Viv Jenkins was one of the true all-round sporting gentlemen of the 1930s. Besides batting, bowling and keeping wicket for Glamorgan, Jenkins won a Double Blue at Oxford, played club rugby for Cardiff, Bridgend, London Welsh, Dover, Kent and the Barbarians, won 14 Welsh rugby caps as full back between 1932 and 1938, and toured South Africa as the vice-captain of the British Lions party in 1938.
The former Llandovery schoolboy made his county debut for Glamorgan in 1931 whilst an undergraduate at Oxford, and at a time when regular gloveman Trevor Every was injured. In his second appearance for Glamorgan, against Worcestershire at Pontypridd, Viv completed three sharp stumpings as the visiting batsmen struggled against the clever spin of Johnnie Clay and Frank Ryan. Later that summer Viv also played a match-winning innings in the rain-affected match with Surrey at Cardiff as Glamorgan successfully chased 215 runs to win in just 165 minutes. With the Arms Park scoreboard on 146-6, a Surrey victory looked a formality, but Viv – showing no sign of nerves against his far more experienced opponents – played a series of forcing strokes to see his team home by three wickets with just minutes to spare.
Viv also won fourteen rugby caps for Wales, all at full-back, and featured, alongside Maurice Turnbull, Wilf Wooller and Ronnie Boon in Wales’s first-ever victory over England at Twickenham in 1933, and was also in the Welsh XV which secured the famous triumph over the All Blacks in 1935 at Cardiff. After coming down, he went into teaching in Kent. He subsequently played for Glamorgan during his school holidays, and his all-round ball skills and athletic fielding must have made captain Maurice Turnbull wish that Viv was available on a more regular basis.
After the Second World War, Viv became a leading sports journalist with the News of the World, as well as serving as rugby correspondent of The Sunday Times. He also edited for many years the Rothman’s Rugby Union Yearbook.
JENKINS, Vivian Gordon James
Born – Port Talbot, 2nd November 1911.
Died – Harpenden, 5th January 2004.
Best performances for Glamorgan:
In first-class cricket – 65 and 1/13 v Surrey at The Oval, 1932.