Aberdare Boys Grammar School



The Mystery Rugby Photograph

from School Archives

SchoolBoy International 1925 Ynys

This photograph was found in a long-abandoned box of various school memorabilia. Initially it was not apparent why the school had retained the photo until Mr Aubrey Roberts was spotted in the group; he was the school’s head of history. He is standing on the right next to the senior police officer. The next puzzle was to identify the occasion—it was clearly not the school’s rugby team because all the players were wearing Welsh Caps. Most fortuitously, a short clip of silent movie footage was discovered on the Brutish Pathé Newsreel website depicting the same team and some of the same adults as in the old school photograph.

Consequently, it was possible to identify the occasion as being that of a Welsh schoolboy international played against France in April 1925, at the Ynys field in Aberdare. Mr Roberts appears in the movie sequence starting at 12 seconds and is standing second from the right as the players come up to receive their caps. The short sequence of the British Pathé newsreel can be seen at the link below,

The person who British Pathé describe as the mayor, would have been the High Constable of Miskin Higher, who, in the spring of 1925, would have been Dr Arthur Jones of Mountain Ash.

Finally, the question arose as to what was the involvement of Mr Roberts at the event? The answer came in the Aberdare Leader report of his retirement in 1945. The paper reported: “Later on [in his sporting activities] he became one of the founders and chairman of the Aberdare Rugby Club. He brought three International rugby teams to the Ynys, comprising two matches with the French schoolboys—one of which drew a record ‘gate’ for such a match, and the third the New Zealand touring side of 1935. ... The achievement in which he takes most pride is the creation of the Welsh Secondary Schools Rugby Union. He was one of its original founders—for 11 years its treasurer, for two years its chairman, and then, as a reward, for his services, he was elected a life member.”

The result of the 1925 French match was Wales: 0 — France: 6.

Aubrey Roberts’ career is described in the Teachers’ section of this website.