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REES STEPHENS

(John Rees Glyn Stephens, born Neath 16th April 1922)

Llandovery College, Neath, Wales, Barbarians & British Lions

 

     

 

 

For longevity Rees Stephens can hardly be matched in the post-second world war era. making his debut for Wales during 1945/6 in a victory international against France at the age of 23, he played his last game for Wales in Paris in 1957 just a few days short of his 35th birthday! Indeed he was still playing the odd first-class game at 40. At the time he left the international scene he was the most capped Welsh forward - his nearest rival being George Travers, who retired in 1911. 

One of the few sons of a Welsh international to play for Wales himself, Rees Stephens had a lot to follow. His father, Glyn, had played for Wales in 1912 and 1913 before reappearing against the N.Z. Army XV of 1919. Glyn Stephens also became President of the Welsh Rugby Union. Rees was born in Neath in 1922 and very soon showed his prowess on the Rugby field by being capped for the Welsh schools at under 14 level. Big for a young lad he then went on to Llandovery school where he won a further Welsh secondary Schools' honours. Working in his father's mines during the war Rees played as much scratch Rugby as he could. When war ended he soon made his mark in senior rugby. 

Throughout his career Stephens switched back and forth between second row and No.8 (although originally a no.8) but many critics felt that he should have always stayed in the front five. He was a superbly fit tight worker who played with plenty of fire and aggression. When the battle was hottest he was at his best, taking particular delight always in fighting the French off at Colombes. It was his brilliant pack  leadership and captaincy in 1955 and 1957 that turned the games in Paris in Wales favour. Always mobile in the loose he contested the rucks and mauls vigorously, while his line-out jumping was useful. But in support work he was exceptional, particularly with people like Don Hayward, Billy Williams and John Gwilliam in protecting Roy John in the early fifties. As a leader he led by example from the front - and people played for him and his intensity of effort.

After playing against France in 1945/6 he played against the Kiwis in the second row and in several other 'victory' internationals. When rugby resumed properly in1946/7 Stephens played his part in the brilliant Neath pack that won the welsh club championship. He gained his first full cap against England at Cardiff in January, 1947, at no.8 and scored a good try. In Paris he showed plenty of fire and vigour in an 'overheated' match which Wales won 3-0. But, on Les Mansfield's return to the No.8 position in 1947/8, Stephen's had to wait until the Irish game to play again in the second row.

In 1949 injury kept Stephens out of the English game, but he played in the remainder of that disastrous season at No.8 with Gwilliam in the second row. At Twickenham in 1950, agonisingly, Stephens had to drop out and miss the chance of captaining Wales for the first time - he was the second choice after Bleddyn Williams. Then he could not get back into the side because his club-mate, Roy John, played so very well. His luck seemed to have changed however,  when he and Bleddyn Williams who had both missed the Grand Slam , were chosen for the British Lions tour of Australasia. But he injured his shoulder in the opening fixture and did not play again until the eleventh game. Although he would have been invaluable in the tests, Stephens was never properly fit enough to challenge for a place in the New Zealand series, but he played in both  in Australia. 

Back home he could not regain his Welsh place, until the selectors really shook the side up for Paris in April, 1951. But a tired Wales slumped 3-8. So, After five years post-war rugby, Stephens had a bare nine caps to show for his efforts, but then he moved more regularly into the second row to pack with his club-mate John and played some sterling rugby for Wales. He was an integral part of that great 1951/2 Grand Slam pack, scoring the first try against Ireland, and began to lead the Welsh pack in 1953, after Gwilliam was dropped against Scotland. 

In 1954 he led Wales for the first time at Twickenham when Bleddyn Williams withdrew, but Wales lost 6-9. It was after this match that John, Dai Davies and Gwilliam left the international scene, but Stephens, at 31 years and six months, kept on going, never losing his edge. He led Wales to a last minute victory in Ireland but injury kept him out for the rest of the season. In 1955 he led the pack well and captained Wales against Ireland and France from No.8. The victory in Paris was most unexpected with the French bidding for their first outright championship. Unfortunately with an age limit of 30 put on Lions tour candidates, Stephens failed to make South Africa in 1955. Dropped against England in 1956, he was recalled to lead the pack against Scotland, but failed to rouse the Welsh eight to a Triple Crown at Dublin. Playing throughout 1957, he led Wales to victory over Ireland and France. Amazingly he had won more caps after the age of 30 than before !

From "A Century of Welsh Rugby Players" with thanks to Wayne Thomas 

 

PART OF THE REES STEPHENS COLLECTION - ITEMS WE HAVE AVAILABLE OR HAVE SOLD AT RUGBY RELICS

 

JERSEYS

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BRITISH LIONS 1950 MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY No 27 - REES STEPHENS - A match worn British Lions jersey from the 1950 tour of New Zealand & Australia. Rees Stephens played 14 matches during this tour including the two tests against Australia. Stephens was injured in the first match against Nelson, missing all 4 New Zealand tests but recovered to force his way into the test team for the Australian leg of the tour. The jersey (approx 42" chest) which is by RW Forsyth is most likely the jersey he wore in those tests, the Lions players kept the tour numbered jerseys for the test matches.

46.jpg (418885 bytes) BRITISH LIONS RUGBY DINNER BLAZER 1950 by DAKS - An official British Lions dinner blazer from the 1950 tour of New Zealand & Australia. The blazer is by DAKS of London AND IS 100% wool. There is no size to the blazer, I'd estimate 44" - 46". Players in the 1950 British Lions tour party would have been issued 2 blazers, one with the date underneath the badge for travelling and official functions, the other, this type for after match dinner functions. There is some damage to the fabric on the bottom right hand side of the blazer where it looks like it may have been caught in a car door, to the sleeve with a few other nicks here and there, (nothing to serious) to the material, both buttons are also missing from the sleeves. 
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BRITISH LIONS XV 1955 (v WALES) MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY No 15 - REES STEPHENS - A match worn British Lions jersey from the 1955 Welsh Rugby Union 75th Anniversary match against at Cardiff Arms Park on 22nd October. The majority of the selected Lions team was made up of members of the 1955 British Lions tour of South Africa and was captained by Cliff Morgan. Rees Stephens was a late replacement for Clem Thomas who withdrew through injury. The Lions defeated Wales by 20 points to 17 with Rees scoring a try in this jersey. The jersey is by Bukta (Dyfast, Tuffknit) (a 40" chest) and is in good condition. Post match it has not been washed and there is mud on the front and back, particularly on the collar and number.

Wales v Lions 1955 match report - CLICK HERE

69.jpg (137359 bytes) 68.jpg (108242 bytes) 70.jpg (134745 bytes) 71.jpg (203243 bytes) ENGLAND MATCH WORN INTERNATIONAL No 5 RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1952 - 1957. - A No 5 England jersey that has been exchanged post match with the Welsh international Rees Stephens. The jersey is by Lillywhites and is size 36". Although the jersey is in good condition there is some colour run to the red rose which has bled into the surrounding area. Rees Stephens played against England on 6 occasions, in 1947 (Perry), 1952 (JE Woodward), 1953 (JE Woodward), 1954 (JE Woodward), 1955 (RC Bazley), & 1957 (PH Thompson). The England No 5 players appear in brackets after the years. In 1947 England were playing the current 1 (prop forward) to No 15 (full back) numbering system and No 5 was a second row but by 1952 they had changed to No 1 at full back and No 15 was a back row forward with No 5 on the wing. we can safely say that with a 36" chest this jersey would have belonged to a wing so is almost certainly from the 1952 - 1957 period. Consequently it may actually have belonged to PH Thompson in the England 1957 Grand Slam season.      
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ITALY MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1960s - A well worn Italian No 4 international jersey, circa 1960s from the Rees Stephens collection. the jersey has a 42" chest, the badge is faded and there is a tear to the collar, the number on the reverse has started to peel off,  it is unknown how Rees came about this jersey.    

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ITALY MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1955 - 1969 No 16 - This jersey is believed to be an Italian national jersey circa 1955 - 1969, although lacking a label this is a nice quality jersey with quilted shoulders, we are unsure how Rees would have obtained this jersey, the jersey is in good condition although it is a little musty.  

11.jpg (535454 bytes) JAPAN No 4 MATCH WORN INTERNATIONAL RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1970s - A Japanese international rugby jersey by Sceptre, chest approx 40". The collar gives this jersey away as being manufactured by Canterbury of New Zealand or under their licence. It is unknown how Rees Stephens came by this jersey but most likely it is from the 1973 tour of Wales when a West Glamorgan combined team played in Neath, at the time Rees was a member of the Big Five (Welsh Selectors), heavily involved with the Neath club and owned a hotel in Neath, so he would have been in contact with this on numerous occasions. The fabric of the jersey is in good condition apart from the number 4, the backing has started to come away, but the colours have run slightly on the jersey and there are some patches of dirt.
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WALES (v INTERNATIONAL XV) EMPIRE GAMES MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY 1957 - A No 11 Welsh team jersey from the Empire Games fund raising match at Cardiff Arms Park on 6th April 1957. The jersey is by Bukta (Dyfast, Tuffknit) and is a 40" chest. This jersey was worn by the Welsh captain Rees Stephens, The international XV was made up of English, Irish and Scottish players. Wales won the match 17 - 16. The overall condition of the jersey is very good with one or two nicks to the material, Rees has written his name on the back of the collar.

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WALES MATCH WORN No 12 RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1953-1957 - A Welsh no 12 jersey from the collection of Rees Stephens, Neath, Wales, Barbarians & British Lions. At the time of his retirement from international rugby in 1957 Stephens was the most capped Welsh forward with 32 appearances (not including 5 uncapped). Other milestones in his career included becoming the first father & son combination to captain Wales, (his father Glyn captained Wales in 1919), scoring Wales' first 5 Nations post war try against England in 1947 and playing in the last Welsh victory over the All Blacks in 1953. This unlabelled jersey is believed to have been used in the period 1953-1957. Matches in which Rees played No12 in this period include against Ireland 1953 & 1954, Scotland 1956 and France 1956 & 1957. The match against France in 1957 when Rees captained the team was his last appearance in the Welsh jersey and it's possible that this jersey originates from this match. The jersey is in very good condition with no noted flaws apart from a small patch of dirt on the front.   

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WALES MATCH WORN No 14 RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1955 - A Welsh no 14 jersey from the collection Rees Stephens, Neath, Wales, Barbarians & British Lions. At the time of his retirement in 1957 Stephens was the most capped Welsh forward with 32 appearances (not including 5 uncapped). Other milestones in his career included becoming the first father & son combination to captain Wales, (his father Glyn captained wales in 1919) and scoring Wales' first 5 Nations post war try against England in 1947. This unlabelled jersey is believed to have been used in the 1955 season, a season in which Stephens wore No 14 when he captained Wales against Ireland, he also wore No 14 against Scotland. This jersey is consistent with jerseys used in this season with a thinner 3 feathers and black numbers on white squares.

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CCRFC MATCH WORN RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1965 - 1975 - A jersey for an unknown club with initials CCRFC circa 1965 - 1975. The jersey is by Umbro and is approx a 38" chest. it is in very good condition with no noted faults

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AN UN-NUMBERED NEATH (or ATHLETIC) RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1960s FROM THE REES STEPHENS COLLECTION - Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath Neath (possibly Athletic) jersey circa 1960s - grubby but complete, chest size approx 38", from the Rees Stephens collection. 

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ROYAL NAVY 1956 MATCH WORN No 8 RUGBY JERSEY - RON WALDRON, NEATH & WALES - A 1956 Royal Navy jersey that is believed to have been worn by Ron Waldron in the 1956 Inter Services Championship. Ron was a great friend of Rees Stephens and is believed to have given the jersey to Rees after the Championship. the 1956 Services Championship was a 3 way tie with the Army beating the Navy, The RAF beating the Army and the Navy triumphing over the RAF. The jersey is by Umbro (Tangero), the condition is grubby with some separation to the seams on the shoulders, it is a 36" chest.

04.jpg (522432 bytes)   UNKNOWN RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1950 - 1970 POSSIBLY SCOTLAND & IRELAND COMBINED ? - A jersey that looks to be a combined Scotland & Ireland jersey but is of unknown origin. There is a small label with number 19 on it and there is a snag to the back of the jersey which has possibly occurred when a number was removed from the jersey. Rees Stephens has thought it important enough to display it at the Neath Athletic clubhouse and to write his name on the back of the collar. a regular occasion at Neath was the annual Neath v Rees Stephens International XV to raise funds for the Neath YMCA so possibly it is a jersey from the international team, we just don't know. Size - chest approx 42".
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NEATH ATHLETIC RUGBY CLUB CHAIRMAN'S CARDIGAN SIZE 48" - Rees Stephens founded the very successful Neath Athletic RFC in the late 1940s. He was chairman for many years, This 'super acrylic' cardigan is by Balmoral and has Neath Athletic RFC Chairman embroidered to the chest. There is a small stain on one of the pockets. 

03.jpg (526069 bytes) WELSH INTERNATIONAL SOCCER - MATCH WORN No 7 WALES FOOTBALL JERSEY CIRCA 1950s - A match worn Wales Football jersey from the Rees Stephens rugby jersey collection, it is unknown how Rees obtained this jersey, which is size 38" chest and by Jack Sharp of Liverpool. The shirt is in good condition with the occasional patch of mud/discolouration to the material.

 

MEMORABILIA

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WALES v ENGLAND 1949 GILBERT MATCH MINIATURE SIGNED RUGBY BALL - A signed Gilbert Match Miniature ball by the Wales and England teams that met in the 1949 Five Nations fixture at Cardiff. the majority of the signatures remain legible but are a little crowded and some are difficult to read due to the mis-shapen ball. Identified signatures include John Gwilliam, Gwyn Evans, Ken Jones, Frank Trott & Dai Jones of Wales, J Gregory & A henderson of England, Wavell Wakefield has also signed the ball. Although not playing in this fixture it is highly likely that Rees was a reserve, he played in all three of the other five nations matches in the 1949 season.

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WALES TRIPLE CROWN WIRE EMBROIDERED FINE RUGBY BLAZER BADGE CIRCA 1952 - A superbly intricate wire embroidered blazer badge celebrating a Welsh Triple Crown season. The badge measures 14cm x 10cm. The only triple crown / grand slam season in which Rees played was 1952 so we are assuming that the badge dates from then. there is a small piece missing from the surface of the badge, top right hand corner otherwise it is in very good condition. The quality of this item needs to be seen to be believed. 

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GILBERT MATCH II SIGNED (by WELSH TEAM) RUGBY BALL CIRCA 1956 - 1957 - A Gilbert Match II ball lacking laces and assumed to have a perished bladder with several signatures. the majority of signatures are faded and the only one we can be sure of is Onllwyn Brace whose first cap for Wales was in 1956. Rees and Onllwyn's careers overlapped for the 1956-57 seasons so we are assuming that the ball dates from then.

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WALES v ENGLAND 1938 SCHOOLS SIGNED RUGBY BALL - A signed Greban ball by the Wales and England schools teams that met in the annual schools match at Cardiff Arms Park on 21st March 1936. The ball is from the Rees Stephens collection, Rees was the Welsh captain and the only player to have been previously capped in the Welsh team, it's most likely that this was the actual ball used in the match. The majority of signatures are faded but a lot can be read by rotating the ball under a light. Noted signatures include Longbottom, Wills & lancaster of England, Welsh reserves Nash & Harries & Thomas, Davies & Prater of the Welsh team.

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AUSSIE SUPER WAO MATCH RUGBY BALL CIRCA 1950 LIONS TOUR OF AUSTRALIA - A full size Aussie Super WAO leather ball manufactured by T B Luke of Brisbane that was most likely used as a match ball during the Britsh Lions tour of Australia 1950. Rees Stephens played in 5 matches of the Aussie leg of this tour including both tests. The ball is folded, lacking most of the lace and the bladder has perished.

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AN EXTREMELY WELL WORN PAIR OF RUGBY BOOTS, CIRCA 1950-1965. - These boots have seen far better days, they are coming apart at the seems, a stud is missing and they have no laces, but they are from the collection of a man who played 32 times for Wales, 14 times for the Lions, hundreds of matches for Neath, he refereed, run the line, started clubs, was a Wales & British Lions selector, was on the committee for the Barbarians, it's impossible that he did all that in these boots but he must have done quite a bit.

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WALES v SCOTLAND 1954 TOUCH JUDGES FLAG, LAST 5 NATIONS MATCH, ST HELENS, SWANSEA - A double sided touch judges flag for the last 5 Nations match at St Helens, Swansea. it was at this ground that Wales played their first ever home international match against England in December 1882. Ivor Jones the former Llanelli & Wales player and WRU committeeman ran the line at this match but post match the flags were normally presented to the president's of the Unions. It is thought that Rees was presented with the flag because originally he was selected as captain against Scotland 30th January 1954 but this match was postponed and re-arranged for April 10th, by which time he had suffered an injury and failed to regain his place. Wales won the match 15-3, Billy Williams, Bryn Meredith, ray Williams and Cliff Morgan scored tries and Viv Evans licked a penalty goal.

 

 

CAREER INFORMATION

Capped appearances for Wales 

1947 v England, (1 try), Scotland (letter N), France & Ireland

1948 v Ireland

1949 v Scotland (letter N), Ireland & France

1951 v France & South Africa (No 11) 

1952 v England, Scotland (No 11), Ireland (No 11) (1 try) & France (No 11)

1953 v England, Scotland (No 11), Ireland (vice capt. No. 12), France & New Zealand (No 11)

1954 v England & Ireland (capt. No. 12) 

1955 v England (No 11), Scotland (1 con) (No 14), Ireland (capt. No. 14) & France

1956 v Scotland (No 12), Ireland ( No. 12) & France

1957 v England (No 12), Scotland (No 12), Ireland (capt. No. 11) & France (No 12)

Rees was selected as captain against Scotland 30th January 1954 but this match was postponed, he retained his captaincy for the match against Ireland on March 13 and was selected again as captain against France on 27th March, he withdrew from this match with a neck injury and failed to regain his place for the re-arranged match against Scotland on April 10th.   

Wales changed the numbering system in 1950 from letters (a = full back to O = back row row) to numbers (1 = full back to 15 = back row) 

 

Uncapped appearances for Wales

4 victory internationals (inc v Scotland 2 Feb 1946)

v International XV 1957 (capt. No. 11)

 

BRITISH LIONS

14 appearances for the British Lions during the 1950 tour of Australia & New Zealand, 

1 appearance for a British Lions XV against Wales in the WRU 75th anniversary match (against a Welsh XV)

 

BARBARIANS

Rees was first elected to play for the Barbarians in 1947, he played against 2 major tourists, South Africa 1952 & New Zealand 1954 and was also a committee member.

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

03.jpg (174525 bytes) REES STEPHENS, LLANDOVERY COLLEGE 1930s FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO. An individual photo by Harry Jones, Neath of Rees wearing his 1936-7 Llandovery College blazer & cap. Framed & glazed, the total size including frame is 8.5" x 11.5" (22cm x 29cm)

FROM THE COLLECTION OF REES STEPHENS (WALES 1946-1957, BRITISH LIONS 1950)

02.jpg (172483 bytes) REES STEPHENS, WELSH SCHOOLS 1930s MOUNTED PHOTO. An individual photo by Harry Jones, Neath of Rees wearing his 1935 Welsh Schools cap, the total size including the mount is 8" x 11" (21cm x 28cm)  
01.jpg (177420 bytes) REES STEPHENS, NEATH RFC 1940s FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO. An individual photo by Harry Jones, Neath of Rees wearing a Neath jersey. Framed in wood & glazed, the total size including frame is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm) 
00z.jpg (191292 bytes) REES STEPHENS, NEATH RFC 1940s FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO. An individual photo by Harry Jones, Neath of Rees wearing a Neath jersey. Framed in metal (possibly silver) & glazed, the total size including frame is 6" x 8" (15cm x 20cm). A small part of the frame has broken off on the top left.     
00y.jpg (136444 bytes) DAVID MEMORIES OF LONDON SIGNED FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO. An individual photo of an unknown subject signed 'Memories of London, David' with another smaller signature in a different hand underneath this. Framed & glazed, the total size including frame is 6.5" x 10" (15cm x 26cm)     
00x.jpg (196874 bytes) RON WALDRON (NEATH & WALES) SIGNED FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO. An individual photo of Ron Waldron in a sailor outfit signed 'to Rees with best wishes, Ron' Framed & glazed, the total size including frame is 8.5" x 12" (22cm x 30cm)     
00w.jpg (147394 bytes) REES STEPHENS, NEATH RFC 1947 FRAMED & GLAZED PORTRAIT. A hand drawn portrait by Jay of Rees in Weston-super-Mare 1947. The portrait is glazed with taped sides, the total size is 7.5" x 10" (19cm x 25cm)
64.jpg (264166 bytes) GLYN STEPHENS, PRESENTING CUP FRAMED & MOUNTED PHOTO. An photo of Glyn Stephens (1891-1965, Neath, Welsh Schools & Wales) presenting an unknown cup, most likely for a schools rugby tournament, the frame is dated Swansea, 1952, the total size including the frame & mount is 10" x 12" (26cm x 32cm). There is a small amount of water damage to the mount, not affecting the photo.
00u.jpg (107103 bytes) NEATH ATHLETIC TROPHY ROOM PLAQUE - The contents of this trophy room has been entrusted to Neath Athletic RFC by its chairman, Mr Rees Stephens. In recognition of the very happy times spent, of friendships made, and the high traditions maintained since it's formation in 1947, March 6th 1981.
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PHOTO MONTAGE LLANDOVERY COLLEGE & ARMY - 3 PHOTOS - An individual photo of an unknown subject flanked by 2 team group postcards, an Army XV dated 1934 and Llandovery College captained by Rees Stephens. Framed & glazed, the total size including frame is 19.5" x 6.5" (50cm x 16cm)     
00q.jpg (212894 bytes) WELSH SECONDARY SCHOOLS RUGBY XV 1938/9 FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO.  A pre-match team photograph to include the following players:

L Smith, G Hirst, C Cobledick, Elvet Jones, Rees Stephens, A McLean, E Ponton, D Sambrook, G Davies, A Loveluck,  Jack Matthews, D Davies, C Michael, K.A.N Spray, A Pritchard. 

Framed & glazed by H A Chapman, Swansea, the total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo

00p.jpg (222794 bytes) WELSH SCHOOLS RUGBY XV 23 Mar 1935 PHOTO (v ENGLAND at LEICESTER).A pre-match team photograph from the Rees Stephens collection, 

Framed but not glazed, the total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some minor damage to the mount on the right hand side. 

00o.jpg (194581 bytes) INTERNATIONAL RUGBY BOARD COMMITTEE PHOTO 1954.  An official IRB committee photo for the meetings at North Berwick & Edinburgh in March 1954, to include the following members of the committee:

Hopkin Thomas, wales, E Watts Moses, England, Glyn Stephens, Wales, H Waddell, Scotland, B Thornley, Australia, GPS Hogan, Ireland, H Thrift, ireland, N Mckenzie, New Zealand, RK Cuthbertson, Scotland, ED Tudhope, South Africa, Co B.C. Hartley, England. 

The photograph is mounted onto a printed board, total size including frame is 20" x 16" (51cm x 41cm). There is some discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo, from the collection of Rees Stephens, son of Glyn. 

00n.jpg (241257 bytes) LLANDOVERY COLLEGE RUGBY XV 1939 / 1940 FRAMED PHOTO.  A pre-match team photograph to include the following players:

H Prothero, J Edwards, T Hart, WG Tracy, JP Pugh, DG Jones, HC Williams, DA Evans, JW bowen, JWD Jenkins, JRG (Rees) Stephens, WH Gorman, G Evans, HE Roberts, DL Roberts

The total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo

00m.jpg (227982 bytes) LLANDOVERY COLLEGE RUGBY XV 1938 / 1939 FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO.  A pre-match team photograph to include the following players:

TE Williams, JE Lewis, TJF Roberts, TG Bowling, TLA Morgan, JH Williams, WH Gorman, KCY Wilson, WG Thomas, PDV Harrett, JWD Jenkins, WH Perkins (Capatin), JRG (Rees) Stephens, A Jones, JW Bowen, HJC Rees, DI Bowen 

The total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some light foxing and discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo. 

00l.jpg (229388 bytes) LLANDOVERY COLLEGE RUGBY XV 1937 / 1938 FRAMED PHOTO.  A pre-match team photograph of the Llandovery College XV although only 14 players appear in the photograph. The photo is from the Rees Stephens collection and official  indivdual team groups of the College XV exist in the collection for the seasons 1936/7, 1938/39 & 1939/40 but there is no team group for 1937/8 so we are assuming this is the team photo for that season. Pictured in the centre of the group is DP Owen who captained the College in 1936/7. Listed below are the players who appear in the official 1936/7 & 1938/9 photographs so I think it is safe to assume that the players in this photograph will appear on this list.  

1936/7 - HGB Hopkins, WM Davies, D James, JWD Jenkins, JRG (Rees) Stephens, ET Griffiths, REL Powell, MJG Davies, HD Walters, JW Evans, DP Owen (Captain), JP Williams, JR Davies, WH Perkins, EL Jones 

1938/9 - TE Williams, JE Lewis, TJF Roberts, TG Bowling, TLA Morgan, JH Williams, WH Gorman, KCY Wilson, WG Thomas, PDV Harrett, JWD Jenkins, WH Perkins (Capatin), JRG (Rees) Stephens, A Jones, JW Bowen, HJC Rees, DI Bowen 

The total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some very slight discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo

00k.jpg (216424 bytes) LLANDOVERY COLLEGE RUGBY XV 1936 / 1937 FRAMED & GLAZED PHOTO.  A pre-match team photograph to include the following players:

HGB Hopkins, WM Davies, D James, JWD Jenkins, JRG (Rees) Stephens, ET Griffiths, REL Powell, MJG Davies, HD Walters, JW Evans, DP Owen (Captain), JP Williams, JR Davies, WH Perkins, EL Jones 

The total size including frame is 19" x 15" (49cm x 39cm). There is some foxing and discolouration to the mount, not affecting the photo. 

00h.jpg (277150 bytes) REES STEPHENS, WELSH SCHOOLS 1930s FRAMED PHOTO, NEATH SUPPORTERS CLUB. An individual colour photo (possibly hand coloured) by Harry Jones, Neath of Rees Stephens wearing his 1935 Welsh Schools cap. The caption underneath the photo reads " Presented to John  Rees Stephens on attaining School Boy International Honours by the Neath Supporters Club 1935. The total size including the frame is 20" x 24" (51cm x 61cm). There is some light foxing to the mount, not affecting the photo. 

 

ADDITIONS TO THE WORLD RUGBY MUSEUM COLLECTION

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AN UN-NUMBERED NEATH (or ATHLETIC) RUGBY JERSEY CIRCA 1960s by UMBRO FROM THE REES STEPHENS COLLECTION on which Rees has added the following jersey badges starting top left and working clockwise: Pirates RFC (possibly the South African club), French international badge, Neath, Wales, jersey badge, Neath RFC blazer badge that looks to have belonged to GS = Glyn Stephens, possibly Llandovery College, ORFU - unknown badge possibly Otago from the 1950 tour.      

Ref: WRM-0946-jywacb-nea- bd8-rees.stephs -WRMR

 

One of the most influential figures in post-war Welsh rugby is Neath’s Rees Stephens. This is his journal dated November 14th 1944 to Jun 1 1946. Included in the journal are many newspaper cuttings, photos and mementos from Rees' life as a student mining engineer (his father Glyn owned mines in Resolven and Tonmawr) and rugby footballer. This period of his remarkable life includes his first match for Wales against the NZ Services XV, the Kiwis. The journal has survived a fire at 'The Dorothy Hotel' Neath which was once owned by Stephens family. (WRM-0179)

EXTRACTS FROM REES' JOURNAL

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Rees' first match in 4 years.

"Saturday Sept 22nd 1945 - Up colliery in morn & did pay books as Lloyd away early. Left about 12 o'clock as playing for Neath against Cardiff. First match I've played in for 4 years so expect I shall be out of training. Had a massage with Thomas before game. Kicked off punctually at 3.30 & we were all over them especially the forwards. I scored a try from a line out but got knocked out in crossing. Eventually after a good and fast game we lost by 11 - 9 but it should have been a draw. Saw Jackie Matthews, Trew Hart & St John Rees after the match. Feeling rather stiff. Had a good tea and off to flics with Mike and then went to bed early."

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Match Report from the Cardiff game

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Rees is approached by a Rugby League scout. 

Rugby League scouts were the scourge of Welsh Rugby from the inception of the 'Northern Union in the 1895/6 season until the game turned professional in 1995. Many a Welsh player was lured away by the promise of big bucks, Rees Stephens was no exception.

"Saturday Oct 13th 1945 - Up early and had breakfast with Doug (his brother) then took him to station to meet 9.5 train. Haydn Vernon there to see him off. Took Haydn home and then took togs to be pegged. Phoned colliery, everything OK. Left Neath for Newport by bus & arrived there about 2.30. Quite a large crowd there. Lovely pitch but very heavy. In the first few minutes they scored 2 lucky tries and this upset the whole side. Anyway after a good game of open football they won 22-11. After bathing a Leeds scout asked G Hughes and myself if we would like to "GO NORTH". I told him to "GO TO HELL". Arrived Neath about 8.15 after talking with Frankie all the way down. Saw Tom and after a walk I buzzed off home as tired."  

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First match for Wales

First match for Wales against the NZ Services XV "The Kiwis". After the war caps were not awarded until the resumption of the Five Nations in 1947. Although picked for Wales Rees was not capped at this game.

"Saturday January 5th 1946 - Up about quarter to eight. Packed bag. Had breakfast. Dad ran me down to catch the 9.5 train. Packed with people. Stood all the way up and talked with a fellow in the ???? who turned out to be Frankie Williams cousin. reached Cardiff about 11 & saw Graham Hughes. Strolled around and had a cup of tea in a cafe. met Ivor at 12 as arranged & went to have some sandwiches. Back to dressing rooms to report for forwards meeting, but couldn't do much. started changing at 1.30 and off to field at 2.30. Introduced to Premier of New Zealand Mr Peter Fraser and General Freyburg V.C. Wales kicked off. Just missed 2 pen goals in first quarter of an hour by a hairs breath. Half time 0 - 0 and we had their run but a hard game so far. Finished up 11-3 after a faulty kick by our full back , Sherratt their wing catching the ball & scoring between the posts. They then had two penalty kicks  kick on knee. Had lunch in club room & had autographs. Gave my address to C A Meates their wing. Home by 6 train. Bed early."

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match programme pasted into journal

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Ken Hardwicke 

The majority of rugby players in Wales were manual workers, heavy industry and mining were the major employers. Conditions were harsh, all men in these industries run the risk of injury or even death. Ken Hardwicke a colleague of Rees' at Neath paid the ultimate price at the colliery in which he worked.

"Friday February 15th 1946      ........................ when I got down heard some terrible news which seemed incredible. Young Ken Hardwicke our wing three-quarter had been fatally injured at a local colliery and it knocked the stuffing out of me & all the rest of the boys. Saw Harold Parker in the evening and talked over it. He is a reserve for next Saturday's game. Bed Early." 

Rees has then pasted a photo of the Neath team that faced the Kiwis into his journal.

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"Saturday February 16th 1946 - Up colliery in morning & did some homework. Down about 12 & had food & off to field where we play Llanelly. All the players felt it about young Ken & all of us had white armbands around our jersey and all stood for 2 mins on the field before the kick off. Good game to watch and all the forwards and backs played well - something like the Kiwis - slinging the ball about and playing open football - we won 25 - 9, in the last 3 games we have scored 92 pts to 12 against. Had a nasty kick on the knee - limping most of the game - should really have come off - After the game had a massage with Thomas & stayed in the rest of the evening so didn't see Tom or Frank. Had another rub with Tom about 9. Cardiff lost their record to Newport 7 - 3"

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CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE REES STEPHENS JOURNALS IN FULL

 

 

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Happy Christmas from Rees - this card was sent to journalist JBG Thomas, the illustration is by the sister of current Neath secretary and historian Mike Price. The caption "Charge of the Black Brigade" relates to an incident in a Neath v Cardiff match at the Gnoll. The match kicked off to the cries of 'charge' from the Neath forwards as they launched themselves towards the Cardiff pack. (WRM-0277)