History 1971-72 Season
It was during the summer holidays of 1971 that the seed was sown from which Pwllheli Rugby Club evolved.
In a public house in Pwllheli several enthusiastic youths met for a drink to discuss rugby. Geraint Williams (Gerry) the chairman of Pwllheli Grammar School Old Boys arranged a game against Harlech Rugby Club at the end of August. That game was lost but everyone involved enjoyed the experience and were keen for things to carry on.
As Gerry was away in college he enlisted the help of Len Humphries, who had completed his studies to arrange a meeting in the Tower Hotel during the Christmas holidays.
It was in that meeting in the Tower under the guidance of Eric Lewis that the decision was made to establish Pwllheli Rugby Club.
Rugby had been popular however in Ysgol Glan y Môr with the team playing regularly against other school sides as the photo below shows. Amongst the team are Gwyn Lloyd Williams, who played full-back for the Club for several seasons and Bryn Martin who remains involved with the Club to this day.
Thanks to David Burnham and Milgi for the use of photo below.
STANDING : Jack Williams : Deiniol Evans : Stephen Davies : Gwilym Prys Jones : Gwyn Lloyd Williams : William Graham Cooper
Hywel Rowlands : David Ellis : Bryn Martin : Hubert Hughes
FRONT : William David Owen : David Alan Jones : Caradog Wyn Jones(Sec) : David Burnham(Captain)
Jonathan Williams(Vice.C) : Edward John Jones : Robin Lloyd Evans : William D Hughes
Below is a photo of the Old Boys Rugby team who played against Ysgol Glan y Môr sometime in 1972. This is the team that played an unofficial game against Harlech before the formation of Pwllheli Rugby Club. Please get in touch if you have additional information about the players or the game.
REAR : Paul Alderton : Wil Martin : Glyn Moss Jones : Martin Jones : Idris Griffiths : Mike Griffiths
Dewi Gough Jones : Tom Roberts : R Huw Un
FRONT : David Roberts : David Edwards : Emyr Glyn Williams : Geraint Williams : Gareth Owen : Ken Davies
Click on the thumbnail photo to enlarge to full size.
The colour photos are from the game between the Old Boys and Ysgol Glan y Môr.
The Two Jacks...Jack Basset and Jack Wood
In March 2003 I wrote an article in Llanw Llyn prompted by a question often asked of me at the time, whether I still played rugby, and if so why? Well my playing days are over now, but the basic question of why I actually played rugby at all still elicits the same answer, and that the blame or credit lies squarely on the shoulders of two Jacks ..Jack Basset and Jack Wood..let me explain..
The first time I ever touched a rugby ball was in 1971 at Ysgol Botwnnog. Football was everything at the time but following the Lions success in New Zealand, the Games Master Mr Bob Richards said one Tuesday morning " Three cheers boys, The Lions have won again"..hurrah we shouted, not really knowing who the Lions were. Looking back, I think rugby was as alien to Mr Richards as it was to us, since he formed us into two teams, "Shirts vs Skins", and then could not understand why the team wearing the shirts, which happened to contain the better footballers were being beaten by the poor sods wearing just shorts.
When the first scrum came, I was placed in the middle of the front row, between Cledwyn Barrach Bach and Meirion Bron Rhug if I remember correctly. Mr Richards told me that this was the "hooker" position. In order to explain the nuances of rugby to the Llyn Peninsula's budding soccer stars he took the ball and said "I'm the scrum half and you (giving me a nudge) have to kick the ball back when I put it in here". Obediently I did exactly that, kicking the ball back out of the tunnel to Mr Richards! He was not happy and with a thump and a reprimand I was removed to prop!
Despite this start the game took hold, with the Welsh successes of the 70's, the voice of Bill McLaren on television describing and explaining the game, and the appointment of a very special man as Art teacher at Ysgol Botwnnog, the late Mr Len Humphreys. As the timetable allowed Mr Humphreys started to teach us to play rugby, and by 1974 we were good enough to win the Gwynedd 7 a side tournament in Harlech. ( the team was Cledwyn "McCloud", Wyn Bach, Me, Wyn Chink, Dei Meics, Blew Bach ac Erfyl. I was far from being the best player, but was lucky enough to be able to carry on playing after leaving school.)
Mr Humpreys was from Llanbedrog, and his interest in rugby began at school in Pwllheli. He was one of the founders of Pwllheli RFC in 1972, and this brings us to another part of the answer to the question why I played rugby: because there's a club in Pwllheli of course!
I was able to persuade (not difficult!) Vaughan,Tryfan (father of Arwel, the former scrum half and Dylan Llyr the current fly half) that it would be a good idea to go to rugby training, and so it started.
The first two seasons were, win or lose, pure pleasure, with the social side of the game to the fore. Then in the third season the second team became extremely successful, hardly ever losing a game under the determined and pragmatic captaincy of the present club chairman, Wil Martin. This approach to the game influenced my attitude to the game also. You need to enjoy the game but I can't really enjoy it without winning, and there's more than one way to ensure victory!
Promoted to the first team by captain Tom Roberts in the early eighties, I continued to play regularly and enjoy. I had to consider changing clubs to Harlech in 1985 as marriage and a move to Dyffryn Ardudwy loomed. I did not though (change clubs I mean!). Some months before I got married, I was with Ian Studt, the captain elect for the following season, in a Cardiff hostelry. He was silly enough, with an arm around my shoulder, to ask me to stay with Pwllheli, and I was silly enough to agree, saying I could not play for anyone else. It must be stated by way of explaination that we were both very tired and emotional at the time following an international match.
I did in fact play a few games for Harlech in the months before the birth of Eon, my eldest son, in 1992. I probably wasnt good enough though, and when Ian Studt (again!) asked if I would return to Pwllheli it took me several seconds to think about it before making my decision. Eon now plays for the club's Youth Team, with the sons of former team mates with Pwllheli, and the sons of some of the boys who played in that first game in Botwnnog under the tuteledge of Mr Richards - that's the sort of club we are. There was a very surreal moment one recent Saturday, standing pitch side next to Swipe, with a lineout directly in front of us. At no.1 in the line was Eon, and at scrum half was Nick Butterworth, Swipe's son....Nick gave the call through a mouthfull of gumshield and Eon, not having understood the call at all, shouted "again"....how often had the two fathers had the same conversation in the same place and circumstances??..........
Back to the story.... There followed a period of success and development under the chairmanship of Wil Martin, the captain of that successful and pragmatic second team at the end of the 70's. Seasons of often inspired play with Gary Williams and Ian Studt at their brilliant best. Winning the the North Wales League and Cup Double under the (again determined and pragmatic) captaincy of John Tudor, and going on to play in the Heiniken League. Playing the first Heiniken game against Merthyr, with former international players in the opposition. Later, we had Brian Going, from New Zealand, as coach, with some of his compatriots ar fellow players. Brian could inspire and motivate teams and individiuals with a few chosen words.
I was again lucky to be able to continue playing longer than I expected, and then to help with coaching. The game is still a very important part of my life, with Eon now playing for the club and Erddyn having been in the North Wales under 14's developement squad and an enthusiastic player. Their involvement in the game has meant a temporary step back from the club - it's difficult being a taxi driver for them and coaching!
Why is there a rugby club in Pwllheli then? Again there's an easy answer: Boys who had an interest in rugby, inspired by the success of the Welsh team at the time, wanted to play the game competitively. One of the most prominent, and indeed the one who is credited with having the original idea of forming a club, was Len Humphreys, the enthusiastic teacher who spurred our interest in Botwnnog. There was also a teacher in Pwllheli Grammar School who inspired Len and his fellow founders a little earlier. It is possible to trace the source of this teacher'r enthusiasm to a rugby match between Wales and England a long time before the success of Wales and the Lions in the 70's.
That game was played at Twickenham on 17/1/31. The score was 11-11, with England scoring a late penalty to draw level. There was no television in those days of course but games were broadcast on the wirless, and commentating on this game for the BBC was Captain H.B.T Wakelam (the man who broadcast the first ever live commentary from a sports arena, on 15/1/27, also a Wales - England rugby match at Twickenham) Listening to it, far away in Llanystumdwy, was J.G.Williams, Jack Wood to the boys of Pwllheli Grammar School, the teacher who introduced the game to so many of those responsible for the founding of Pwllheli Rugby Club. He relates the story of the thrill and exitement of listening to the match in his book about his childhood, "Pigau'r Ser".
The answer is now more complicated then. I always say that rugby is a social game, and of course society is full of people. You may take the events away from this story but the people remain, and one answer is therefore a list of names: J G Williams (Jack Wood), Len Hymphreys, Bill McLaren, Vaughan Tryfan, Wil Martin, Captain Wakelam, Ian Studt, Tom Roberts, Gary Williams, John Tudor, Brian Going,............... Bob Richards even, and Jack Basset. Jack Basset? Yes, he was the captain of Wales in that match on J.G. Williams' wireless in 1931 that laid the foundations of Pwllheli Rugby Club.
Arthur Wyn Williams