Bill Gwynn played twice for Glamorgan during 1890 but the talented sportsman met with more fame, albeit very briefly, on the rugby field for Wales, and became the first paid Secretary of the Welsh Rugby Union before suffering heart and mental problems and dying in the Bridgend Asylum at the age of 40.
Born in Swansea and raised in London, the young schoolmaster played cricket, football and rugby in the Home Counties before moving back to his home town during the late 1870s having secured a post at Swansea Parochial School (later National School). Bill duly became a shining light in the sporting activities with Swansea Workingmen’s Club which had been created during the 1870s by Rev GH Vance, Minister of the Swansea Unitarian Church and supported by Pascoe St Leger Grenfell, a prominent businessman and kindly benefactor towards sporting activities who lived in Kilvey.
Bill’s batting and cunning off-spin saw the Workingmen’s Club secure a series of victories against a number of high-profile and well-established cricket clubs. He switched allegiance to the Swansea club during the early 1880s, with his finest hour in their ranks coming in 1883 as the club won the South Wales Challenge Cup, with Bill’s bowling played a key role in the victory over Cardiff.
In all, Bill played 122 times for Swansea RFC, between 1876/77 and 1887/88. The halcyon years of his sporting career were in 1884/85 and 1885/86 when he captained the Swansea rugby club. During this time as a half-back, he became known as the first and most able advocate of the passing game. These skills led to five appearances for the Welsh side in the Home Nations Championships during 1884 and 1885 – in the match against Scotland in the former season, he nearly got his name on the scoresheet, but selflessly looked for support rather than touch the ball down having crossed the tryline.
GWYNN, William Henry.
Born – Swansea, 27 March 1856.
Died – Bridgend, 1 April 1897.
Batting and Fielding Record
In Minor County Friendlies: 27 and 2/24 v MCC at St. Helen’s, Swansea, 1890.