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Historical Rugby Milestones 1950s

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy

1950s A short Historical Back drop of Britain

  • 1950 Listen with mother and the Archers first aired.
  • 1951 First broadcast of the Goons show.
  • 1953 Coronation of Elizabeth II.
  • 1954 Roger Bannister breaks the 4 minute mile. The lord of the rings published.
  • 1955 Guiness book of records first published.
  • 1956 Queen opens the first commercial nuclear power station at Calder Hall.
  • 1957 Windscale nuclear reactor accident.
  • 1958 Munich air disaster. 23 people were killed outright or died later from injuries including 8 Manchester United players.
  • 1959 UK postcodes introduced.


The Bedford Town Colts team of l949/50 went through the whole season unbeaten but the officials of the Club were concerned that young men of under 18 years of age were not physically mature enough for first team football and that they should be encouraged to gain more experience before being picked for the Town side. The boys themselves did not want to split up and join other local clubs and so at a special meeting held on the 31st March 1950 and with the help of the Bedford Club, it was decided to form a new Rugby Club in the Town, mainly for young players of between 18 and 22 years of age. The names of both Rovers and Swifts were put forward for the new club and it appears that the meeting favored Rovers but an elderly gentleman who had been sitting quietly at the back of the room got to his feet and in a rather nervous voice introduced himself as the very last surviving member of the original Swifts that had ceased to operate in 1886. Those present listened intently when he made a special personal request that the new club take the name Swifts in order to ensure that the name was not lost forever. With a unanimous vote it was agreed the new club should be called Bedford Swifts Rugby Union Football Club.

In 1950 Renown pictures filmed Tom Brown's school days at Rugby school, see below:

rugby school 1950
rugby school 1950

12th March 1950

An AVRO-TUDOR V plane carrying 78 Welsh rugby fans and five crew crashed into a field near Llandow in the Vale of Glamorgan. The plane was packed with supporters fresh from celebrating a 6-3 victory over Ireland in Dublin which had given Walestheir first Triple Crown for 39 years and their eighth in all. Of the 83 people on board only three survived Abercarn RFC lost their captain Don Rowlands, coach Ray Box, centre Doug Burnett and their kit-man Albert Robbins. Five members of the Llanharan rugby team were also lost including Henry Pascoe.

On 25 March in the final game of the 1950 Championship against France at the Cardiff Arms Park, the crowd stood in silence while five buglers sounded a Last Post tribute to the memory of the supporters who had died in the plane crash.


Credit British Pathe News


Uruguay Rugby Union founded.


Law changed to standardize the scrum's front row to have three players. Law 15c.


March 8th - Wales, spearheaded by Cliff Morgan, won the Triple Crown for the ninth time with a 14-3 defeat of Ireland in Dublin. It was their first game there since 1927 (matches in the intervening period had taken place in Belfast) and their first win at Lansdowne Road since 1910. A fortnight later Wales beat France to complete the Grand Slam.


October 31st, The Fourth All Blacks began their tour with a convincing 24-0 win against the Southern Counties at Hove Greyhound Stadium.

Wales 13-8 New Zealand, Cardiff Arms Park, 19 December 1953

Scorers - Wales: Tries: Sid Judd, Ken Jones; Cons: Gwyn Rowlands (2); Pen: Rowlands

New Zealand: Try: Bill Clark; Con: Ron Jarden; Pen: Jarden

Wales: G Williams (London Welsh), KJ Jones (Newport), GM Griffiths (Cardiff), BL Williams (Cardiff, capt), G Rowlands (Cardiff), CI Morgan (Cardiff), WR Willis (Cardiff), WOG Williams (Swansea), DM Davies (Somerset Police), CC Meredith (Neath), ER John (Neath), JRG Stephens (Neath), S Judd (Cardiff), JA Gwilliam (Gloucester), RCC Thomas (Swansea)

New Zealand: RWH Scott, AEG Elsom, JM Tanner, RA Jarden, BBJ Fitzpatrick, LS Haig, K Davis, KL Skinner, RC Hemi, IJ Clarke, RA White, GN Dalzell, RC Stuart (capt), WA McCaw, WH Clark

Referee: Dr Peter F Cooper (England)


The first Murrayfield international televised in its entirety was the Scotland-New Zealand game in February 1954.

Scotland New Zealand
JC Marshall
JS Swan
MK Elgie
D Cameron
TG Weatherstone
GT Ross
LP MacLachlan
TPL McGlashan
RKG MacEwen
HF McLeod
EAJ Fergusson
EJS Michie
WID Elliot (c)
PW Kininmonth
JH Henderson
RWH Scott
MJ Dixon
CJ Loader
RA Jarden
DD Wilson
LS Haig
K Davis
BP Eastgate
RC Hemi
KL Skinner
GN Dalzell
RA White
PF Jones
RC Stuart (c)
WH Clark


Opening of new stand at Lansdowne Road, Dublin 31st December 1955

Scotland and Ireland (1 PG, 4T)—15 points;
England and Wales (3G, 1 PG)—18 points.

Scotland and Ireland - R. W. T. Chisholm (Melrose, Scotland); A. R. Smith (Cambridge University, Scotland), A. J. F. O'Reilly (Old Belvedere, Ireland), A. C. Pedlow (Queen's University, Belfast, Ireland), J. S. Swan (Coventry, Scotland); J. W. Kyle (N.I.F.C, Ireland, Captain), A. F. Dorward (Gala, Scotland); H. F. McLeod (Hawick, Scotland), R. Roe (Richmond, Ireland), P. J. O'Donoghue (Bective Rangers, Ireland), J. R. Brady (C.I.Y.M.S., Ireland), P. J. Lawlor (Clontarf, Ireland), J. T. Greenwood (Dunfermline, Scotland), T. E. Reid (London Irish, Ireland), A. Robson (Hawick, Scotland). Scorers - Tries by O'Reilly (2), Greenwood and Smith who also kicked a penalty goal.

England and Wales— G. D. Owen (Newport, Wales); K. J. Jones (Newport, Wales), W. P. C. Davies (Harlequins, England), M. C. Thomas (Newport, Wales), J. Roberts (Old Millhillians, England); C. I. Morgan (Cardiff, Wales, Captain), R. E. G. Jeeps (Northampton, England); C. C. Meredith (Neath, Wales), B. V. Meredith (Newport, Wales), W. 0. Williams (Swansea, Wales), T. R. Prosser (Pontypool, Wales), R. H. Williams (Llanelli, Wales), V. G. Roberts (Harlequins; England), I. D. S. Beer (Harlequins, England), R. E. Syrett (Wasps, England).

Scorers - Tries by Jones (2) and Morgan were converted by Owen who also kicked a penalty goal. Referee - S. Saulnier (France).

This game was described in the match programme as a 'housewarming party' to mark the opening of the impressive new stand and as it took place in Dublin on Hogmanay it could hardly have been anything else. It was also a game to remember with movements galore and seven sparkling tries to entertain the spectators. Once again the Scots-Irish scored four tries to three and were perhaps a little unlucky to lose. But whereas their tries were all scored near the corner flags and remained tries although Smith's kicks to add goal points were creditable attempts, the Anglo-Welsh tries, two of which were near the posts and the other only half-way out, were converted by Owen. In an initial attack a break by Pedlow, nicely supported by O'Reilly was completed by Smith and it gave Ireland-Scotland the lead after only three minutes. Twenty minutes later Owen kicked an easy penalty goal, but the Irish-Scots went ahead again when O'Reilly scored the first of his two tremendous trie's. Apparently hemmed in on the 25-line he went through like a tank, scattering defenders and crashing over with two men on his back. The game swung the other way in the few minutes before the interval. First Morgan after feinting to pass either way in midfield suddenly burst straight through to the posts, and next he gave a reverse pass to Thomas who went through and put Jones over, Owen converting both tries. With the last kick of the period Smith landed a long range penalty goal from the touch-line. The lead of four points was reduced to one midway through the second half when O'Reilly made a diagonal dash for the corner and scored. Jones, however, also scored his second try. Cutting in at top speed on to a pass from Thomas he left the defence standing and Owen made the try into a goal. Finally, a speedy follow-up gave Greenwood the last try for Ireland-Scotland. The Lions in that side who had toured in South Africa in the summer were Smith, O'Reilly, Pedlow, McLeod, Roe, Reid and Greenwood; those in opposition were Davies, Morgan, Jeeps, C.C. Meredith, B.V.Meredith, W.O.Williams and R.H.Williams.


To acknowledge that England have won all their Five Nations games that year, ‘The Times’ uses the expression ‘Grand Slam’. This is possibly the first time the expression is used in this context.


Wales played England at Twickenham but due to a supplier error, had to play in jerseys which did not contain the Welsh emblem, the prince of Wales feathers.

March 1st - France lose 14-0 to England in Paris, also the home crowd of more than 60,000 turned on them after a dismal first-half performance . The real fury was reserved for the selectors. "They were called distinctly rude names and some of their forbears too, and a yell went up for the blood of the chairman," reported the Times. After three first-half tries, England failed to capitalise on what newspapers described as "France's complete disintegration" and the second-half was best forgotten.


William Webb Ellis's grave is located in October 1959 at Menton, on the French riviera, France and is now cared for by local enthusiasts. His final resting place (Caveau numéro 957 dans le cimetiére du Vieux Château à Menton in the Alpes-Maritimes) was tracked down by Ross McWhirter of "Guiness book of records" fame and a local journalist and former rugby player Roger Dries. Once it had been renovated and decked with the Union Jack and the Tri-color it was visited by the President, the captain of the French team and a brass band.

New Zealand vs British Isles test series:

First Test 18 July, 1959 Carisbrook, Dunedin New Zealand 18 British Isles 17
Second Test 15 August, 1959 Athletic Park, Wellington New Zealand 11 British Isles 8
Third Test 29 August, 1959 Lancaster Park, Christchurch New Zealand 22 British Isles 8
Forth Test 19 September, 1959 Eden Park, Auckland New Zealand 6 British Isles 9

Bev. Risman plunges over to score the winning try against New Zealand for the British Isles, in the final test. Don Clarke is seen flying in from the left. New Zealand win the series 3 -1.

Tony Mason & Tony Wright found the famous traveling club, The Penguins in the hope of fostering the growth of the game and the friendship with other countries by playing open rugby. The Penguins have played all over the world including: America, Argentina, Bermuda, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Rhodesia (as was), Russia, South Africa, Switzerland, Sri Lanka, Zambia to name but a few.

17 October: TWICKENHAM JUBILEE MATCH - England and Wales -v- Ireland and Scotland (26 - 17).

England and Wales (4G, 2T) - 26 points;
Scotland and Ireland (1G, 1 PG, 3T) -17 points.

1959 Jubilee match

England and Wales - T. J. Davies (Llanelli, Wales); P. B. Jackson (Coventry, England),
M. C. Thomas (Newport, Wales), W. M. Patterson (Sale), J. R. C. Young (Oxford
University, England); A. B. W. Risman (Manchester University, England), R. E. G. Jeeps
(Northampton, England, Captain); T. R. Prosser (Pontypool, Wales), B. V. Meredith
(Newport, Wales), G. J. Bendon (Wasps, England), R. H. Williams (Llanelli, Wales),
J. D. Currie (Harlequins, England), H. J. Morgan (Abertillery, Wales), J. Faull (Swansea,
Wales), A. Ashcroft (Waterloo, England).
Scorers - Tries by Jackson, Currie, Ashcroft, Morgan, Risman and Davies who converted

Scotland and Ireland - K. J. F. Scotland (Cambridge University, Scotland); A. R. Smith
(Ebbw Vale, Scotland), M. K. Flynn (Wanderers, Ireland), D, Hewitt (Queen's University,
Belfast, Ireland), A. J. F. O'Reilly (Leicester, Ireland); G. Sharp (Stewart's College F.P.),
A. A. Mulligan (London Irish, Ireland); H. F. McLeod (Hawick, Scotland), A. R. Dawson
(Wanderers, Ireland, Captain), S. Millar (Ballymena, Ireland), J. W. Y. Kemp (Glasgow
H.S.F.P., Scotland), W. A. Mulcahy (University College, Dublin, Ireland), N. A. A.
Murphy (Cork Constitution, Ireland), J. T. Greenwood (Perthshire Academicals,
Scotland), G. K. Smith (Kelso, Scotland).
Scorers - Tries by Kemp, O'Reilly, Dawson, Millar. Hewitt, penalty and a conversion.
Patterson and Sharp who were later capped, were not internationalists at the time of the
Referee - J. F. Sampieri (France).

England-Wales owed their decisive win largely to a runaway start. After twenty-seven minutes they led 16-3 but the Scots-Irish fought back with such spirit and determination to 21-17 that with a little luck they could well have snatched victory. They were sunk however, in the closing minutes by being too venturesome. Hewitt risking all in the hope his side might gain a winning score tried to open out an attack from under his own goal posts. But he was caught in possession and had to drop the ball. Anglo-Welsh full-back Davies happened to be up and he fell on the ball to score and convert his own try. England-Wales had scored thrice to lead 11 -0 before Hewitt kicked a spectacular penalty goal for the Scots-Irish. It was an enormous kick from the centre spot and the ball carried high between the posts and into the crowd. The first Anglo-Welsh score was a splendid try by Jackson after neat play by Thomas and Patterson and Davies added the points. Next Currie dropped over from a line-out and Ashcroft scored a third try after Jackson had been held. Then from a loose scrummage pass Morgan scored and Davies again converted.

In a quick recovery prior to the interval Kemp, from a line-out, and O'Reilly after a combined move, scored tries for the Scots-Irish and Hewitt converted the first. There was some really splendid play by both sides which culminated midway through the half with a try by Risman and Davies again added the points. Then followed a couple of tries for the Scots-Irish which were cheered to the echo. The first was by Dawson, the team captain, who besides being his country's captain had been the so popular skipper of the Lions. Millar scored the other by completing an attack he started with an unstoppable charge to the posts. Unhappily a misunderstanding between Hewitt and the referee resulted in no kick being allowed. The final five points for the winners has been mentioned, Davies scoring eleven in all. All the England-Wales players except Bendon and Currie had been with the Lions and the exceptions in the losing team were A. R. Smith, Flynn, Sharp, Kemp and Greenwood.



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