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Richard Mullock


 

Richard Mullock  is thought of by many as the founder of Welsh rugby. He organised the first Welsh rugby side that played England on 19th February 1881 and was instrumental in the creation of the Welsh Football Union, which became the Welsh Rugby Union in 1934.

He was born on 3rd May 1851 in Newport , Wales , the son of Henry Mullock and Henrietta Oliver. The family owned a printing company based on Commercial Street in Newport and published the local paper, The Newport Advertiser. Mullock married Emily (née Phillips), in March 1874 and had six children.

He had a history of connections with sports clubs around Newport and in 1874 became the secretary of the Newport Athletic Club. In 1879 the South Wales Football Club, which represented the interests of Welsh rugby union, attempted to organise a group of matches between a South Wales team and clubs representing Blackheath F.C., West of Scotland F.C., Oxford University and the South of Ireland. Mullock, wishing to improve the profile of his Newport club, secured a match against Blackheath before the S.W.F.C. could finalise any arrangements, stealing their fixture. Oxford University and West of Scotland lost interest in a match with either organisation, while a team from South of Ireland played a match against Newport on 18 November 1879, a day before the match with the S.W.F.U. By 1880 the S.W.F.U. was losing face as a governing body, with teams pulling out of matches after embarrassing fixture clashes and a lack of firm commitments

 

 

The first international played by Wales was a disaster. After bad weather had called of all the trials and attempts to stage the match the RFU insisted that the match be played on the 19th February 1881, the day Swansea played Llanelly in the South Wales Cup semi-final, thus depriving Wales of several players.

Only 800 spectators attended the match huddled 3 deep around a field that wasn’t roped off. The Welsh side were two players short and persuaded two spectators to play. The team was moved around to accommodate them. Lewis, a half-back, and Mann, a forward, were injured after ten minutes and eventually had to go off. As there were no substitutes allowed at the time and Wales had to play with 13 men. When full-time was called Wales had lost by eight goals and five tries to nothing, 81-0 in modern day terms.

The Welsh Rugby Football Union was formed on 12th March 1881 at the Castle Hotel, Neath.

Above the Western Mail 15th March 1881

In the WRU's early years Mullock had met some of its expenses from his own pocket, by 1890 he was rumoured to be guilty of financial impropriety, and the following year he was forced to relinquish the treasurership. He remained as honorary secretary, but only for one more year: at the WRU's annual general meeting on 10 September 1892 he was awarded a testimonial of 100 guineas and the decision was taken to appoint a paid secretary.  So he was forced to retire, with Welsh rugby on the verge of international success, about to win its first Triple Crown.

In April 1893 he was declared a bankrupt but continued the family printing business. In 1902, Mullock was sued in court for £3 of goods. He pleaded that the £1 a month he earned from selling drawings was insufficient to support his wife, and their six children. He left the Newport area and disappeared from public view. Rumour had it he had emigrated that year to Africa .

Richard Mullock died in St Thomas 's Hospital, London , on 8th July 1920, after an operation for throat cancer. By then he was living and working as a printer's clerk in Chiswick, in an elusive obscurity

 

email: patrick.casey@cliftonrfchistory.co.uk

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© Patrick Casey, 2010
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