Pontypool Rugby Reminiscences


The following is a page from an old programme for one of Pontypool’s rugby matches. Unfortunately it was not dated but I think it must have been written in the early thirties or soon afterwards.

It is written by someone named Retlas which, I assume, is a pseudonym for the person who wrote a weekly page in the programmes. I cannot trace who this person was so if anyone knows I’d be delighted to hear from them.  I tried to make enquiries on the Pontypool Rugby website but I could not leave a message without registering; when I tried to do this the registration was not working.

Cecil was the step-brother of Edgar Smith, the father of my friend Eric Smith, my one-time next door neighbour. Royce Pritchard was Cecil’s son and one of our playmates; he features in one of the Boys’ Brigade photographs earlier in this blog. Eric told me on one occasion that he was the only player that had played for Wales in every position on the field. There are various records claimed for him in the piece below, but, of course, over the years these might have been equalled or passed.

“Cecil Pritchard, one of the best and brainiest forwards who
ever played for Wales, is the subject of my sketch this week. Cecil
came to the fore just at the period when specialisation in the various
phases of forward play was beginning to develop, and he was one
of the first to be given the specific job of hooker, for which he was
selected by Rowe Harding, who captained Wales against England
in the game in which Cecil gained his first cap in 1928. His opposite
number was Sam Tucker, whom he beat to the tune of 24 scrums
to 16, thereby establishing himself as the Welsh hooker. Cecil
played for Wales in every game in 1928 and 1929 and so set up a
record for Pontypool by getting eight caps in a row.“Born on the Tranch on May 1st, 1902, Cecil was the second
of three brothers all of whom started with the old Tranch Rovers
and gained fame in higher circles. The oldest, George (“Cogley”),
played full-back for Blaenavon, Torquay, Barnstaple and Devon,
and in both Welsh and English trials. Royce, the youngest,
played for Blaenavon and Abertillery. All three played against
the Waratahs in 1927-28 season : Cogley for Cornwall and Devon,
Cecil for Pontypool, and Royce for Cross Keys and Abertillery.

“Cecil went to Blaenavon in 1923 and helped that club to win
the Monmouthshire League medals, playing with his brother
Cogley.   The following season he came to Pontypool.   In those
days it was a case of “first up, first down,” and Cecil shone in every
phase of the forward game, besides being quite capable of giving .
a good account of himself at centre or full-back in an emergency.
His playing career lasted just over twenty years, his last season
was with Talywain. He captained Pontypool in 1928-29, and
played five times for Monmouthshire.

“Cecil has no doubt which was the hardest and best game he
ever played in : it was the game with the Maoris on New Year’s
Day, 1927. Next hardest was that at Perpignan during Pontypool’s
first French tour.

“A prolific scorer, Cecil set up a club record in 1926 when he
netted 21 points against Edgware ; a try, six conversions, a placed
penalty goal and a dropped penalty goal. This record was later
equalled by Frank Beddington. In each of two other games he
scored 14 points—against Belfast Collegians and in a final Welsh
trial at Cardiff.

“For the best part of one season (1929-30), Cecil played for
Bamstaple, for whom W. W. Wakefield (” Wakers “), the famous
English forward, was at that time turning out occasionally. Wake-
field’s international career had ended the season before Cecil’s


I recently received an email from Emrys Lewis, an old Westmonian who played for the school colts rugby team. He enclosed a photograph of the team which he thought some old visitors might like to see. I’m sure the photograph will stir up some memories for some people. Emrys is the boy holding the ball.


Last week I had an email from Lucy Jones who lives in Newport. She is doing some family research and said:

“My father is Paul Jones, a player of Pontypool RFC in the 60’s. But his father’s family are from Llanelli and I wanted some help from him looking there. Anyway, meanwhile I began looking at my mothers side. I have done quite well using the usual websites and have some names and dates to build upon. I am looking forward to building upon these names and dates. I have a rich Pontypool heritage it seems.

“I was interested in the fatality of Henry Whitcombe in the 1939 coach crash. I have a Henry Whitcombe in my tree (my great, great Uncle), however as the report in your blog states this chap was 62 in 1939, it doesnt quite fit with the Henry whitcombe I have as being some 7 years younger and born in Raglan. It says that Henry lived with his son, William. I have another great great Uncle called William Whitcombe who WOULD have been 62 in 1939. So, I cant help being interested in this. My great great grandfather to whom this family links is a John Henry Whitcombe (also found as Whitcomb). He was a 49yr old railway platelayer living at 8 Park Street, Griff in 1911. My mother talks of Park Street, so this house must have stayed in the family for many years. If John Henry came to Pontypool, maybe his brothers did too?”

If you are able to help Lucy in her search please either leave a comment on this page or email me and I shall forward your information to her.

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2 Responses to “Pontypool Rugby Reminiscences”

  1. tina Says:

    my grandfather always play in a comic rugby team to raise money for pontypool hospital after www1 he play every year in till he die in 1936 i have one picture of them all just wondering if anyone know anything about them thanks tina

  2. Robert L. Miles Says:

    Is not retlas – SALTER. The report above is twenty years before my birth. However I remember my g,father – Francis Lewis talking about a Jack Salter who worked alongside him at the Griffin Press and for the Free Press. Could this be your man?

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