Newport RFC : 1978/9 Season Summary

Season 1978/9
P45 W23 D2 L19 : F590-A480
(not incl South Africa Tour Matches)

South Africa Tour : P6 W0 D1 L5 : F104-A141

Capt : Geoff Evans

1978/9 saw Geoff Evans elected as captain for the 4th time and John Ryan taking a rest and being replaced by Syd Jeffries as coach and former player Adrian Hearn as assistant. John Ryan eventually went to Cardiff RFC where he helped them win the Welsh Cup for the first time as he had done at Newport. Vice captain Gareth Evans returned from Wales’ tour of Australia with a fractured cheek-bone while a leg injury kept Brynmor Williams out for 3mths. Serious injuries to Chris Webber, Jeff Cranton, Keith Jefferson, Bryan Lease and Phil Williams also contributed to a lack of success during the season. The playing record up until end of Jan 1979 was not too bad : P25 W15 D1 L9 but a further 10 defeats were t follow until the end of the season Geoff Evans captained the side with great dedication and enthusiasm and Colin Smart worked very hard and finally won his coveted English Cap.

Ken Davies was again top try scorer with 16 and in doing so joined the elite band of players who have scored more than 100 tries during their Newport careers. David Barry joined from Cardiff and was top points scorer with 171. Most appearances were made by David Burcher (36) Ken Davies (36), David Barry (35) and Steve O’Donoghue who had joined from Pontypool (35).

Other newcomers were Newport Youth full-back Mike Avery, scrum-half Gwynfor Williams (Brynmor’s brother) from Cardiff, hooker David Larner, back-rows David Bidgood and Mark McJennett (Cardiff) – son of Newport player and coach Ian. He went North to Barrow RL in Dec 1979. Colin Smart and David Burcher each passed 200 appearances for Newport RFC during the season.

Colin Smart played for England vs France and Wales and David Barry played for Wales B. Colin Smart also played for the Barbarians.

Newport toured South Africa in August 1979 under manager RT Evans and coach Sid Jeffrey. Gareth Evans captained the side but the tour was not a success and Newport lost 5 and drew 1 of the 6 matches played. Wing John Churchill played in all 6 matches scoring 4 tries. Chris Webber scored 3t, 3c, 2p, 1dg. Justin Robinson (utility back) made his debut on the tour and was to play many more games or Newport. His brother Julian also joined later.

TEAM P W D L PF PA PTS
Merthyr 30 23 0 7 885 593 117
Cardiff 30 22 1 7 991 660 111
Pontypridd 30 22 0 8 1015 580 110
Llandovery 30 21 1 8 856 551 104
Ebbw Vale 30 20 1 9 762 594 95
Aberavon 30 18 2 10 698 603 90
Newport 30 17 2 11 759 700 88
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 30 14 1 15 852 650 85
Swansea 30 16 0 14 674 594 81
Carmarthen Quins 30 13 1 16 637 584 71
Bridgend Ravens 30 12 0 18 689 714 66
Llanelli 30 12 1 17 679 723 63
Bedwas 30 12 1 17 681 830 62
Cross Keys 30 5 1 24 586 1093 36
Bargoed 30 6 0 24 576 1003 35
Neath 30 1 0 29 406 1274 3