THE STORY OF SWANSEA RFC
IN THE 1912-13 SEASON
Club Captain : Billy Trew
Playing Record : P37, W29, D6, L2, Pts for 457, Pts against 82.
Leading Try Scorer : Frank Holbrook 15
Leading Points Scorer : Jack Bancroft 60
Club Honours : Champions
Capped v South Africa : Bert Hollingdale (d)
Capped v England : Bert Hollingdale
Capped v Scotland : Billy Trew (c), Howell Lewis (d), Rev Alban Davies (d)
Capped v France : Billy Trew (c), Howell Lewis, Rev Alban Davies, Tom Williams
Capped v Ireland : Jack Bancroft, Bryn Lewis, Howell Lewis, Rev Alban Davies
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Swansea RFC 1st XV 1912-13 Season
Top Row (L to R): Ben Williams, Rev. J A Davies, Sid Jerram, F E Perkins (Sec), G Owen, Bob Dowdle (Trainer), W Parker (Linesman).
2nd Row (L to R): Howell Lewis, Jack Bancroft, W J Trew (captain), Dick Williams, Dai Williams, Bryn Lewis.
3rd Row (L to R):Frank Williams, Oswald Jenkins.
bottom Row (L to R): Edgar Morgan, Tom Morgan, Tom Williams, George Evans, D J Thomas (Vice-captain), George Hayward, H Moulton, Bert Hollingdale, Tom Parker.
On Boxing Day 1912, Swansea surprised everyone by gaining a famous victory over the South Africans,on their second tour of Britain, those ‘of grand physique and exceptional speed’, by a try (DJ Thomas) to nil. This was despite playing 20 minutes of the match with only 14 men. Billy Millar's Springboks would have been forgiven for thinking the match would be postponed due to torrential rain flooding the pitch. Despite the great 'self healing' powers of the famous St Helens pitch, drastic measures were needed and ground staff had to cut drains across the pitch to allow it to dry out. Contemporary reports tell of a tourist washing his hands in a huge midfield pool of water at half time. Leading up to this encounter, South Africa had beaten Wales on December 14th at Cardiff Arms Park by 3 points to nil. Swansea's Horace Thomas and Bert Hollingdale played in that match. Billy Millar was chosen as the Springbok's Tour Skipper despite being the last player selected for the tour and was not a popular choice with the squad nor with visiting hosts being seen as a 'fiery character'. But he had the experience along with D F Morkel and F J Dobbin of having toured Britain with the original Springbok tourists of 1906. It was not to be enough as, in front of a crowd of 35,000 Swansea's W J "Billy" Trew mastermided the home team's victory with astute tactical innovations such as withdrawing two men from the pack to be additional defenders against the Springboks' challenge.
These days, we are well used to getting into an aeroplane and flying to another country in a matter of hours. When the first South African touring party came to the UK in 1912, they left Capetown on 11th September and did not arrive here until 28th. Their first game was on 5th October.
Prior to the match at St Helens, the South Africans had had an impressive record, whilst "The Whites" were the only unbeaten side in Wales. Billy Trew in the autumn of his career, was captain, and played in the centre with a young man at outside half (Syd Jerram) and another leading the pack (D.J.Thomas). Thomas it was who capped a fine performance by scoring the only try of the match (after twenty minutes of the game). Indeed it was the only score and "The Whites" had beaten their second major touring side in succession.
The Springbok captain, W.A. Miller, worked manfully to strike back at the home line, and there were fine performances from J Morkel, Luyt and Stegman. On that occasion there were four Morkels in the South African line-up.
Contributed by Horace Phillips
The Swansea team on that memorable Boxing day occasion in 1912 was :
D Williams, H Lewis, WJ Trew (captain), T Williams, F Williams, S Jerram, O Jenkins, DJ Thomas, T Morgan, E Morgan, B Williams, B Hollingdale, G Hayward, H Moulton, G Evans.
The South African Team was: P G Morkel, J Stegman, R R Luyt, J Morkel, EE McHardy, F J Luyt, F J Dobbin, D F T Morkrl, G Thompson, A S Knight, W H Morkel, S Leger, J A J Francis, W A Millar (captain), J D Luyt.
Referee: J R C Greenless(Scottish Rugby Union). (Courtesy John Gallard Manager SA Rugby Museum)
This was the 24th match of the tour for the Springboks and only the third (and last) defeat.
As well as defeating the South Africans that season, Swansea were able to maintain their form and were crowned Welsh club champions.
The Swansea team that defeated South Africa on Boxing Day 1912 - Collage speacially designed to mark the 100th anniversary of the victory in 2012-13 (Club Archive).
Above: An article in the South Wales Daily Post of December 27th 1912, hailing the famous win at St Helens. (David Dow collection)
Above: A rare Match Programme from the Swansea v South Africa match (Club Archive)
Above: A post match dinner was held at the Hotel Metropol where the South Africans were treated as guests of honour. (Club Archive).
A letter received in February 2013 from the SARU commemorating the centenary of Swansea's win over the 1912 Springboks. (Club Archive)
Above: A dinner menu from the post match function after Glamorgan played the 1912 Springboks (October 17th). The Springboks won emphatically by 2 goals, 1 dropped goal, 1 penalty goal and 6 tries to a single try. Bryn Lewis, Tom Williams and Tom Morgan represented the Swansea team in the Glamorgan side. (Courtesy: Ellis Rugby).
A match programme from the Scotland v Wales match on February 1st 1913 at Inverleith, Edinbugh. wales won by 2 tries and a conversion to nil. Billy Trew captained the side and was the only player in the Welsh side who'd previously played against Scotland. He was joined by Swansea team mates Howell Lewis and the Rev Alban Davies, both making their international debut. (Courtesy: Ellis Rugby).
A dinner menu from the France v Wales match of February 27th 1913 which Wales won by 3 tries and 1 conversion to 2 tries and 1 conversion. Again Billy Trew captained the side and Howel Lewis and Rev. Alban Davies were joined by their Swansea team mate Tom Williams, gaining his second cap. (Courtesy: Ellis Rugby).