top of page

Rhiwbina author's book tells of rugby's first superstar

Updated: May 23

The latest book from Rhiwbina author Gwyn Prescott tells the story of rugby's first star player - a true celebrtity of Victorian Britain (and beyond).

Before the inexorable rise of soccer, the Rugby School code was the dominant form of football in Britain, and Arthur Gould was to football what W. G. Grace was to cricket.

His story is told in Arthur Gould - Rugby's First Superstar, published by North Cardiff publisher St David's Press.

Rhiwbina author Gwyn Prescott

"Acclaimed in poetry, song and music hall routines, his fame spread well beyond the rugby world, with the extensive press coverage generated by the 'Gould Affair', when he was controversially presented with the deeds of a house by his adoring public [an incident which threatened his amateur status]," Gwyn explained.

"Such was his renown that, on his early tragic death when aged only 54, it was reported that his funeral was the largest ever seen in Wales. 

"When he retired from international rugby in 1897, no-one had played in more international matches. Arthur Gould represented Wales 27 times over 13 seasons, the equivalent today of winning perhaps as many as 130 caps.

"Tactically astute, he captained Wales 18 times, a record which stood for 97 years. He was skipper in the first Welsh victories over Scotland (1888) and England (1890) and led Wales to their first Triple Crown in 1892.

"One of six brothers to play for Newport, Arthur remarkably represented the club over 17 seasons. This included one of the greatest periods in Newport’s history, when they were acknowledged as the best football team – rugby or soccer – in Britain. When he eventually retired, it was claimed that he had scored more tries and dropped more goals than anyone else up to that time".

So, how did Gwyn come to write the book? "I was initially approached, on behalf of the extended Gould family, by Arthur’s great-great nephew, Gareth Harvey, about writing the book. Gareth, incidentally, was brought up in Rhiwbina and attended Rhiwbina School. His mother Pam Harvey is a long-time resident of the village, as are Gareth’s brothers Colin and Ian."

There's another local connection too - the book was proofread by our own Andy Weltch of Weltch Media.

"Taking on Arthur’s life story was an extremely daunting challenge," Gwyn reflected. "Remarkably, despite his fame, no-one had previously attempted a biography. However, from my previous research into early Welsh rugby history, I was fully aware of Arthur Gould’s status, and I felt his story needed to be told to a modern audience."

180 views0 comments


bottom of page