|Place Of Birth||Pontardawe|
Born 4th January 1891 at Pontardawe, B. R. 'Brinley' Richard Lewis was an outstanding wing with tremendous pace and a good rugby brain. He was unfortunate in having appeared on the international scene as Wales were losing the calibre of players who had produced a Golden Era for the Principality from 1900-1911. He also suffered inconsistencies in his own game and had so few chances to show the talent he undoubtedly possessed.
Being brought up in Pontardawe in the Swansea Valley (his family owned the Glantawe Tinplate Works nearby), he played on the wing for that club who had a strong fixture list, exposing the youngster to opponents like Llanelli, Aberavon and Pontypool. He had already shone as a Welsh Schools international against England in 1905 and also while playing for Swansea Grammar School his talent with ball in hand was noticed.
Lewis played for the Cambridge fist fifteen when he went to study law there and gained three blues, opposite the likes of future England star three-quarter Ron Poulton. Though never on the winning side, his prodigious running talents were well known and respected in England long before he came to the eyes of the Welsh selectors.
He joined Swansea in the 1909-10 season while still making headlines for his performances in the light blue of Cambridge URFC. In fact he played against his town side of Swansea in Cambridge's Annual tour when it arrived in Wales. Lewis missed out on selection for the Welsh team after the trial matches of 1910-11 but good form for Swansea (under Dickie Owen's captaincy) and Cambridge saw him finally get his chance in 1912 against Ireland after being a reserve in the match against Scotland at St Helens. Wales lost in Dublin (12 - 5) and much of the blame was placed on Brinley Lewis' shoulders. He had given a nervous performance and not reproduced the form that got him selected. His club form recovered though and that blistering pace and ability to read the game won over many critics. He had a bad cold when selected to play for Glamorgan against the 1912 South African tourists but was prevailed upon to turn out. The Springboks won by a margin of 35 to 3 points, but Brinley played well and bravely, scoring the only points for the county side with his touchdown.
Returning now to Swansea, Lewis was selected for the international against Ireland in 1913 at St Helens. He had a great match, having a hand in three of Wales' tries and nearly scoring himself in a 16 - 13 thriller that Wales edged on the day. That year he also had the honour of being the first Swansea player to be invited to play for the Barbarians Club (lost 8 - 3 to Penarth). Three days later (24 March 1913) he played for Swansea against the Barbarians in an 8 - 0 win for the "All Whites". A bright international future was forecast for Lewis and he also was Swansea's top try scorer in the 1913-14 season (15). But he was not selected having withdrawn from trials for unknown reasons (possibly to do with his career). By 1914 he was an articled clerk working for a Swansea solicitor and had played his third game for the Barbarians (lost again to Penarth 8 - 3!).
But the war was to prevent him attaining the sporting heights he undoubtedly deserved. He enlisted in 2 / 1st Glamorgan Yeomanry, eventually becoming a Major in the 122nd Brigade Royal Field Artillery, 38th (Welsh) Infantry Division. On 2nd April 1917 at Boesinge Belgium, he and another officer were off duty a short distance in the rear of their units position when a stray German shell intended for the forward units hit them and both were killed instantly. Shortly after his death, Lewis was mentioned in despatches. His grave is in the Ferme-Olivier Cemetery, Elverdinge, alongside the officer who died with him that day.
(Thanks to Gwyn Prescott for many of the details in this profile).
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