1940 to 1941

Match Reports by Peter Hall and Colin Gale




West of England 25 Empire XV 8.

“Superlative Rugby, a huge crowd reminiscent of a Bath and Bristol game in pre-war days, and a sequence of thrills that made us forget the war for a nonce………..”

In a magnificent and memorable encounter, the West won by two goals and 4 tries to a goal and one try. The West tries were scored by Morris (2), Parsons (Bath), Hudson (2), Murphy and Lane. Thompson converted two. The Empire tries fell to Grose and Gillanders, whilst Tindill (the All Black) goaled one.

The Empire side was a combination of ‘All Blacks,’ Welsh and Irish representatives, Scottish Trial players and a smattering of England County men.



v R.A.F. XV. Home. Won 14-6. Team:- J Hodder, J Thomas, J Dodson (Wigan Old Boys), A D Lewis (Birkenhead Park), R F Hayman, Lieut. DeWolf (Hants), B Beaverstock, F J Ward (Birkbeck College), L James, P G H Curtis (Eastern Counties), W Barrow (Bath and Glos.), F L Green (Kent) (Captain), K N Banford (Moseley), K Weiss and H Davies.

Albeit in front of a moderate crowd, at least, Bath rugby got under way again, with a fine win against an R.A.F. side by a goal and 3 tries to a penalty goal and a try. Green, the Civil Service player, captained the Bath side. It was a first appearance for DeWolf, who hoped to play regularly. Bath had the upper hand for most of the opening play and Hayman was just kept out. “Directly afterwards DeWolf streaked right through the middle, leaving the defence bewildered and he gave Weiss a clear run through to the posts for the first try of the match, which the scorer himself converted. The R.A.F. fought back, thanks to nippy halves and forceful forwards, but Bath, with five points in their locker, had plenty of confidence in defence, and sufficient tackling ability to underline it.” Soon, a devastating burst by Hayman allowed Davies to pick up a loose ball and score Bath’s second try. Just before half time, the airmen narrowed the gap with a penalty.

Towards the close, Hayman scored a spectacular try, but Green failed with the kick.

“In a grand race for the ball by DeWolf, Thomas and Weiss, the latter added points to the score with another unconverted try. The R.A.F. scored a consolation unconverted try to bring proceedings to a close.



Mr. L J Corbett’s West of England XV versus Col. Lister’s Midland XV. West won by 20 points to nil. (2 dropped goals and 4 tries) There was a moving ceremony before the start, as the Wiltshire Regiment played ‘God Save the King,’ followed by a minute’s silence in memory of Frederick Green, who had died on the evening of last week’s match.

Bath Chronicle: “Bath’s own Halse (home on leave) and Hayman shared the tries. Curiously enough, the West scored 10 points in each half, and the ten points were not only made up in the same way, but the scorers were in the same order in both halves – Morris, Hayman, Halse.”

The ‘mercurial’ Morris scored two drop goals for Len Corbett’s side.

A certain Leading Aircraftsman Wooller played for the Midlands. (The brother of Wilf Wooller the Welsh captain)

L J Corbett’s XV:- V Thompson (Bristol), F B Hayman (Bath), 2nd Lieut. J H de Wolf (Hampshire, Rosslyn Park and Bath), 2nd Lieut. C Lane (Cheshire and Birkenhead Park), L G Matthews, Somerset and Bath), Sergt. R R Morris Wales and Bristol), N Halse (Somerset and Bath), K Foss Somerset and Bath), Capt. St. J Quarry (Harlequins), A T Payne (England and Bristol), W Barrow (Gloucester), Lieut. G A Reid (Bristol and Scottish Trials), Gunner Tom Mahoney (Somerset and Bristol), Flight-Lt. B Wallis (Bath and Irish Trials), P G H Curtis (Eastern Counties and Bath).


Bath’s next game was on 7th December when they just lost 5 – 6 to a very strong – R R Morris Army XV at the Memorial Ground Bristol. The Bath pack, led by Bamford played exceptionally well, with Curtis and Say particularly prominent. Unfortunately, Say knocked on with the line at his mercy with Harry Davies outside him, for what should have been a winning try. Another Wallis, ‘dribbled over try,’ was disallowed. “We was robbed – they cried!”

P.G.H.Curtis appointed Captain for the rest of the season.



Bath drew with R.A.F. Calne 6-6. (2 tries to each side). Team:- J Hodder, – Gage, P Barber, Lieut. DeWolf, R F Hayman, J Arnold, R Beaverstock, Staff-Sergt. Clark, L James, H Davies, P G H Curtis, W Barrow, J Dodson, K Bamford, A C Lewis (Birkenhead Park). Bath responded to the R.A.F.’s first half scorers, with tries by Dodson and Gage.



v 2nd Battalion London Scottish. Home. Lost 5 – 8. (a goal to a goal and a try)

Team:- J Hodder, A.C. Gaze, R. Gover (Stothert’s), F R Hayman, J. Dodson, T R Harris, R Beaverstock, B Wallis, L James, H.Davies, W. Barrow, P G H Curtis (Capt), J Say, K Bamford, A/C Lewis. The Army side was first to score, when Thomas was sent through a yawning gap. Then Hayman made the opening for Bath’s try, which enabled Gover, who was following up, to fall on the ball. Hodder added the extras. The visitors eventually secured the game, when Leslie crowned a ‘breezy’ move, for Stuart-Black to convert from a difficult position. The best of Bath’s effort came from the diminutive wing, Freddie Hayman.

Following this game, the Chronicle commented: “ If Rugby is to continue there will have to be far better support, and the quality of the play certainly justifies it. There was an outcry for resumption of Rugby. Now we have it, let the public come along.

It is true that Services sides cannot be announced till the day before, nor can units be mentioned, but the sides secured are full of first-class players whose names are normally familiar to the whole Rugby Public.”



v Royal Artillery XV. Home. Won 8-0. Team:- J Hodder, J Dodson, G Hyden, W deWolf, F Hayman, J Arnold, R Beaverstock, B Wallis, L James, N Matthews, P G H Curtis, W Barrow, H Davies, K Bamford and J Say.

Rugby continued to be of a high order and was deserving of more support. “The order is to play on during Alerts unless danger threatens, and the play so far has been of a really high standard.”

Hayman ran from almost half way to score, darting around the full back. It was one of the best tries of the season. “It was not long before Bath increased their lead. Again Hayman had a big hand in it, if not the final hand. He ran through, punted ahead, and Dodson got the touch-down near the posts, and it was an easy thing for deWolf to convert, putting Bath eight points to the good.”

“Arnold now free from injury played with real ability, and he and Beaverstock co-operated splendidly at half. They had good service from the scrum, where James certainly impressed with his hooking

It was great to see that old favourite, Norman Matthews, leading the pack. That is a job he knows from A to Z..”

There was a further appeal for more public support. Kick-offs, in future, would be at 3pm instead of 2-30 – to allow more spectators to be on the ground in time.



v R R Morris XV, on the Rec. Won 26-5. Team:- J Hodder, J Arnold, Aircraftsman Wooller, J Dodson, R F Hayman (Capt.), Capt. R W S Norfolk, Lieut. G G Thomas, Aircraftsman Lewis, K Bamford, J Say, R Beaverstock, B Wallis, L James, Cpl. Rowley and H Davies.

Thomas Wooller, brother of Welsh International Wilf, was unstoppable and scored three tries and kicked four goals for Bath. At half back, Thomas (Oxford University and Bridgend) and Norfolk (Yorkshire) could do little wrong, combining for one of Bath’s finest performances. In all, Bath scored four goals and two tries to one goal. Dodson snapped two tries and Thomas one.

“We have not seen Rugby like this for a long while.” The teams were made up almost entirely of Service personnel. Priddle scored a try for the visitors and Nicholls converted.



v Weston-s-Mare. Away. Lost 3-6. Team: J Hodder, Capt. R W Fenton (Yorkshire), Wooller, Lt. De Wolf, F Hayman, Capt. Norfolk (Yorkshire), Lieut. T G Thomas (Oxford U. and Bridgend), Flt. Lt. B Wallis, L James, W Barrow, P G H Curtis(Capt.), K Bamford, J Say, A/c Lewis, W F Francis.



v R.A.F. XV, Home. Won 27-0. (1 goal, 1 drop goal and 6 tries)Team:- J Hodder, R W Fenton, A Wooller, W DeWolf, F R Hayman, F G Thomas, R W Norfolk, B Wallis, W H Travers, W Barrow, P G H Curtis (Capt.), A Lewis, J Say, H Davies and L James.

“It was a glorious afternoon of scoring and some topping football was seen.”

“Bath’s scorers were Fenton (three tries), Lewis, Hayman, de Wolf and Barrow (a try each), Thomas (a drop goal), while de Wolf kicked a goal.” The airmen were ‘well out of the hunt’ in the second half.

Fenton’s first appearance was a great success.

“Travers, the Welsh hooker revitalised the pack by his supreme ability to get the ball back. Thomas revelled in the service and sent the ball out like a cannon ball to Norfolk. The threequarters were given tons of scope and shone repeatedly; de Wolf excelled. Despite the conditions, they thoroughly delighted the spectators with their dash, resource and handling.”

There were fond farewells to Irishman, Wallis, who was going abroad.



v Stroud, Away. Lost 3-13. Team:- J Hodder, Capt. Fenton, A/C Wooller, Capt. J De Wolf, F R Hayman, Capt. R W S Norfolk, Lieut. T G Thomas, H Davies, L James, W Barrow, P G H Curtis (Capt.), A.C.Lewis, R Beaverstock, J Say and N Matthews. One of the selected forwards dropped out and Norman Matthews stepped in at short notice.

Starved of possession, facing a much heavier pack, Bath could make little impact. “For all that some lion-hearted attempts to sore came from Norfolk, de Wolf, Fenton and Hayman. Norfolk actually did collect Bath’s only try.”


It was decided to travel in private cars starting from the Western Counties Garage in Grove Street, and herein lies a tale………………


“It was good to see Norman Matthews turning out in an emergency. In all his long rugby career he has never before travelled to a match in a brewers’ lorry, but that was what actually happened on Saturday.

One car contained seven of us developed a puncture on Nailsworth Hill, and, as time was short, we hailed the lorry and finished the journey among the barrels and empties.

It was a ceremonial arrival.

After the game there was a plentiful supply of sausage and mash. Coming back we lost our way in the darkness, but it was a pleasant trip reminiscent of the good old days.”



v Bridgwater. Home. Won 41-0. Team From – J Hodder, Capt. G Fenton, J Dodson, A Wooller, Capt. J De Wolf, F Hayman, Capt. R W S Norfolk, Lieut. T G Thomas, N W Matthews, W T Francis, W Barrow, P G H Curtis(Capt.), A/C A Lewis, A/C J Say, K Bamford, A W Stephens, L James, H Davies, R Beaverstock.

“A lot of water has gone over the city weirs since Bridgwater were last seen on the Recreation Ground. A war, however, has led to the settlement of their own private ‘war’ and a renewal of fixtures.”

Meeting Bridgwater for the first time for 16 years, Bath renewed acquaintance by crossing their line no less than 10 times – 4 in the first half and 6 in the second.

Tries as follows:- Hayman (3), de Wolf (2), Curtis, Barrow, Dodson, Fenton and Hodder. De Wolf kicked three goals and Hodder one. Hodder also landed a penalty goal. Jim Hodder scored a great try coming from the full-back position.

“It was good to note that attendances are growing, and no wonder with football like this on view.”



v Services XV. Home. Won 22-5. From – J Hodder, K Holvey, R R Morris (Wales, Swansea and Bristol), Capt. J De Wolf, F R Hayman, Capt. R W S Norfolk, Lieut. T G Thomas, L Harding, L James, H Davies, A/C A Lewis, W Barrow, P G H Curtis(Capt.), A/C J Say and K Bamford. Attendance 600.

Proceeds in favour of War Weapons Week. Bath demonstrated their superiority in all departments, scoring 2 goals and 4 tries to 1 goal. Hayman scored 3 tries, Morris 2 and Holvey 1. De Wolf and Thomas each converted one.

“Mr. Len Corbett, the former England captain, and now an esteemed member of the Bath Committee, said he was particularly pleased to see Bath with a regular list of fixtures. They were providing some relaxation for civilian spectators from the pressure of war and other work.”



v Stroud. Home. Won 3-0. Team from:- J Hodder, Capt. G Fenton, K Holvey, J Dodson, Capt. J De Wolf, F R Hayman, Capt. R W S Norfolk, Lieut. T G Thomas, L Harding (Old Sulians), L James, H Davies, P G H Curtis (Capt.), W Barrow, I Williams, A/C J Say, K Bamford, A/C A Lewis, R Beaverstock. Bath got their revenge with a solitary try by de Wolf, in dry, sunny conditions on the Rec.

“I picked out Thomas as the star man. He was always where the fray was fast and furious.”

REFEREE SCORES A TRY —– Seven-a-side game at Bath

“In the absence of a rugby match at the Recreation Ground on Saturday, a game was played for the benefit (and I hope amusement) of the Spectators who turned up. It was a seven-a-side composed of Bath players, plus Victor Smith (the Secretary) and Bert Anderson of the Committee, Vic was in the pack on one side, Bert at fly half in the other. If you see two men hobbling about through sheer stiffness, then you know who they are.

The first half was serious, in dead earnest. The second was brightened with a little by play.

The tour de force was when Jack Jones the referee, and former Bath and Somerset forward, scored. Hayman had cross-kicked when Jack caught the ball and dived over. No one knows the score, not even the Secretary, except that his side won.

It was just good fun.” (BATH CHRONICLE 3/3/1941)



v Weston-super-Mare. Away. Won 23-3. Selected Team:- J Hodder, K Holvey, J Dodson, G W Fenton, F R Hayman, T G Thomas, R W S Norfolk, L James, L James, H Davies, K Bamford, P G H Curtis, R St. J Quarry (Harlequins), A D Lewis and Raffin.

Bath repaid Weston’s hospitality by crossing their line seven times and converting one of the tries. The Seasiders replied with a solitary penalty. Thomas and Norfolk had developed into an outstanding partnership, and it was comparatively easy to build a team around such outstanding players. Fenton was fast and near unstoppable. Say had departed and his successor, Raffin ran straight and true. Hayman, was not yet of military age, but was already something of a human dynamo. James was hooking well and the pack had lately been joined by Quarry of Quins, who had scored in this, his first game. Four of the tries were scored by forwards, viz. Harding, Quarry, Lewis and Davies. Other tries from Fenton, Hayman and Thomas, and Thomas succeeded with one conversion.



v R.A..F. XV. Home. Won 9-3. Team:- J Hodder, K Holvey, G W Fenton, J de Wolf, F R Hayman, T G Thomas, R W S Norfolk, L Harding, L James, H Davies, K Bamford, P G H Curtis (Capt.),W Barrow, J Dodson, and C H Woodward (Bristol). Bath scored three tries to the R.A.F. XV’s one, in front of 700 spectators. They had previously beaten Weston-s-Mare, and the Somerset Police. It was an astonishing start, as the Service side secured their try in the opening seconds. The visitors included Hunter, a Scottish Trials player and interestingly, Hickman, a centre, previously with Swinton and an England International Rugby League player. Indeed, it was Hunter who got their early try. In a hard and strenuous tussle, Fenton ran the length of the field for a second half try. Next, Hayman’s speed enabled him to beat all opposition and touch down. Finally, Harding got over for a try following a forward foray.



v R.A.F.Yatesbury. Home. Won 8-0. Team:- J Hodder, K Hobrey, G Fenton, J de Wolf, F R Hayman, R W S Norfolk, T G Thomas, H Davies, L James, L Harding, P G H Curtis (Capt.), K Bamford, J Dodson, W Barrow, C H Woodward. Bath won by a goal and a try, but it was hard going throughout. There was far too much kicking, although Bath produced what open play there was.

Both Hodder and Norfolk sustained concussion injuries.

“Norfolk did not go off, but it was clear that he did not know where he was for a time. Once he went and pushed in the back row of the scrum!”

Hayman and Fenton scored a try in each half, and de Wolf converted from the second try.



v Weston-s-Mare. Home. Drawn 0-0. Team:- J Hodder, G Fenton, K Holvey, J de Wolf, F R Hayman, R W S Norfolk, T G Thomas, H Davies, L James, L Harding, P G H Curtis (Capt.), W Barrow, C H Woodward, K Bamford, J Dodson. Referee: Len Corbett. (Bristol and England)

“Bath used the touch-line cleverly, particularly Hayman, Thomas and Hodder.

A lovely cut through by Norfolk followed, and de Wolf carried on speedily, but when a score seemed possible a forward pass, spoilt the opportunity.

Good work by Bamford, who still had a black eye and a damaged nose as a result of a collision in the black-out, put Bath backs into action again, but they could not elude the sterling defence which Weston men presented.” It was a hard gruelling game, Bath looked more convincing, but it was not much of a spectacle for the 600 folk in attendance.



v Bridgwater. Away. Won 22-3. Team:- J Hodder, Capt. G Fenton, J Dodson, K Holvey, F R Hayman, J de Wolf, J Parsons, W Barrow, G Loader, C F R Woodward, P G H Curtis (Capt.), K Bamford, H Davies, L James and L Harding.

Jim Hodder repeated his performance in the home game with the ‘Brick Town,’ by running in another try from his full-back position. The final tally was 2 goals and 4 tries to one penalty goal. Hayman scored practically from the kick-off and Bath never really looked back. Collier responded with a penalty goal, but tries flowed from Parsons, Bamford, Holvey, Hayman again, and finally, with Hodder’s long run in. Curtis converted two of the tries.



v Army XV. Home. Lost 11-22. Team:- J Hodder, K Holvey, J Dodson, J de Wolf, F R Hayman, T R Harris, R W S Norfolk, L Harding, L James, H Davies, K Bamford, J Wass, C H Woodward, W Burrow and W Raffin. Roy Harris arrived home on leave and was immediately invited to turn out for his home side. Norfolk moved to scrum-half to accommodate him. The opposition were mainly Yorkshire bred, and displayed their sturdy and solid qualities. They proved to be formidable in the loose and boasted backs of above average ability. The Army side opened with a converted try and just before half time, Mather added a penalty goal. de Wolf skippered the home side and put in a great tackle to stop one ‘hot’ rush. Bath came back strongly, but even Harris found it difficult to penetrate the close marking. Norfolk eventually got through on the blindside and de Wolf supplied the extra points. “The Army were quickly on the war path once more, scoring almost from the resumption through Mather, but he was unable to convert.” Bath were again in trouble at the start of the second half, the unconverted try scorers being Rimmer and Glover.

“In a rally by Bath, grand exchanges by Norfolk, Harris and de Wolf produced a typical Hayman try. The kick, however, failed.”



v Army XV. Home. Won 13-11. Team:- Hodder, Holvey, Dodson, de Wolf, Hayman, Knight, Beaverstock, Barrow, Woodward, Pidgeon, Britton, Harding, Brooks, Davies and Bush.

Bath had great difficulty in raising a side, and were glad to annex four of Saturday’s Army visitors, including their very capable fly-half, Knight. Davies turned out despite a badly injured, probably broken, nose. The visitors were a big and ‘likely looking lot,’ and in less than 10 minutes Cooke scored their first try. Then Bath gradually asserted themselves and de Wolf engineered a perfect opening for Hayman, who sent three would-be tacklers in the wrong direction.

de Wolf kept his direction with a successful conversion kick.

Holvey scored early in the second half and de Wolf improved the tally. Next de Wolf was away to give an inside pass to Knight, accepted a return pass and scored an outstanding try. The Army re-deployed and Badman wound up a good effort with an unconverted try. In an exciting finish, Badman again went over for the Army and W Jones converted.



A Home Guard side brimming with Bath players beat a local Army XV. Stalwart Norman Matthews crashed over for a try which Giles converted. Waite and Parfitt put in good tackles and full-back Dolman kicked well and saved the pack much running about.


Another Home Guard Team selection versus a local R.A.F. side: H G Dolman, M Richards, W Parfitt, W Hornett, A Bentley-Hunt, J A Giles, M Spark, N Matthews, W G Denning, J Goddard, K Parfitt, R Millard, V Skidmore, W Godley, J Ruddle, and J Taylor.




This page was added on 27/05/2014.

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