Newport RFC : 1879/80 Season Summary

Season 1879/80

P16 W12 D0 L4 : For 18g, 25t – Agt 9g, 14t

 Capt :  Will Phillips

South Wales Challenge Cup

Will Phillips was again captain for season 1879/90 but this was the season that Newport’s invincibility finally ended. On Nov 20th 1879 Blackheath visited and won by 4g, 8t to 0. Interestingly, Blackheath player Mr Aubrey Spurling recorded that “most of the scoring was  the result of Newport forwards standing close up to the touch-line when the ball was thrown in“. Blackheath’s L Stokes would throw it over Newport heads to G F Vernon, who either scored or passed. Newport were then beaten in the Cup by Swansea on Dec 13th 1879 and Clifton completed a double in Jan / Feb and so Newport had lost 4 matches.

New players included Theo Harding, J Jex Wood, C Jordan, R Gould and E Robathan.

The defeat by Blackheath was probably a blessing in disguise as they realised that England could teach them a thing or two about new techniques and methods. From that day Newport were students and teachers, learning from the English, Scottish, Irish and Welsh teams in turn. A shattering defeat planted the seed of Newport RFC’s future greatness.

There were wins over Newport Suburbs, Pontypool, Weston (2), Manchester Rangers, Bridgend. South of Ireland and Chepstow. One match was not completed – Cardiff (A) when Newport left the field in dispute. The defeat to Swansea in SW Challenge Cup by 1 try to 0 was hotly disputed by Newport who refused to give the Cup up to Swansea who went on to “win” the tournament. The Cup match with Swansea was played on an icy pitch at Bridgend.  R Loane of Newport broke his leg on the ice covered pitch. The disputed try arose because the pitch was in such a bad condition (frozen) that an adjacent area was chosen instead. This was to lead to the disputed try. There was a large crowd who would have been kept behind wire fencing on the original pitch but as the game continued, the crowd encroached onto the playing area until play was stopped near no-time, to clear them. It was alleged by Newport that the referee (Mr Saddler) and Newport umpire were still involved in this act when Swansea continued play with a throw in which led to a maul in goal and an eventual touch down for Swansea. Newport requested a hearing at the WFU but the referee was unable to attend and sent a letter saying he’d completed the task of moving the spectators back and was watching play when the try was scored.

List of players :

Backs : T Ponsford, CF Thompson, JM Wood, W Ponsford

Three-quarters : F Phillips, CF Thompson, H Hancock, H Gould, J Jex Woods

Half-backs : G Rosser, CH Newman, T Spittle, GW Edwards, Lt CH Knox

Forwards : W Phillips, FA Goss, AJT Goss, GF Harding, H Hancock, HS Lyne, RH Loane, W Ponsford, C Jordan, AC Phillips, H Winn, AA Newman, J Jex Woods, JT Boddington, R Gould, W Wood, E Robathan, WC Phillips, T Harding