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Aberdare Boys’ Grammar School

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Aberdare Leader article about the Rugby first XV 1954–55

The Aberdare Leader of Friday March 31 1972 carried the following article about the 1954–55 team.
It includes the recollections of John Escott at a time when he had become a teacher at The Bishop’s School in Hereford.

from Roger Excell & Roger Hoyle

Leader comment on Rugby XV 1954-55

The team members were: John Davies, Alan John Thomas, Merlyn Bryan Gulley, Gareth W. Freebury, Roger S. Hoyle, Basil John Lewis, Hedleigh H. Marsh,
Robert T. Matthews, Brian T. Cooke (Secretary), John Wyatt Thomas, Alan Y. Biggins, Keith A. Rowlands, T. Colin Burke (Captain), Roy Brackston,
Ceri Taylor, Keith Williams, Maurice Britz, John F. Escott

A transcript of the article follows :—
THE ABERDARE Boys’ Grammar School, which celebrates its 75th anniversary this year, has produced many fine rugby fifteens throughout the years, but can any of those teams claim a better playing record than that of the 1954/55 season? (writes Michael Prosser).
The question is posed by a member of that highly successful combination, John Escott, who is now teaching at The Bishop’s School, Tupsley. Hereford, and who tells us that during that season the team played 15 matches, of which only one was lost, scoring 174 points and conceding only 26.
But the team’s most remarkable claim to fame is that 11 of the 15 teams they met failed to score against them, and that not one team managed to score a try against them in the team’s home matches of that season.
John writes: “It is very difficult to compare the rugby of various decades, but with so much spoken about fifteen-man rugby today, I remember that in our home game against Pontypridd Grammar—won by Aberdare 46‒3—Aberdare scored in the first minute, when from Pontypridd’s kick-off at least a dozen players were involved in a movement which swept the length of the field for the Aberdare right wing to cross in the corner with would-be tacklers strewn all over the field.”
John adds that the team had an enormous pack, with a No. 8 forward measuring 6ft. 5½ins., and that the elusive backs were guaranteed a plentiful supply of the ball. “The team captain was Cohn Burke, and the vice-captain Keith Rowlands ended an outstanding season for himself and the school when he for Wales against England at Cardiff Arms Park,” he says.
Standing in the picture are (left to right): J. Davies, A. J. Thomas, B. M. Cully, G. W. Freebury, R. S. Hoyle, B. J. Lewis, H. H. Marsh, R. T. Matthews, B. T. Cooke (secretary) and J. W. Thomas.
Sitting are Mr. E. J. Excell (games master). A. Y. Biggin, K. A. Rowlands, T. C. Burke, R. Brackstone, C. T. Taylor, K. Williams and Mr. J. Warren (headmaster).
In front are M. Britz and J. F. Escott.
• We’ll be pleased to hear of any Aberdare Grammar School teams who can challenge the claim of the 1954/55 team as the School’s best ever. Details please, with pictures if possible, to The Sports Editor, Aberdare Leader, Commercial Street, Aberdare.