Newport RFC : 1981/2 Season Summary

Season 1981/2
P45 W18 D2 L25 : F619-A735
(not incl British Columbia Tour)

Canada Tour : P3 W2 L1 : F60-A50

Capt : Kerry Williams

There was quite an influx of new players but sadly the playing record did not improve over the previous season under new captain Kerry Williams and coach Newport born Tony Faulkner the former Pontypool and Wales player. Among the new players at Rodney Parade were Wales B scrum-half Leighton O’Connor but he never really fitted and returned after just 17 games and lock / back-row and Wales B player David Fryer (Ebbw Vale ) who seemed destined for great things. He had been picked for Wales tour to N America in 1980 but had to withdraw due to injury. Centre Mark Fenwick (Bridgend) – brother of international Steve, outside-half Mike Goldsworthy (Penarth), Wales Schools / Youth hooker Paul Ransom (Blaina), fullback Mike Morgan, Bassaleg school scrum-half and England Colts captain Nigel Callard, back-row Nigel Wilkes and centre Chris Manley (Newbridge) were other new faces as was Wales international back row Stuart lane and Wales B hooker Mike Watkins who had understudied international Alan Phillips at Cardiff. “Spike” would play a significant part in Newport’s revival during the 1980’s and would become both Newport and Wales captain.

The season started with a win over Penarth, a narrow defeat at Coventry and a win over Bath at Rodney Parade. There followed an inept display at Bristol and a humiliating record defeat 46-9 by Pontypool at Rodney Parade. Newport never fully recovered from these two defeats and only won 10 of the remaining 22 games until the end of the year with the two highlights being a narrow defeat by Swansea and an outstanding win over a successful Gloucester team. The second half of the season continued to be disappointing with only 8 wins from 23 games. Newport did progress to the Welsh Cup Q/F before being comprehensively beaten by Aberavon at Rodney Parade. Captain Kerry Williams played 42 of the 45 matches as he tried to lift the team. Rhys Morgan and Colin Smart passed 250 appearances for the 1st XV while Gareth Evans and David Waters passed the 200 mark. These 4 together with Robert Ackerman, John Churchill, Alun Billinghurst and Roger Powell were the mainstays of the team. New outside half Mike Goldsworthy scored 236 pts from 35 games Robert Ackerman and Gareth Evans were leading try scorers with 10 each taking Gareth to 90 overall for the club.

54 players were used with Kerry Williams (42). John Widdecombe (41) and Gareth Evans (40) leading the appearances.
Nigel Callard received the Boucher Cup and John Widdecombe the Webber Bowl.

Rob Ackerman played for Wales vs Australia, England, Scotland, Ireland and France while Colin Smart played for England vs Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Wales to become Newport RFC’s most capped England player.
Rob Ackerman and Stuart Barnes played for the Barbarians.

Newport RFC under manager Bryn Williams and coach Tony Faulkner toured British Columbia where they played 3 matches winning 2 and losing to Vancouver 9-29 in the first match.

 Colin Smart : Newport RFC’s most capped Englishman