Newport RFC : 1990/1 Season Summary

Season 1990/1
P41 W29 D1 L11: F1069-A485
(not incl USA Tour)

Div 1 Lge Record : P14 W13 L1 F499 A101 (Tries 83-17)

USA Tour : P2 W2 : F46-A24

Capt : Glenn George

Welsh League rugby started in 1990/1 with Newport RFC among the 8 clubs forming the 1st Division. Results over the previous 3 seasons had been used as a yardstick to decide who would form the Premier and the First Division sides. Newport’s disastrous 1987/8 season didn’t help. Newport’s Team Manager Nev Johnson and coaches Gareth Evans and Roger Powell had taken steps to strengthen the squad and there were many new faces at the pre-season trials. Newport went to Maesteg on a sunny Saturday on Sept 22nd to play their first ever league game. Few knew what to expect as it was difficult to gauge the strengths of the teams in the division. Some pundits were tipping Maesteg as the team to beat. In an excellent team performance with evergreen Muddy Waters dominating the line-out, Newport won in style 28-10 with wing Andrew Lewis scoring Newport’s first ever league try.

By the end of 1990, Newport, under captain Glenn George, had won all 6 league games and had beaten Premier side Neath at Rodney Parade 19-7. This was the first time that Neath had lost to a Welsh team for 51 matches (since Oct 1989) and confirmed that Newport were once again on their way to regaining their status in Welsh rugby. Newport went out of the Welsh Cup in a titanic struggle at the Gnoll (9-18) against Neath but only after an injuries to outstanding prop Mark Davis, wing Andrew Lewis and an unsavoury incident which left fullback Mark Yendle with a fractured cheekbone.

History was made when the league match at Aberavon became the first live televised club match in Wales. Newport won in style 38-21 and effectively sealed promotion. Newport surrendered an unbeaten home league record with a poor display against Maesteg in the rain and mud at Rodney Parade but bounced back to seal the Division 1 Championship with a resounding win at Rodney Parade against South Wales Police 23-7. Further wins followed against Bristol (H) and Tredegar (A) in the league to end a fine season. Newport had scored 499pts and 83 tries in their 14 league matches – by far the highest number of tries in the top 4 divisions. Outside-half Paul Turner capped a fine season with 291pts from his 27 games (127 from 9 league) followed by utility back Gary Abraham with 126pts. Back-row Kevin Withey (ex-Bath) was leading try scorer with 16 tries from 21 apps with scrum half David Llewellyn (ex-Ebbw Vale) 15t from 16 games. Centre Roger Bidgood (ex-Pontypool) made most appearances with 29.

The Boucher Cup went to prop Mark Davis and the Webber Bowl to Kevin Withey who had joined from Bath. He was one of several ex-Bath players to join this season. Others were full-back Mark Westcott, wings Martin Sparks and Fred Sagoe and scrum-half Keith Plummer. Other players to make their debuts included lock / back-row Ben Watkins (son of former Newport lock Jeff), fullback Simon McCracken (Blackwood), centre Keith Orrell (Pontypool), scrum-half Mark Roderick (Christ College), hooker Andy Peacock (Pontypool), props Malcolm Sibthorpe (former Ebbw Vale capt) and Sean Duggan and international lock Keith Moseley (Pontypool).

Representative honours went to Glenn George (Wales B capt and Wales caps vs England and Scotland), Alun Carter (ex-Pontypool) played for Wales vs England and Scotland and Mark Davis for Wales U21 and won his Wales cap in Australia June 1991. Scrum-half David Llewellyn was in the Welsh squad and on the bench for Wales U21 while Carter and George played for the Barbarians.

Newport played 2 matches in USA in May 1991 and won both vs Atlanta Renegades and Georgia select.
Newport played 2 matches in the USA on their end of season tour in May / June 1991 and won both – Atlanta Renegades 15-9 and Georgia Select 31-15.