2:20pm Thursday 24th October 2013
TWO Newport players are to be posthumously awarded Wales caps at the national team’s autumn international match with Tonga next month, writes Iwan Gabe Davies.
Ex-Black and Ambers captain and prop Jack Bale and wing Billy Williams represented their country in a post Second World War ‘Victory’ international against France to celebrate the Allies’ triumph.
Wales lost the unofficial international match 12-0 which was played at Paris’ Stade de Colombes in April 1946.
Royal Marines commando Mr Bale led a colourful life and his wartime adventures are worthy of the Great Escape fame.
After being taken captive while fighting in North Africa, he broke out of his prisoner-of-war camp in Southern Italy and, aided by partisans, fled to neutral Switzerland where he remained until end of war.
He was club captain in the 1946/7 season and also played also for Pill Harriers and Newport Police, rising to the rank of detective sergeant before he became a coroner’s officer.
The brother of Alf Bale, who played for the Black and Ambers in the thirties, Mr Bale died in Newport in October 1986 at the age of 69.
Cwmtillery-born Mr Williams was a mathematics and physical education teacher who turned professional to play for the Swinton rugby league side.
He made 41 appearances for Newport, scoring 25 tries and he died at the age of 82 in December 2007.
The Welsh Rugby Union are styling the honour as a President's Cap to avoid the confusion that would arise should they be classed as regular caps, with each Wales player down the years awarded a cap number.
Those covered by the gesture are players who never gained full international status despite playing for Wales.
As many as 25 former rugby players, including ex-Wales coach Gareth Jenkins, are to belatedly receive their international caps.
The games covered by the President's Cap include tour matches played against
Argentina in 1968 and Japan in 1975 as well as home matches against Tonga in 1974 and Romania in 1979.
Two former Newport players played against the Pumas in the late sixties in outside half Bob Phillips and wing Andy Morgan who were playing for London Welsh at the time and tour party teammate, Ebbw Vale scrum half Glyn Turner is also to be honoured.
© Copyright 2001-2013 Newsquest Media Group