Cardiff Rugby Football Club
Chairman’s Report for Season 1995-96
Little did I think that this season would be a landmark in the history of Rugby Football Union. It has been an exciting and challenging experience for players and administrators of the game.
The announcement of 27th August 1995 by Vernon Pugh, Chairman of the International Rugby Football Board, stating that the game was to become professional had far reaching implications for all of us, but we at Cardiff were fortunate to have Gareth Davies, Chief executive, at the helm at such a crucial stage and his appointment has been one of the major successes of the season. I pay tribute to him, Nathan Roberts, Jackie, Julie, Vicky, Cathy and Debbie for the professional way they have worked and I thank them most sincerely for their dedication and support throughout the season.
This season started with the introduction of the “Try Bonus Point System” which ironically prevented us from winning the championship again this year. It maybe as a result of introducing the new system that Cardiff set a new aggregate score of 1513 points and scored a record 210 tries, and Steve Ford set another Heineken League record by scoring 21 tries. Congratulations to Steve on another superb season. There must be something wrong with the system if a team, who wins the most games, fails to win the Championship.
Alex Evans, Coaching Organiser, announced that he would be returning to Australia in December and it was confirmed that Terry Holmes was to be his successor. Alex’s contribution to CRFC was immense and I remember the words I used in one of his many farewell parties. “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.” We are extremely grateful to Alex for his contribution over the last 3 years and we wish him and his charming wife, Kay, all the best of luck for the future. There is no doubt that he is responsible for turning around the fortunes of the Club while he was here. There will always be a welcome for them both at CRFC.
The appointment of Hemi Taylor as Captain of the Club was a popular choice and I congratulate him on his achievements this year. He always led by example both on and off the field and earned respect of his fellow players, committee members and supporters alike.
We are also honoured and pleased to have Jonathan Humphreys selected as Captain of Wales. Incidentally, Hemi and Jonathan were CRFC Development Officers at the time of their appointments. We are proud of Jonathan’s selection and the manner in which he had led Wales this season. I am sure that he will retain the Captaincy for many more years to come. Cardiff are indeed fortunate to have such quality players a current captains.
One of my first duties as Chairman was to manage the pre-season tour to Wexford, unfortunately without Alex Evans, Andy Moore, Jonathan Humphreys, Mark Bennett, Simon Hill, Derwyn Jones and Hemi Taylor, as they had been selected for the Wales tour to South Africa. While at Wexford Andrew Lewis received a call from Alex to invite him to join the South African tour party and I am sure that he will remember that moment for the rest of his life.
Mike Rayer was back in training and determined to regain his place in the Cardiff side by Christmas. I pay special tribute to Mike as he has made the most amazing recovery that I have seen in my lifetime and to recover to such an extent that he should have been initially selected for Wales tour to Australia was miraculous. Well done Mike! Hopefully we will soon see the return of Mike Bennett and Stuart Roy after their injuries.
Early in the season a longstanding tradition came to an end with the abolition of the ‘Rags’ and I am sure many of the players and supporters missed them very much.
On October 28th CRFC again ventured on pastures new by playing Fiji on our own pitch, and, in front of a capacity crowd, we won an exciting game 22points to 21. There certainly was more atmosphere at the ground and may this new trend continue. Six Cardiff players were selected to play for Wales against Fiji with Lyndon Mustoe gaining his first Welsh Cap. What a joy it was for us all to see him at last gaining the recognition he deserved.
We embarked on an exciting European trail on 21st November, with a match at Bordeaux against Begles. The hospitality we received there was so fantastic that it set the standard for all other clubs in the competition to follow and we are grateful to Begles for setting the scene. We fielded a team of 14 Internationals for this encounter which was played in pouring rain. The atmosphere was equal to any International match and the tension was unbearable. Although we had our chances to win, we came away with a creditable draw, 14 points apiece.
Our nest match was at home to Ulster which we won convincingly 46 – 6. Begels failed to acquire the number of points required at Ulster and we were through to the semi-final against Leinster at Lansdowne Rd. Ninety supporters, media and Cardiff Committee members gathered at Rhoose on Saturday morning to catch the flight to Dublin but the icy conditions prevented the plane from leaving the runway and as a result they all missed the match – Airport owners included. However the game was played in gale force winds driving rain and it was a credit to both sides that the standard of play was of the highest order. We managed to win a close encounter 23-14 and we through to the final at the National Stadium and, unfortunately, we lost in the last minute of extra time by 21 points to 18 and the chance of winning the Cup in its inaugural year was lost. I’m sure that the experience gained in this season’s encounters will stand us in good stead for next time.