1890-91. P33, W22, L9, D2
BARBARIANS PLAY CARDIFF IN THEIR FOUNDING YEAR
W. E. 0. Williams, a forward of much experience, was unlucky in this his year of captaincy. He was injured late in the game during the match with Newport on 22nd November and he did not play for the club again. Williams had joined the club in 1886-7 actually gaining two Welsh caps in that season. In all he made 102 first team appearances. W. Evans his vice-captain took over the captaincy.
The match results were not very spectacular because a few experienced players had faded out, notably A. F. Hill, Alec. F. Bland, forwards, and the nippy halfback W. E. man. To add to the loss, Norman Biggs was available for only two matches as he was playing for London Welsh, but there were still some very good experienced players available and Selwyn Sweet-Escott—one of three brothers who were to play for the club, gained a first team place and earned a club cap this season. Selwyn a three-quarter, and brother R. B. (Ralph) Sweet-Escott at half-back, played regularly.
This season was most notable for the beginning of an unbroken sequence of fixtures with the Barbarians and Cardiff, so happily retained until this day. Both these clubs in their history have done much to create the real spirit, camaraderie, and tradition for the Rugby game, and in so doing, have gained the respect of the whole Rugby world. The Barbarians arrived at Easter time, playing the club on Easter Tuesday, 31st March 1891, the match owed those with the powerful Blackheath Club the previous Saturday and New Brighton Easter Monday. In this founding season of the ‘ Baa-baas “, three Cardiff players were de Barbarians, they were R. B. Sweet-Escott who twice played for them, against
Hartlepool Rovers and Bradford, D. W. Evans and R. T. Duncan, forwards, who were chosen against Devonshire at Exeter on 1st April 1891, all three had played against the Barbarians at Cardiff on the previous day.
The Easter programme was undoubtedly strong; the first match was lost to Blackheath by two goals (one dropped) and one try to two tries. New Brighton were well beaten by three goals, two tries to nil, but more creditable perhaps was the greater prize, that of beating a strong Barbarian team by two goals (one dropped) and a try to one goal, this was the only Barbarian defeat on their first tour, in fact of their founding season. A two match tour to Swinton and Burton was undertaken the following week-end and we lost the first by three tries to nil, but Burton were well beaten on the following Monday by one goal, three tries to nil and there was no evidence of a visit to Ailsop’s Brewery on the
morning of the match, which we had made the previous season.
Earlier in the season we had beaten three of the Northern clubs, Swinton, and those of Otley and Leeds from Yorkshire, but the three biggest wins were gained over Burton by four goals, four tries to one goal, Pontypridd by five goals (one dropped) and four tries to nil, and the Old Edwardians by five goals, two tries to nil. The Pontypridd match was billed as the ‘ Recently re-constituted Pontypridd Club “ against Cardiff, and two of Ponty’s” noted players were Alun Morgan at fullback, and Ack Llewellyn at forward, who was to become a noted referee and Welsh Rugby Union administrator. Four forwards, J. V. Arman, E. P. Biggs, Gus Lewis and J. Smith gained Cardiff caps in addition to S. Sweet-Escort of the three-quarter line, and other players who gained praise for their good play were J. Mahoney, S. H. Nicholls and Dai Fitzgerald the full-back.
Fred H. Jones who joined the club in 1888-89 played in all of the 33 matches, J. Mahoney in 32, Gus Lewis and H. M. Ingledew both appeared 31 times. Easily the top scorer was T. W. Pearson with 18 tries, followed by S. Sweet-Escott and C. S. Arthur with 8, and Fred N. Jones and Gus Lewis each with 6 tries. Welsh international caps were gained by C. S. Arthur, T. W. Pearson, H. M. Ingledew, D. W. Evans and R. B. Sweet-Escott.
The Second XV, again captained by Dan. E. Jones had a better season than last, 20 matches were played, 14 won. 4 lost, and 2 drawn. The scoring totted up to 45 goals and 40 tries to 8 goals and 9 tries. Two players, the Captain Dan. E. Jones and A. M. Hill each scored eleven tries. In a match against Cardiff Northern, D. W. Evans kicked eight goals and scored a try, and Selwyn Biggs got over for four tries in the match, and in a match against Whitchurch, E. J. Rooney also kicked eight goals.
The club’s financial status further improved. There were now 663 members, 299 ground ticket holders, and, for the first time, workmen’s tickets were sold, 968 of them. Gate money totalled £1,223.16.lOd. notwithstanding expenditure of £254.5.Od. on temporary stands. Charitable donations of £200 were made; there was a balance in hand of £237.15.7d. and there was £1,000 on deposit.