Gwyn Nicholls

Gwyn Nicholls

Gwyn Nicholls
Full name Erith Gwyn Nicholls
Date of birth (1874-07-15)15 July 1874
Place of birth Westbury-on-Severn, England
Date of death 24 March 1939(1939-03-24) (aged 64)
Place of death Dinas Powys, Wales
School Howard Gardens
Notable relative(s) Bert Winfield, brother in law
Sydney Nicholls, brother
Jack Nicholls, nephew
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Centre
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Cardiff Star
Cardiff Harlequins RFC
Cardiff RFC
Newport RFC
Cardiff RFC
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
British Isles

Erith Gwyn Nicholls (15 July 1874 – 24 March 1939)[2] was a Welsh rugby union player who gained 24 caps for Wales as a centre. Nicholls was known as the "Prince of Threequarters".[3]

Born in Westbury-on-Severn, Nicholls started his rugby career with Cardiff Star[4] before playing in the Cardiff first team from 1893. He spent all his playing career with Cardiff, playing 18 seasons for them, apart from half a season with Newport in 1901/2 when he began a laundry business there with fellow Welsh international Bert Winfield.[3] He captained Cardiff for four seasons; 1898/9 through to 1900/1 and again in 1903/04.


  • International career 1
    • International matches played for Wales 1.1
    • Post playing career 1.2
  • Later life and death 2
  • External links 3
  • Bibliography 4
  • References 5

International career

1905 Wales squad, Nicholls, captain, middle row, centre with ball

Nicholls gained his first international cap against Scotland on 25 January 1896, a solid if not spectacular debut.[5] His next few games gained him praise and Nicholls began to get more notice from the local press,[6] Nicholls international career was placed on pause for twelve months during 1897 and 1898 while Wales were excluded from playing because of the Gould Affair.[7]

His 24 caps for Wales were won between 1896 and 1906 and included ten matches as captain. He was captain of the Triple Crown winning side of 1902. Despite announcing his retirement from international rugby at the end of the previous season, he returned to captain Wales in the famous 1905 victory against New Zealand. He toured Australia with the British Isles team of 1899, and was the only Welsh player on this tour.

International matches played for Wales


Post playing career

In 1909 Nicholls was chosen to officiate the match between England and Scotland at the Richmond Athletic Ground, as part of the Home Nations Championship. It was the only international match that Nicholls refereed and the last to be played at Richmond.

Later life and death

In 1923, Nicholls while on holiday in Weston-super-Mare was involved in a rescue attempt involving two young girls.[9] The two girls had been swept out to sea by the undertow and a doctor, Edward Holborow, had leapt into the sea to save them. Although the two girls were saved by another swimmer, Dr Holborow found the rough conditions too challenging, and Nicholls attempted to rescue him. Nicholls reached the doctor and got him close to the shore but Holborow was pronounced dead at the scene. Nicholls only managed to reach shore himself and his health never recovered from the ordeal.[10] On 24 March 1939, Nicholls died in Dinas Powys. Heart failure was given as the cause of death.[11]

On Boxing Day 1949 the "Gwyn Nicholls Memorial Gates" were officially opened at Cardiff Arms Park by his team mate Rhys Gabe. On 16 November 2005 Gwyn Nicholls was inducted into the International Rugby Hall of Fame.

External links

  • "Gwyn Nicholls". Archived from the original on 2012-12-08. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  • Williams, Moelwyn. "NICHOLLS, ERITH GWYN". Welsh Biography Online. Retrieved 2007-08-20. 
  • "Gwyn Nicholls". Retrieved 2007-08-20. 


  • Parry-Jones, David (1999). Prince Gwyn, Gwyn Nicholls and the First Golden Era of Welsh Rugby. Bridgend: seren.  
  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.  
  • Thomas, Wayne (1979). A Century of Welsh Rugby Players. Ansells Ltd. 


  1. ^ Welsh Rugby Union player profiles
  2. ^ Newport RFC player profiles
  3. ^ a b Smith (1980), pg 128.
  4. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 26.
  5. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 36.
  6. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 36-37.
  7. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 37.
  8. ^ Smith (1980), pg 469.
  9. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 202.
  10. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 203.
  11. ^ Parry-Jones (1999), pg 209.
Rugby Union Captain
Preceded by
Selwyn Biggs
Cardiff RFC Captain
Succeeded by
Bert Winfield
Preceded by
Bert Winfield
Cardiff RFC Captain
Succeeded by
Cecil Biggs