1929—30. P44, W30, L9, D5. Points 560—244.
INVITATION TO PLAY FRANCE “B” XV
DISMAL RECORD OF CARDIFF’S “OTHER TEAM”
This was the record of the premier team which was captained by Syd Cravos being so appointed by the members, and he nominated our scrum half Howard Poole as his vice captain. Cravos relied upon only 49 players for his team selections, whereas Dr. T. J. Pittard was to call upon no fewer than 81 for the club’s “ Other Team” and it was his team’s record which was to suffer from the many changes through promotion to the Premier XV, and other defections, and, in particular, his backs lacked experience and penetration.
It was quite a good season for Cravos’s XV in spite of losing four games up to the end of October, all to English clubs : Bristol (A) by 11 points to 6, and three in succession to Coventry (A) 13—6, Gloucester (H) 10—9 (two goals to three tries) and Blackheath (A) 8—3. LIanelly succeeded over us three times with one drawn, conversely, we succeeded over Swansea in a similar manner and had the better of Newport with three wins out of four. We captured two notable scalps by defeating two unbeaten clubs at Christmas time, Neath (A) by 6 points to 3, and London Welsh 23 points to nil at home. From 14th December to the 27th Plymouth Albion, Neath, London Welsh, London Irish (40 points to three) and the Watsonians were all beaten. The month of April was even more profitable with successes over Penarth, Maesteg, Swansea, Barbarians ((11 points to 9), Harlequins, Coventry and Aberavon, and a drawn match with Llanelly to end the season.
Tommy Stone had become very popular with all clubs for his cleverness and daring at halfback and from the fullback position, and converted most of the club goals. He and Norman Fender who were original players with our Rugby ex-schoolboys team, were making a name for themselves. Graham Jones was top scorer with 18 tries, 15 came from Ronnie Boon, 13 from John Roberts and 11 from B. R. Turnbull. Harry Bowcott and Boon each helped themselves to 3 tries against London Irish on Boxing Day, and Tommy Stone converted five tries. Tommy Stone 41, and Syd Cravos 40, made the most appearances and no fewer than seven players took part in more than 30 matches. New caps for this XV were awarded to H. M. Bowcott, Vaughan Griffiths, Harold Jones a former Neath player, Archie Skym and Phil Thomas. all forwards except Bowcott. We were helped by having no less than twelve Glamorgan County Police players on our books, they were nearly all forwards. For our match with Blackheath at home on 22nd March, Ivor Jones, one of LIanelly’s greatest ever forwards expressed a wish to play in a Blue and Black jersey for Cardiff. He was duly selected and there was a little disappointment when, it appears, he felt he had to be loyal to his own club and turn out against Swansea.
To lead a club XV from the front row of the pack, particularly with inexperienced backs behind you is not a very good tactical choice. But such was captain Pittard’s unenviable task, consequently his team was to suffer the worst playing record of any team in the club’s history; 1929—30 is the only season in which any of our teams scored less points than our opponents. The results make very dismal reading, and were damaging to the club’s prestige. They presaged the end of the two First XV’s experiment, and at a special meeting held on 28th March 1930, members of the management committee of the Athletic Club being present, it was decided that, with effect from 1931—32 the club would run one Cardiff team, and one styled Cardiff Athletic, the latter outfit being known as “The Rags” to this day.
The top scorer in Pittard’s low scoring team was Cliff Mills a wing three-quarter who notched up 12, including four in one match against Cinderford. Young Mills was the son of the late Jack Mills of Canton who for very many years devoted himself to the interest of the Cardiff & District Rugby Union, a father figure indeed, and connected with the Cardiff Rugby Club in his later years. Nine players qualified for caps with the Second (1st) XV, namely, Ken Harries, Stan B. Hughes, V. Marshall, Cliff Mills, V. R. Osmond, P.C. Edgar Price, Goff Retter, H. Watkins and Dai Westacott, son of an illustrious father of the same name, also a forward, seasons 1903/04—1909/10. During the season the club received an invitation from the French Rugby Federation (F.F.R.) to play its probable international team in France, the French “ B” team of today.
The invitation was accepted and the match took place at Toulouse the following season, on New Year’s Day 1931. The minutes also record several other items of interest: Jack Powell (no relation to our past players of the same name) offered his services free to the club as masseur which were accepted and he became a very conscientious servant of the club until his death shortly after the end of World War II. The club’s annual dinner took place on the 28th December in the Grand Hotel and the visiting Lianelly team and officials were our guests. In the real need for economy a system of voluntary stewarding around the ground was instituted and functioned well under a sub-committee, R. A. Cornish, D. E. Davies and Vic Scott and the club was saved more than £300 in this first season. The programme editor was complimented.