Morgan and his Swansea Club as he scored the first international try by a Swansea player in the victory over the Irish.