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 23 18 0 5 651 393 91
Cardiff 23 18 1 4 696 469 89
Pontypridd 21 16 0 5 730 374 79
Llandovery 24 16 1 7 652 408 79
Newport 25 15 2 8 629 551 77
Ebbw Vale 24 16 1 7 541 423 76
Aberavon 22 14 2 6 485 415 69
Swansea 24 13 0 11 537 451 65
Rygbi Gogledd Cymru 1404 22 11 1 10 552 456 64
Carmarthen Quins 25 11 1 13 526 469 61
Bedwas 24 8 1 15 515 667 43
Bridgend Ravens 22 8 0 14 427 517 43
Llanelli 25 7 1 17 503 632 40
Cross Keys 23 5 1 17 464 734 34
Bargoed 23 4 0 19 400 756 22
Neath 24 1 0 23 350 943 3