1888-9. P31, W22, L5, D4.
VISIT OF THE FIRST NEW ZEALAND TOURING TEAM, THE MAORIS
A. F. Hill an excellent forward, was captain. He joined the club in 1883-4 and was already the possessor of six Welsh caps, and served the club altogether in nine seasons. His was quite a successful one, with matches lost only to Newport, Llanelly, Swansea, Blackheath and Gloucester. The latter club had been granted four fixtures, and of these three were drawn and the last won by them, by two goals, one try to one goal, two’ tries.
Newcomers were Oldham, York, Blackheath, Oxford University and Bridgewater. Big wins were secured over Oldham by 5 goals. 1 try to nil; York 2 goals, 4 tries to 1 goal; Bristol 5 goals. 9 tries to nil; Clifton & goals, 9 tries to nil in two matches; Neath 7 goals, 4 tries to nil in two matches. We lost the first of the four matches with Newport but won the remaining three.
The first ever match with Blackheath, in London, took place in March 1889. The Heathens” were a powerful team at this period, more than half of them being of international and university class, such as A. E. Stoddart, F. R. Alderson, P. Christopherson, W. P. Carpmael, F. R. H. Allport, who were making a strong impact on English Rugby football; they also included amongst them R. B. Sweet-Escott who was to join Cardiff as a three-quarter next season. The “ Heathens “ subdued the Blue and Blacks by two goals, two tries to nil.
Cardiff’s first ever match with Oxford University was played at Merton College field on Wednesday 5th December 1888. Reputed to be very strong, the ‘Varsity fielded twelve Blues including P. Christopherson, C. J. N. Fleming—a player of giant stature, in the backs, and a Cardiff forward D. W. Evans, the latter being in residence at Oxford; they played three three-quarter and had nine forwards to Cardiff’s four “ threes “ and eight men in the pack.
The Cardiff party had traveled as far as Swindon on the Tuesday evening, arriving late and putting up at The Great Western Hotel, where “ our wise captain “, after supper of Bread and Butter and Coffee (what fare) hurried them off to bed, One or two nocturnal irrepressibles dallied awhile playing a few pranks, but most were up early, by six am. and within two hours all were off to Oxford by train where they were met at the station by our forward in residence D. W. Evans. He informed the Cardiff players that he had been
cracking up” Welsh Rugby, and hoped they would put up a good show “as they hadn’t a chance of winning “. Depositing their kit in the hotel the team left to inspect the ground, which they found in good condition.
Against the odds, Cardiff played splendidly, the lighter pack outplaying the nine of Oxford’s, a much vaunted and heavier lot, and ran out easy winners by two goals, one drop goal and two tries to nil. Norman Biggs, in addition to dropping a fine goal, “scored one of the best tries ever scored on the Oxford ground “. C. S. Arthur also scored a
clinker” of a try. An Oxford man thought that Cardiff was good enough to beat any team in the country. Cardiff’s fine display had emphasised the quality of Welsh Rugby football,
The Maoris, as the first New Zealand native team were known (they included only four “white” players) were met by Cardiff on 29th December 1888. It was the 36th match of their 74-match tour lasting four months. What a gallant lot they were to be sure. They played the Welsh part between 19th and 29th December 1888, taking on successively, Llanelly, Wales, Swansea, Newport and Cardiff in that very short period. They toured with only 26 players in all I Against LIanelly and Wales to whom they lost, they played with three three-quarter, but having beaten Newport and Swansea with a four three-quarter formation, they played four against Cardiff.
The Cardiff Arms Park was in a deplorable state, wet, muddy, with pools of water on the pitch, consequently, forward play dominated the tactics, but an early try by Norman Biggs after a very fine sprint in the first couple of minutes surprised the Maoris to the delight of a crowd of 12,000, but it was a muddy scamper through mud and puddles, and it was only just before half time that Cardiff scored again after a forward rush over the line where two of them, S. H. Nicholls and W. T. Morgan fell on the ball together, jointly scoring as it were. This was followed by a retaliatory try by Wynyard for the tourists, after “ Sawdust” Hughes had converted Cardiff’s second try. There being no further score in the second half the result was a goal and a try to a try in Cardiff’s favour.
For the Wales v. Maoris match at Swansea, international caps were awarded, and the Cardiff recipients were C. S. Arthur, Norman Biggs, W. ‘ Buller” Stadden (from Dews- bury), A. F. Hill our captain, S. H. Nicholls and Alec F. Bland.
The season’s top scorers were C. S. Arthur and Norman Biggs with 18 tries each; W. E. 0. Williams 12, and G. Rosser Evans 10, Hugh ‘ Sawdust” Hughes kicked 45 goals.
Our Second XV, captained by Dan. E. Jones once again, were not quite successful. Out of 19 matches, 12 were won, 3 lost and 4 drawn. They scored 12 goals. 26 tries to 6 goals and 7 tries. J. E. Kingscote was the top scorer with 11 tries. Steel fencing, which was erected around the ground at a cost of £148.1.2d. proved abortive as it failed to prevent street urchins from getting into the ground. Platforms were also erected, and a balance of £165.10.7d. at the Bristol and West of England Bank was certified.