Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School
Distribution of Rugby Caps Ceremony 1923
from D.L. Davies
Below left is a transcript of a report of the ceremony when rugby caps were awarded to the 1922-1923 rugby team players (shown right in its original form). The account appeared in the Aberdare Leader of 6 October 1923. The sportsmaster quoted in the text, Mr E.J. Excell, was appointed to the school in September 1922, after two years, from 1920 to 1922, as a “Travelling Teacher of Physical Exercises” employed by Glamorgan County Council. He came from Twyford in Berkshire, trained at the H.Q. Gymnasium, Aldershot 1916-17, and Sheffield City Training College 1919. The 1922-1923 season was his first at the School and he lost no time in reviving the game of Rugby. Indeed he successfully put forward B.C.Erricker for the Welsh Secondary Schools XV in his first season in charge at Aberdare. Erricker played in the match against France.
Team games were difficult to organise in the first ten years of the School’s existence due to the lack of a ‘School Field’. The first mention of Rugby Football at the school is made in the Headmaster’s Eleventh Annual Report of 1907, where Mr Cox wrote that, “By the kindness of the Committee of the local Athletic Club, the School was allowed to use the Ynys Meadow on Saturdays from 12 to 2. This enabled the boys to play Rugby Football and the girls to begin playing Hockey.” In that year, and in previous ones, cricket had been played by the boys during the summer and an extensive programme soccer fixtures in the winter. Both of these games were played in Aberdare Park; see The Aberdarian (1905), page 18 for detailed soccer match reports.
In the 1908 Headmaster’s report, the renting of the Robertstown field is first reported to have commenced in September 1907, with the boys playing Rugby Football and Cricket extensively, and enabling the girls, “to play hockey regularly throughout the winter, and cricket in the summer.” In the 1909 Annual Report, the Headmaster writes, “In September  the Governors took over the tenancy of the Robertstown Field, and in the course of the year succeeded in obtaining the lease of the field for a term of years. Steps were taken to have it properly fenced in, and I hope that next year to report that this has been accomplished. Rugby Football and Cricket were played by the boys, who showed a great spirit of interest.”
INTERESTING CEREMONY AT
THE BOYS COUNTY SCHOOL.
On Thursday last, at the Boys’ County School Aberdare, the staff and boys assembled in the main hall of the school to witness the distribution of “Rugger” Caps to last year’s XV, by the High Constable and Chairman of the Governors of the School (County Councillor W.M. Llewellyn, M.E.)
The Headmaster (Mr. W. Charlton Cox, M.A.), was in the chair. Mr Cox, in welcoming the High Constable to the school, referred to the interest Mr Llewellyn took in the County School and how self-sacrificing it was of Mr. Llewellyn to give his time to them that afternoon.
Mr. E.J. Excell, the sports master, then gave his report and said that out of the games played last year nine had been won and seven lost. When it was born in mind that this was the first season that the school had played Rugby football for many years it was a very gratifying one indeed. It was also a source of satisfaction to them to know that the captain of last season’s team, B. C. Erricker, had been successful in obtaining his Welsh International Cap. (Loud Applause).
Mr. Llewellyn, who was received with long and loud applause, said he was always willing to help the County School in any way. He thought the record of the School was a good one, taking into consideration the fact that it was the first season they had played Rugger for so long. He mentioned that he himself was once a Rugger player, and he went on to give some very interesting and amusing anecdotes of that time. The caps were presented to the following boys:—B.C.Erricker (captain), J.Thomas (vice-captain), D.E.Davies, A.Lewis, L.Stonelake, R.N.Berry, E.J.Shannon, R.W.Francis, E.G.Davies, W.T.James, W.I.Evans, J.B.Davies, B.P.Thomas, D.W.Walters, C.E.Davies.
Mr. Aubrey Roberts, M.A., proposed a vote of thanks to Mr. Llewellyn for his attendance and interest, and in the course of his proposition gave several interesting stories relative to the active part Mr. Llewellyn has taken in Rugby football.—Mr. R. Norman Berry seconded and the vote was carried with acclamation.
Mr. Llewellyn, in reply, said that if he could be of any assistance in getting fixtures with Llandovery and Brecon Colleges he would be pleased to exert his influence in that direction. He further offered to give a new challenge cup to be competed for at the athletic sports. This announcement was received with great enthusiasm.
The boys referred to by initials and surname were as follows:
Brinley Cenydd Erricker (Foundry Town), probably John Christopher Lloyd Thomas (Abernant), David Edryd Davies (Cwmdare), Augustus Lewis (Cwmaman), Leonard Stonelake (Foundry Town), Richard Norman Berry (Plasdraw), Edward John Shannon (Gadlys), Robert William Francis (Maes y Dre) and to become a master in the school 1947-1959, Evan Gwanwyn Davies (Foundry Town), probably William Isaac James (Trecynon), William Isaac Evans (Cwmaman), John Benjamin Davies (Foundry Town) and to become a master in the school 1945-1967, Brynmor Powell Thomas (Cwmaman), David William Walters (Taff Vale House), Ceidrych Emlyn Davies (Cwmaman).
Aberdare Leader extract reproduced with permission of Rhondda Cynon Tâf Library Service