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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

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A Review of Rugby at ABGS & ABCS to 1991

from Cynon Valley Leader 18 July 1991

School aims to put young players
into touch

WHEN Aberdare County Technical and Intermediate School opened in 1896 it was co-educational and had 140 pupils on its books. At that time rugby football had no place in the school’s organised games but this was soon to change.

In 1913 the school ceased to be co-educational, and the girls left for their own school in Cwmbach Road. In 1921* Mr James Excell arrived to take charge of physical education in the school, and he introduced rugby football to the games being played. At first fixtures were arranged at senior level and fixtures against the likes of Neath Grammar Technical, Cardiff High School and Lewis School Pengam were to continue for over half a century. Under Mr Excell, who was in charge of Physical Education until his retirement in 1958, the rugby tradition continued to grow and teams representing the school played at all age levels. This work has been ably carried on since 1985** by successive heads of physical education, namely, Mr Haydn Manning, Mr Keith Rogers, Mr Richard Zecca, Mr Gareth Protheroe, and the present head of Physical Education, Mr Graham Powell. These men, with the aid of masters within the school were able to increase the level of playing activity with age levels often producing two sides each year. Teams are currently playing at U12, U13, U14, U15, second and first XV level, with each group at U12, U13, U14, U15 often turning out two sides.

Tours are organised to Ireland and England at U12, U13 and U15, and both senior sides have organised tours outside Wales. These teams are continuing to fulfil the standards nurtured and then developed by Mr Excell and his successors and have made the school one of the most respected rugby breeding grounds in South Wales. The changeover from grammar to comprehensive school in 1978 has seen no diminution in the high standard of rugby produced by school teams at all levels. The tradition so ably developed has in no way been diluted.

The expertise instilled in the boys has been reflected in the representative honours gained in the last 30 years. Numerous boys have played in Welsh Trials at U15, U17, and U19. Boys from the school have gained international honours at U15, U16 and U18 levels. These include Wynford Bowen, Noel Davies, Merion Rees, David Young, Huw Jones, Nicholas Davies, Kevin Price, Gareth Rees and Darren Morris at U15 level. David Young and Nicholas Davies also represented Wales at U16 level. Carl Jones, Neil Eynon, David Moore, Steven Rogers and David Hall played for Wales B at U15 level. Bernard Evans (now a deputy headmaster at the school), Keith Rowlands (now Secretary of the International Rugby Board), Paul Szypryt, David Evans and Gareth Rees represented Welsh Schools at U18 level. Howard Evans, Neil Eynon and David Young represented the Welsh Youth (David Young captained the Welsh Youth and Wales U15). At full international level Keith Rowlands, David Young and David Evans have appeared for Wales, with Keith Rowlands and David Young going on British Lions Tours and becoming Test players. David Young is now playing Rugby League for Salford. David Evans has been chosen to go on the Welsh tour of Australia in the summer of 1991.

Many other lads have moved on from the senior sides to play first class rugby, and many are now playing in the new Leagues in Wales at all levels. Quite a tradition, but one which the school is determined to maintain.

* Mr Excell arrived as a permanent member of staff in 1922.

** Haydn Manning took charge from 1958, not 1985.

Earlier Players

Individuals mentioned in the newspaper article commence with Wynford Bowen in the 1950s, but there were some significant players in earlier days. Unearthing details however, is not so easy. Here are three worth mentioning, but I’m sure there must be others too.


William Llewellyn Morgan (1884–1960) was a Welsh international rugby union halfback who played club rugby for Cardiff. In fairness it should be pointed out that he was not at the Aberdare school for very long, (1896–97), and transferred to Christ College, Brecon where he probably learnt his rugby, and where his brother Teddy, (who also became a Welsh international), was a pupil. The family lived in Agents Row, Abernant.


In the 1922–1923 season Brinley C. Erricker was captain of the school’s Rugby XV. Mr Excell successfully put forward Brinley for the Welsh Secondary Schools XV in his first season in charge at Aberdare. Brinley played in the match against France. A short note in The Times newspaper revealed that after university Brinley played rugby for West Norfolk. He was brought up in Herbert Street, Foundry Town.


Rhigos boy Llewellyn Morgan Rees, (1913–72), was at the Aberdare school 1925–31, and captained the Rugby XV in the 1930–31 season. Later in life whilst in the south west of England, he played rugby for both Plymouth Albion and for the county of Devon. Eventually the standard of his game was such that he appeared as a Welsh international trialist. He became a teacher, university lecturer at Bangor, a writer & broadcaster, known as Llew Rees.