Norman Biggs

Norman Biggs

Position: Wing

Born 03/11/1870
Died 27/02/1908
Place Of Birth Cardiff

Norman Witchell Biggs was a Welsh international rugby union wing who played club rugby for Cardiff and county rugby for Glamorgan.Both Biggs and his brother Selwyn played international rugby for Wales, though they never played together in the same match for Wales. Biggs also played cricket for Glamorgan and in 1893 was part of a team that took on Cardiff in a two day match; he faced his brother Selwyn, who was a member of the Cardiff team.

Biggs is most notable for being a member of the 1893 Triple Crown winning Wales team, being the youngest capped player to represent the Wales international team and the unusual circumstances of his death by poison arrow.

Norman Biggs was born in Cardiff to John and Emily Biggs. His father, who lived at Park Place in the centre of the city, was a brewer by trade who owned businesses in Cardiff and Bristol. Biggs was privately educated at several proprietary schools including Lewinsdale School in Weston-super-Mare, before matriculating to University College Cardiff and later Trinity Hall, Cambridge, playing rugby for both university teams.[10][11][12] On returning to Cardiff he joined his father's brewing business. In 1887, Biggs played his first senior game for Cardiff RFC, in a match against Penarth. Biggs came from a large sporting family and was one of six brothers to play rugby for Cardiff. His most notable brothers were Selwyn, who also played for Wales, and Cecil, who captained Cardiff during their 1904/05 season.

Biggs gained his first cap for Wales when he was selected to play against the touring New Zealand Natives in 1888 at St. Helen's Ground. At the time Biggs was 18 years and 49 days old, making him the youngest Wales international, a record that would last for more than a century before being broken by Tom Prydie in 2010.The New Zealanders were the first touring team from the Southern Hemisphere and brought with them a reputation for over-vigorous play. Biggs himself was described by the press as "palpably nervous" before the kick-off, though many of the backs appeared withdrawn, apart from William Stadden and James Webb appearing calm. Not only did Biggs have the Māori opposition to contend with, the Swansea crowd were also hostile towards their own team, as they felt the Swansea backs should have been selected instead.Biggs, as an inexperienced new cap from rivals Cardiff, was picked out by the crowd as one of those players unworthy of his place and was heckled.Nonetheless, the Welsh team were victorious, with tries from Thomas, Towers and Hannan and a single conversion from Webb. A week later on the 29 December, Biggs faced the same tourists, this time as part of the Cardiff team. Biggs had been disappointing in his international debut, but regained his form on the pitch at the Cardiff Arms Park. Within 90 seconds of the start of the match, Biggs scored a "sparkling try".[ Biggs should have scored again, but dropped the ball after crossing the line in the slippery conditions. Cardiff won by a goal and a try to one try.

In the 1888-89 season, Biggs was reselected for the Welsh team as part of the 1889 Home Nations Championship. He was not chosen for the first game of the season against Scotland, but was accepted for the second and final game to Ireland. Under the captaincy of Arthur Gould, Biggs was partnered on the wing by Abel Davies of London Welsh. Wales lost to Ireland by two tries to nil, the first time the Irish had won on Welsh soil.Biggs and Davies were both dropped for the next season.

It took Biggs until the 1892 Home Nations Championship to regain his place in the national team, again he was chosen for the final game of the tournament against Ireland. Although the Welsh backs contained the talents of Billy Bancroft, brothers Evan and David James and Arthur and Bert Gould, the Welsh team were outclassed by Victor Le Fanu's Ireland. It was the first time Wales had lost all three games in the Championship. Despite the loss Biggs was reselected for all three games of the 1893 tournament, all under the captaincy of "Monkey" Gould. In a reversal of fortunes from the previous season, Wales managed to win all three matches, lifting the Triple Crown for the first time in the country's history. Biggs played an important role during the Triple Crown winning season, scoring two tries, one each in the games against England and Scotland. The 1893 away game against Scotland is described as Biggs' best international match and 'his speed and general play were the main factors in securing the first victory of the Principality over Scotland at Scotland'.

Biggs played in two more internationals for Wales, both in the 1894 Championship and both resulted in losses. The first game of the 1894 Championship was against England, and Wales suffered a heavy defeat, losing 24-3. In an after match interview Biggs was asked why he had failed to tackle Harry Bradshaw, who scored the first try; Biggs responded "Tackle him? It was as much as I could do to get out of his way!".[22][23] In his final game against Ireland, Biggs was part of an all Cardiff three-quarters, along with Tom Pearson, Dai Fitzgerald and Jack Elliott. The very next international saw Biggs' younger brother Selwyn selected for the first time, the brothers missing each other by just one match.

Biggs played for Cardiff from the 1886–87 season through to 1898–99, though not continuously, spending some time in the early 1890s in London.He played in 166 matches for Cardiff, was one of the highest scoring players the club had produced. He scored five or more try conversions in a single match on seven occasions, six in the same season (1893-94), against Gloucester, Bristol, London Welsh, Penygraig, Exeter and Cardiff & D.R.U.[The 1893–94 season saw Biggs score 58 conversions, 25 tries and two dropped goals bringing his points tally to 199 points.This remained a club record until the 1972–73 season when it was surpassed by John Davies.[Biggs ended his Cardiff career with 107 tries, four less than his brother Cecil.

Biggs played for several club teams throughout his career, including England's Richmond and Welsh exile club London Welsh. On 24 December 1890, Biggs played for London Welsh in a match against his longterm club Cardiff. The London Welsh team produced a 'devastating display' to beat Cardiff by a single try. At county level he represented Glamorgan where he played alongside his brother, and later turned out for Somerset. During the 1893/94 season Biggs was made club captain of Cardiff, and in the same season he lead Cardiff against the invitational team the Barbarians, not only winning the game but also scoring two tries and kicking a successful conversion.The same season as he faced the Barbarians with Cardiff, Biggs was invited to join the tourists; one of four of the Biggs brothers to play for the team. The last notable club Biggs represented was Bath, captaining the senior team during the 1899–1900 season.[

 

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 8 4 0 4 2 0 0 0 4  
Clubs: - Bath Rugby - London Welsh - Richmond - Cardiff -
Education: - Cambridge University - Cardiff and Vale College -
Region: - Somerset -
Invitational: - Barbarians -
Honours: - Wales -

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