Billy Trew

Billy Trew

Position: Centre

Died 20/08/1926
Place Of Birth Swansea

Born : 1878, Swansea

Died : 20 August 1926

Position : Wing, Stand-off, Centre        

Major Teams : Swansea, Wales.

Wales Caps : 29.     Points : 39 (11t, 1con, 1dg)

Born on 1st July 1878, the legendary William James (‘Billy’) Trew first played for Swansea at Penarth on 8 October 1897 and soon established himself in the team playing in a variety of positions in the backs. He played for Wales on 29 occasions between 1900 and 1913, scoring 39 points (11 tries, 1 conversion and a drop goal), playing in 3 different positions, namely wing, stand-off and centre, captaining Wales in 14 matches between 1907 and 1913. He was a member of the Triple Crown sides of 1900, 1908, 1909 and 1911 as well as winning the Grand slam in 1908, 1909 and 1911.

A natural athlete who sometimes scored his tries by leaping over the heads of would be tacklers; Billy had to wait till 1900 for a chance to don the Welsh jersey though out scoring any other club player in 1898-99 with 33 tries. In 1899-1900 he scored 31 tries. He justified his international selection by scoring a try against England on his debut. Wales won the match 13 – 3 to usher in their first Golden Era.

A slight, almost ghost like figure, Billy Trew suffered many debilitating injuries in his career as opposition teams targeted him for special attention due to his great influence in any team he graced. He was a boiler maker by trade and despite the knocks, recovered quickly from the rough handling meted out to him. His early international career was a stop start affair with injuries and the presence of such luminaries as Teddy Morgan (wing), Willie Llewellyn (wing), Rhys Gabe (centre) and Gwyn Nicholls (centre) kept him out of a successful team. Between 1900 and 1905 Billy Trew played just six matches for wales, all on the wing, and this despite his obvious influence at Swansea in the centre and at stand-off. From this point onward though, he was always a centre three-quarter or at outside half for Wales where his quick footballing brain carved out many openings for other players and held a solid defence against all-comers.

His illustrious career for Wales was occasionally shrouded with controversy. For instance, he refused to play versus Ireland in 1907 allegedly because his club-mate Fred Scrine had been suspended by the WRU “for using improper language to a referee”. Trew had felt the punishment was too harsh. As a consequence, the Ireland 1907 game was the 1st occasion there was no Swansea representative in the Wales team since the very first international on 19 February 1881. In 1912 he missed the Twickenham match through injury but watched from the terraces, being arrested for drunk and disorderly in the Strand later on. He returned to triumph against Scotland, being carried off shoulder high after the crushing win. Both he and scrum half Dickie Owen missed the last two internationals of 1912, preferring to play for Swansea!

He captained Swansea for 5 consecutive seasons from 1906/07 – 1910/11 and 1912/13. He played for Swansea versus New Zealand in 1905 and captained the club in their memorable victories over Australia (1908) and South Africa (1912).

In the victory over South Africa in appalling conditions, Billy Trew marshalled his men against the powerful forward rushes and physicality of an increasingly desperate Springbok side. Forward D J Thomas put Swansea ahead with a try after 20 minutes. For a long period Swansea were reduced to 14 with wing Howell Lewis side-lined after received punches to face and chest and went off for treatment. Trew pulled forward George Hayward out of the scrum as an extra defender and had as many as three forwards so placed at one time as South Africa pressed for an equalising score. Billy himself was knocked down and trampled after making a mark, but he and Swansea held on for a famous win. It was the last of a string of successful seasons for Swansea who had seven internationals that season (Trew, Howell Lewis, Rev. Alban Davies, Tom Williams, Bert Hollingdale, Jack Bancroft and Bryn Lewis).

During Billy Trew’s Swansea career Swansea won seven Championships, were runners up twice and Invincible in 1904-05. Four of the Championships were consecutive. Billy Trew’s influence was stamped on the club side as well as the international side and was crowned with success.

Billy Trew was from a footballing family and his two brothers Harry and Bert both played for Swansea. His son Billy Trew junior went on to captain Swansea in 1931-31, thus making them the first father and son pair to achieve the honour. Billy Trew Senior was the father-in-law of Tom Day who later played for Swansea and Wales.

He died on 20 August 1926 and his funeral procession took place on the 26th. It seemed the whole of Swansea stood along the route from the Brooklands Hotel in Oxford Street to Danygraig cemetery to pay their last respects to the immortal man. He has been remembered as a veritable giant of the game, a player without equal. It is true to say there was only one Billy Trew !

Playing Summary
  Season P W D L Try Con Pen DG PTS  
  Total 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0  

Click on a season for a match by match breakdown.

  Team P W D L Try Con Pen DG PTS  
  Wales 29 25 0 4 11 1 0 1 39  
Clubs: - Swansea -
Honours: - Wales -

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