• President
    • Gerald Davies CBE
  • Vice Presidents
    • Andrew Brace
    • DE Brierley
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    • Gerald Davies CBE
    • Jack Davies
    • Leighton Davies
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    • Dennis Gethin OBE
    • Wyn Oliver
  • Chairman
    • Jack Davies
  • Hon Secretary
    • Denys Thomas
  • Treasurer
    • Jon Davis
  • Vice Chairman
    • Tim Lowe
  • Match Secretary
    • Dr Keith Hughes
  • Head Coach
    • Adrian Evans
  • Executive Committee
    • Jack Davies
    • Denys Thomas
    • Jon Davis
    • Tim Lowe
    • Steve Williams
    • Adrian Evans
    • Dr Keith Hughes
    • Rhys Evans
    • Gethin Evans
    • Alun Wynne
    • Dr Brian Rees OBE
    • Wyn Hughes
    • David Williams
    • Gareth Nicholas
    • Richard Emms
    • Steve Whitehead
    • Paul Evans
    • Colin Workman
    • Bob Dyer
    • Paul Jones
    • Simon Thomas

Wartime Years - Keeping the Ball in Play

Dr Jack Matthews

 

Jack Matthews captained Cardiff, Wales and also the British Lions in one of their 1950 tour games in New Zealand. He played in all four Tests on that trip, won 17 Welsh caps and made 180 appearances at centre for Cardiff RFC. Here he recalls his war efforts on behalf of the Accies.

 

It is true to say that I did my best to help Welsh Academicals keep the ball alive during the war years while a student at Cardiff Medical College. I had actually joined the RAF as a fighter pilot for the Battle of Britain, but when the War Office discovered that I was a medical student they demobbed me and sent me back to Cardiff to resume my studies (though they caught up with me again later).

As with the miners and steelworkers my progres as a would-be doctor was deemed essential to the War Effort. Thus the "Meds" had enough young personnel, fit and eager for games of Rugby, to put a team together most weekends. On one occasion we played a wartime Cardiff XV and won by 28 points to 26.

Up at Mountain Ash Jimmy Austin was determined not to let the Welsh Academicals wither away through inactivity, and valued the players whom I could persuade to turn out in the red jerseys provided by the club (the rest of our kit we bought ourselves). They included StJohn Rees, later Cardiff RFC's full back, Tom Rosser, who became a cardiac surgeon, Roger Seal, an old Llandoverian and later a top pathologist in Cardiff, not to mention the late Peter Williams, father of JPR and his brothers.

From the mining community there were students from the prestigious Cardiff School of Mining like Billy Cleaver, Gerry Blackmore and George Tomkins, as well as colliers Maldwyn James and Cliff Davies who both played post-War International Rugby in the Wales front row.

On the whole, Accies fixtures were few and far between. However when they came they were often big challenges: for instance an Accies side which I captained took on a New Zealand Army XV in 1945. I can't remember the result-fifty five years ago, but I do recall that it was tough, and that several of our opponents went on to become All Blacks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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