31 March 2021 / Club News

International shirts returned to family

For some time, the Old Penarthians has been the home to a framed set of international rugby shirts presented to the Club by Gwynfryn Evans.  Gwyn, who unfortunately did not play for Old Penarthians, was connected to the Club through his son Jeff, who was a prop forward for the 1st XV in the 1960s and 70s, and the Club was honoured to have such valued family treasures to display to members and visitors.

Jeff and his sister Gillian have however recently decided that the memorabilia should now form a tangible link with their own families and have reclaimed their father’s display items for distribution to their children and grandchildren who are living in both the UK and Australia.

The Club was more than pleased to return the items but felt that the occasion should be marked with an acknowledgement to the achievements of Gwyn and those of his son Jeff.

Gwynfryn was born in 1918 and was brought up in Clydach whilst his early rugby years were at neighbouring Vardre. He played for Swansea RFC as an 18-year-old but later switched to football when his employers, the South Wales Police, decreed that rugby was a ‘barbaric activity’ and members of the Force were not allowed to play the sport.

Gwyn later transferred to Cardiff City Police and following service with the Royal Engineers in the 2nd World War he joined Cardiff RFC for the 1946/47 season.  Within six months, and despite being 29 years old, he was among 13 new caps selected by Wales to play against England at Cardiff Arms Park in the first Five Nations International since for end of the war.

Although managing to score a try, Gwyn ended up on the losing side with the visitors winning 9 points to 6.  He did however retain his place for the rest of the campaign and for the two following seasons.  In total he won a total of twelve caps with his final international match played against Ireland at St Helens, Swansea on 12th March 1949.

Jeff, who followed his father into Cardiff City Police, was not honoured on the rugby field in the same way as his father but was a feared tight head prop forward for Old Penarthians at a time when only ‘real men’ could scrummage. 

Jeff remembers that his first game for the Club was away in Newport, in the company of club legend John Ratcliffe, and like his father scored a try on debut.  The result is however lost in the mists of time.  Where is Roy Churchill when you need all the facts and figures?

Paul Newman another formidable front row forward for the Club tried to persuade Jeff to play loose head prop but after a few painful experiences he decided that a move to the tight head side would ensure a longer career. The other side of the scrum was then occupied by the likes of Peter Frost and Nick Chandler.

Jeff and Nick were an inseparable duo both on and off the field and the days of volunteer bar staff at the Club meant that Thursday evenings after training when they were in charge were only a rehearsal for the drinks that were partaken after matches on a Saturday.

Jeff was however good enough to receive East District representative honours and he remembers (just) the early Sunday morning training sessions with fellow Old Penarthian Nigel Williams. He also captained the Club in the 1971/72 season. The record for the season showed that the 1st XV won 10 of the 32 games played but the team did at least do the double against Dinas Powys and beat Penarth Athletic in the traditional Boxing Day fixture.

Both Gwyn and Jeff served their communities in their careers and both enjoyed their rugby careers at the levels that they played.  Old Penarthians are therefore pleased to return the material memorabilia to the family to add to the rugby stories that accompany their sporting endeavours.

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