THE STORY OF SWANSEA RFC
IN THE 1908-09 SEASON
Playing Record : P33, W27, D2, L4, Pts for 368, Pts against 97.
Club Captain : Billy Trew
Leading Try Scorer : Ivor Morgan 18 (record number of tries in a season by a forward up to that time)
Leading Points Scorer : Jack Bancroft 101
Club Honours : Runners-up
Capped v Australia : George Hayward, Billy Trew (c), Dicky Owen, Dick Jones, Phil Hopkins (d), DJ Thomas, Ivor Morgan (d)
Capped v England : Billy Trew (c), Dicky Owen, Dick Jones, Phil Hopkins, Jack Bancroft (d), Ivor Morgan
Capped v Scotland : Billy Trew (c), Dicky Owen, Dick Jones, Jack Bancroft, Ivor Morgan
Capped v France : Billy Trew (c), Dicky Owen, Dick Jones, Jack Bancroft, Ivor Morgan
Capped v Ireland : Billy Trew (c), Dicky Owen, Dick Jones, Jack Bancroft, Phil Hopkins, Ivor Morgan
(d) = International debut, (c) = captain of international side.
Swansea RFC 1st XV 1908-09 Season
Back Row(L to R): Bob Dowdle (Trainer), F E Gordon, H Thomas, G Hayward, E Morgan, D J Thomas, D Davies, A Smith, F E Perkins (Sec.).
2nd Row(L to R): I Morgan, F Lewis, J Bancroft, W J Trew (C), P Hopkins, H Hunt, D Griffiths.
Front Row(L to R): R M Owen, H Toft, R H Jones.
The club enjoyed a successful season as runners up in the Welsh club championship, as well as defeating Australia.
December 2008 marked the Centenary of a great day in the history of Swansea Rugby Club. On 26th December 1908 the first Australian team to tour Britain arrived in Swansea to play the ‘All Whites’. With recent memories of the All Blacks match in 1905, anticipation was high and an enormous crowd of nearly 40,000 crammed into St Helens, netting the Club gate receipts of £2,100, a record in Wales at the time.Although 6 Swansea players had represented Glamorgan against the tourists in October and 7 in Wales’ 9 – 6 win on 12thDecember, several players had been injured in the recent home loss against Newport and the concern was that Swansea may not be able to give fair account of themselves.These concerns proved unfounded as the All Whites, led by the great Billy Trew recorded their first victory against a major touring side by 6 points to nil. There was a 'searching wind' and it was overcast and the light was not good. Jack Bancroft gave Swansea an early lead with a penalty kick and thereafter a stern forward battle ensued. Just as it seemed that the tourists were getting on top, at the front of a Swansea forward rush, Eddie Morgan lunged over for a try. The conversion was missed.in the second half, with the wind at their backs, the Aussies used the boot to good effect but the "Whites" tackled like demons and held fast. With ten minutes to go, the Australians were down to fourteen men but, using the wind well, kept up the pressure on the home line. However, Swansea survived and the final whistle went without further scoring.After the match the Wallabies admitted that Swansea’s stand-off Dick Jones had mesmerised them with his runs being impossible to read, “When he commences a run”, they said, “not a muscle on his face moves”.The Swansea team that day was: J. Bancroft, W.J. Trew (Capt.), P Hopkins, H Toft, H Thomas, R. M. Owen, R. Jones, D.J. Thomas, H Hunt, I Morgan, E Morgan, G Hayward, I Williams, D Griffiths, D Davies.The ‘invincible’ (1904/05 season) skipper Frank ‘Genny’ Gordon was the Swansea touch-judge that day.The Australians had arrived on these shores with the press labelling them as the ‘Rabbits’ in reference to the proliferation of rabbits in Australia since the British introduced them in the previous century. As the visitors took exception to the name, a poll was instigated among the squad and the most popular name (amongst Kangaroos, kookaburras & Wallaroos!) was the Wallabies and so they remain. Incidentally, they wore the blue jerseys of the Waratahs on this tour which was undertaken under the control of New South wales State. Australia have been beaten twice more at St Helens in 1966 and 1992 but this first victory put Swansea on the road to becoming the first Club side to beat all three southern hemisphere countries (South Africa – 1912, New Zealand – 1935).The Wallabies’ tour coincided with the 1908 London Olympics and an invitation was extended to them to play a British team for an Olympic Gold. Cornwall, the current English Champions duly obliged and were beaten 32 – 3 at Shepherds’ Bush. So it may also be fairly said that Swansea beat the Olympic Champions on that Boxing Day one hundred years ago.Swansea's contribution of a club record 7 players to the Wales team versus Australia was to be equalled against England in the next game, again against England in 1910 and then again in 1992/93.
Glamorgan team v Australia at Cardiff Arms Park 7th October 1908. Australia won 16 - 3. Swansea were represented by six players in the Glamorgan team with Dickie Owen as skipper. Phil Hopkins gained his first Welsh cap (against Australia in December 1908) after an impressive performance in this County match against the tourists.
Back Row (L to R): Mr T Williams (Llywynypia) Touch Judge, Ivor Morgan (Swansea), George Hayward (Swansea), J Brown (Cardiff), T C Lloyd (Neath), Dick Thomas (Mountain Ash).
2nd Row (L to R): Jim Casey (Cardiff), W Spiller (Cardiff), Phil Hopkins (Swansea), Dickie Owen (C) (Swansea, Fred Lewis (Swansea), Bert Winfield (Cardiff), J Pugsley (Cardiff).
Front Row (L to R): W Morgan (Treorchy), Gwilym Jones (Cardiff), Harry Toft (Swansea).
Image restored by David Dow at Dragon Tales Rugby 2012.