Following the rugby trails during Freshers’ Week in 1964 I was delighted to be selected for the 1st XV after fewer than 10 games in senior rugby. The club’ officers had decided that only those who would commit to playing in both mid-week and weekend fixtures would feature in Swansea University (known then as University of Wales Swansea) games. This helped develop a strong team spirit which was the basis of later success.
A bruising opening win to Aberystwyth set the stage for winning the Swansea University Championship. Away to highly fancied Loughborough in the UAU semi-finals, an aggressive display by the pack and a resolute defence brought a 11-11 draw. The replay at Sketty Lane during RAG Week in front of a large crowd of enthusiastic supporters brought a 6-5 win over a team featuring several future caps and British Lions.
The UAU final against a strong Durham side was played on a snow-covered pitch at Moseley RFC. The game was drawn in front of a large contingent travelling Swansea supporters who sang the “College Yell” and “Sweet Molly Malone”. The trophy was shared.
The next two season brought further Swansea University success but two narrow UAU semi final defeats to Liverpool and Loughborough.
My appointment as Captain in the 1967-68 season was an interesting exercise in man-management but did not bring the success of the preceding seasons.
My selection for Swansea University and UWU representative teams brought a desire to ensure that my performance justified my selection and maintained Swansea’ reputation.
My first administrative role was Assistant Secretary of the RFC with the responsibility for “Kits, pitches and teas”! Later, I was elected the first Secretary of the newly established Athletic Union. Based in the recently built Union House, officers “Doc” Dale, Geoff Haden, Janet Vaz and I had the remit to encourage, develop and organize opportunities across a wide range of sports. It is gratifying to see how in the next half century the AU and University have grown, developed and brought success and enjoyment to so many students.
Times have changed; the College Bar shut at 10.00pm in my first year, and Wind Street housed banks and offices! However, strong and vivid memories remain. Who could forget the rugby tours to Cornwall? The friendships forged with so many feature leaders of Government, industry, education and the arts remain strong.
Our now more frequent meetings bring warm handshakes, ready smiles and reflections on what it was to experience the special bond of being a student and sporting representative of Abertawe.