1884 to 1885

Match Reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale

There appears to have been no regular reporter at these early games. Consequently, there are reporting gaps.

As with Junior Rugby, it was up to the team officials to send in their results and match reports in time for the print deadline. The Bath Argus and Bath Daily Chronicle contained frequent reminders to this effect.




20 matches played, eight won, ten lost and two drawn.



v Somerset College, Home. Won. The Team:- L O’Donoghue (back), H Foord, F Glass, J Ferris (three-quarter backs), A Farewell, A C Green (half-backs), M R Woodham, C A Knight, H M Loy, F Hill, A Hill, F Soane, Patson, W Mead and W Wiltshire. The College team were greatly affected by injuries.

“Mr. Morgan gained one of the tries for the College and Leahy the other, having run the length of the ground. For the Club Knight made two tries and Green one.”



v Arabs, Home. Bath lost by 2 goals and one touch-in-goal to 1 try and 2 touches.

Team:- L O’Donoghue, M B Comber, H T Foord, A Armitage, J C Helps, A Farewell, T Vachell, K Vachell, W M Loy, F Glass, A K Cunninghame, J Stringfield, C A Knight, A and F Hill.

The Arabs conquered the heavier Bath forwards, and did very well to return home victorious. After trailing for most of the match, Bath reduced the arrears with a try by T Vatchell. Both the Vatchell brothers played well, but the Arabs forward play: “could not be bettered.”


Sparse reporting made the chronicling of Bath Club events a difficult task. There is certainly evidence that several well known players were engaged in inter College fixtures around this time. The Bath Herald reported on the 25th November 1884 on:-

Competitive F C v Hermitage F C

Competetive College:- W F Pinch, Chatterton, Humphries, Pollock, Watkins, Codrington, Mitchell, Morgan, Coultard, Parham, King, Waller and Hobbs.

Hermitage School:- H Vincent, A St. John, G Humphrey, D Prothero, Robinson, Lander, A Helps, C Ford, J Humphrey, J Strachan, J Hare, R Prothero, R Slatter, B Helps and P Alexander.



v Somerset College, Home.



v Gloucester, at Lambridge. Lost by 3 goals to nil, despite Gloucester being one man short. Bath team:- O’Donoghue, Foord, Trask, Helps, Crowden, Sants, China, Farewell, Stringfield, A Ford, Vachell, Soane, Knight, A and F Hill.

Bath had an early try attempt disallowed. There was little to chose between the forwards, but the Gloucester backs displayed superior handling skills. They took better advantage of any chances presented in loose play.

Trask, Helps, Sants, China, Soane, Knight and Stringfield were the pick of the Bath outfit.



v Fishponds, Away.



v Cirencester RAC, Away.



v Bath United Banks, Away.



v Wells, Home.



v Frome, at Lambridge. Won by 6 goals and 2 tries to nil.

“A match was played between these clubs on Saturday at Lambridge and resulted, after a pleasant but rather one-sided game, in a victory for Bath by six goals and three tries to nothing.

The leather was set in motion by A K Cunninghame, the Bath captain, shortly after the appointed time, and within the first ten minutes the first try was obtained for Bath by J E Trask. The place-kick by O’Donoghue was successful. After this eight more tries were gained at regular intervals by Swabey, Leahy (2), Walker (2), and C W Trask (2), the first of the two gained by the latter player being due to a splendid run nearly the entire length of the ground. O’Donoghue’s kicking was wonderfully good throughout. Tries were also obtained by Digby and Soane, but disallowed by the umpires. Frome, it is but fair to state, played one man short, though an unfortunate mishap to the Bath captain somewhat equalized matters in the second part of the game.

The home side consisted of O’Donoghue, back; Swabey, J E Trask, C W Trask, W A Walker, three-quarter backs; Leahy and G C Helps, half-backs; A K Cunninghame, capt., H Digby, F Soane, C Knight, N Parham, A Parham, Farewell and Chandler, forwards.”



v Volunteers, at Lambridge. Won by a goal and 3 tries to nil. Team:- L O’Donoghue, W T Vincent, J E Trask, C W Trask, W A Walker, G C Helps, B Secreton, S Swabey, H Digby, K Vachell, F Soane, H Loy, C Loy, L Chandler and A Maberley.

“The field was lined with spectators, and party feeling ran high, so much so indeed that their enthusiasm and anxiety for success of their respective sides, partisans ignored the prescribed boundaries and somewhat interfered with the game.” From beginning to end it was hotly and evenly contested. “Secreton obtained a try for Bath, but as some doubt existed as to its fairness the kick at goal was only permitted by the courtesy of the Volunteers. After half-time the advantage rested with the Bath Club, and tries were obtained by Secreton, Digby, Vincent and Soane. Only one goal however resulted, being kicked by Vincent for the last try. Victory therefore declared itself in favour of Bath by a goal and three tries to nil. Darkness had all but set in at the call of time.”



v Weston-super-Mare, Away. Lost by 1 goal and 5 touches to nil.

Team:- S Swabey (back), J E Trask, C W Trask and A L Porter (three-quarters), G C Helps (Captain), and Secreton (half-backs), F Soane, C A Knight, K Vachell, T Vachell, J Stringfield, Winkworth, L Chandler, N Parham and A Parham (forwards). Referee J W Helps.

“The ground was in splendid condition, and a large number of spectators assembled to witness what sort of fight the home team would make in the absence of five of their ‘cracks.’ For Bath the Trasks, Porter, G Helps and the Vachells were most conspicuous.” Patterson secured Weston’s try, which Warner majored. The home club maintained their unbeaten record. Both clubs were unable to field fully representative sides.



v Bath College Past and Present, Home.



v Wells, Away.



v Weston-Super-Mare, Home.



v Frome, Away.



v Bath United Banks, Home.



v Gloucester, Away.



v Widcombe Institute, Home (Lambridge Meadows). Won by a goal, 3 tries and 3 minor points to one minor point.

Bath, who played one man short, were represented by:- L O’Donoghue (captain), J Crowden, F China, J Mould, T Vatchell, N Parham, H M Loy, J Winckworth, F Lavis, W M Watson, F Hill, C Green, A Parham and G King.

“Widcombe started the game at 3-30, and for some time it was evenly contested. Neither side gaining any material advantage until a judicious piece of passing by the Bath men enabled Crowden, by a smart run, to obtain a try. The place kick, however, was a failure. Soon after this N Parham displayed great activity in backing up Ley and gained a second try for Bath, from which a goal was kicked by O’Donoghue. After half-time the Bath men had a decided advantage and somewhat penned their opponents, who, however, played a plucky defensive game, and thereby only allowed two more tries, for both of which Loy was responsible, to be gained against them. Crowden also ran in but his try was disallowed, the Bath umpire deciding that he went into touch in goal.”



v Bristol Arabs on Durdham Downs. Lost by 3 goals, 2 tries and 2 touches to 2 touches.

Bath: L R O’Donoghue, Foord, Trask, Grace *, F Hill, T Vatchell, H Hill, Green, Mould, Parham, King, Knight, Soane, Butt and Taylor. * Possibly the son of W G Grace.

The Arabs had played eleven matches that season, winning eight and losing three.

“The Arabs, winning the toss, elected to play down the hill, the ball being started by the visitors. The forwards soon set to work on both sides, and some good scrummaging took place, each club trying their utmost to gain ground, but neither succeeding until Bath let the ball out behind to one of their three-quarter backs; but before he could get away he was collared by Campbell; this gave the Arabs some yards. The home team then tried loose scrummaging, and by some fast play on the part of their forwards compelled the visitors to touch down. After the ball was restarted, the loose scrummaging, having proved successful, was again tried, and the leather forced over the Bath lines, compelling them for a second time to touch down. The visitors then sent the ball rolling, and their forwards well following it up, started a scrum in the centre of the field, but it was let out behind by the Arabs, and being passed to Burgess, he ran in, but the try was not improved upon; the same player got in twice besides in the first half, one of the tries being converted into a goal by Norton. During the second half of the game the Arabs had to play up the hill, and the Bath men tried the same tactics as their opponents, rushing the ball down the ground, and seemed determined if possible to equalize matters, Grace and Trask continually emerging through, but Campbell, Winter, and Mitchell did not allow them to get far enough to score, although they got the leather unpleasantly near the goal line of the home team. Here Norton and Bennett, by some pretty passing, managed to get the ball out to Burgess, who made a splendid run from one end of the field to the other, placing the ball behind the post, and Norton kicked a goal from the try. When play restarted Bath again got the ball into the Arab’s territory, but Bennett by a good run through the whole of the visitors got another try, from which Norton again scored, leaving the home team victory by three goals, two tries, and two touched to two touches.

For the visitors, Trask, Grace, and O’Donoghue, backs, and Taylor, Knight and King played up well, as did Bennett, Norton, Burgess, Campbell, Winter and Mitchell for the Arabs.”



v Batheaston, Home.



v Bristol Medicals, Home.



v Volunteers. At Lambridge. Won by a try and a touch down to a disputed try and 4 Touches,

Bath team: L R O’Donoghue, A Armitage, H T Foord, J Crowden, F Blanchard, T Blanchard, G C Helps (Capt.), F Soane, C A Knight, W M Watson, A Hill, F Hill, A C Green, G King, A N Farewell.

“Considerable interest was excited on the occasion, as the rival clubs had already played two matches, and each had scored one victory, therefore the question of supremacy remained to be decided in this contest.”

In a very fast and even game Frank Soane scored Bath’s try

Here we notice the Blanchard brothers. Junior rugby acted as a feeder to the senior club, although in those days, the gap in playing standards was narrow, and local clubs still featured on the Bath Club’s fixture list.



v Westbury Park, Home.



v Widcombe Institute, Away.



v Clifton. This was a return match played on Lambridge Meadows. Lost by 2 tries and 5 touches to nil.

Bath: L R O’Donoghue, A Armitage, H Foord, J B Mansell, G Helps (Captain), F China, F Soane, A Hill, F Hill, T Vachell, T Green, A C Green, G King, A Parham and H G Lavis. Clifton won comfortably playing two men short! The Clifton tackling was ‘deadly.’

“The forwards of the victorious team had not shown such good combined play this season. The orders were to keep the ball loose, and the dribbling and passing were too much for their opponents. Leonard rushed across the home goal line after about 15 minutes’ play, but the ball, being only scantilly supplied with air escaped from the three or four who were mauling, and Hurst touched it down. This was ruled against the visitors, but almost immediately Hurst passed to Rose, who secured a try, and after half-time he added another to the score from a dribble; he also nearly placed a difficult goal from a free kick near the touch line. Evans and Rose behind were invaluable, their tackling being most deadly, and nearly all the Clifton forwards are deserving of unqualified praise. For the home team Helps played most pluckily, and was aided by Mansell and China; but they were not much assisted by their forwards.”



v Fishponds, Home.


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