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News > Archives & History > Bishops 1st XV 100 Years ago

Bishops 1st XV 100 Years ago

From the Archives 100 years ago.

Bishops U XIX, 1919.
Bishops U XIX, 1919.


OD Rugby Club
Ahead of the forthcoming weekend's sport fixtures between two of the country's oldest schools Bishops and SAC/S, the archivist delved into the records to see what was happening 100 years ago.  The enclosed photograph (top of this article) is of the Bishops Under XIX Team from 1919.  Sadly, there were not that many fixtures played for that year which even more sadly meant that Bishops never played SACS in 1919.  In 1920 it played SACS only at U17 level, losing the match 0-11; in 1921, Bishops and SACS 'A' drew 12 all, whilst Bishops beat SACS 'B' 20-0; and in 1922, Bishops and SACS drew 8-8. 

However, one of the highlights for Bishops in 1919, was winning the Harris Cup (named after M. Harris, the Jewellers in Cape Town), against Wellington, 8-5.  Some of the other fixtures for that year included Hamiltons (result unknown), Stellenbosch B, (result unknown) and UCT (result unknown).  There are some more interesting details coming from the year 1919.  According to South African rugby historian Paul Dobson, Bishops did not field an U17 team in that year, an unpopular move and one that caused the first team to perform badly.  Dobson explains that 'in the backlash of 1920 there was no Under 19 team, only an Under 17, and the five players over 17 went off to play for Villagers'.  Dobson continues: 'In fact it was generally felt that sport at Bishops had slipped and that the school was not doing justice to the number of boys at the College (250).  Day boys were urged to give greater participation.  But the war  had taken so much from Bishops - pupils, old boys, staff, the principal, and finance'. (Paul Dobson's 'Bishops Rugby: A History', Don Nelson, 1990. p.53). 

That same year, 1919, one hundred years ago almost to the day, was the year of the tragic death of Bishops' sixth Principal, The Reverend Canon William Owen Jenkins, M.A., D.D.  He died on 19 July, as a result 'of a complete breakdown of the nervous system, consequent upon two attacks of influenza' (The Diocesan College Magazine, Vol. XIII, No. 31, June 1919, p. 10).  It continues to say,  ' ... all who knew his strong and virile nature will realise with sorrow what sufferings he must have gone through before his death'.  From this one must understand that during the tenure of Canon Jenkins, he was receiving the distressing news of the deaths of soldiers fighting in the First World War, who only a few years before, had been his New Boys at school.   
The enclosed photograph of an oil painting of Canon Jenkins was donated by the Dicey family.  Marian Dicey made the presentation on behalf of the family to the Museum, in 2006.  The painting was bequethed to Bishops from the Estate of the Late Owen Gerald Leicester Dicey, who was the grandson of Canon Jenkins.  Jenkins' work at Bishops was ground-breaking.  He established the school at Bishops when it came from Feldhausen; the Diocesan College Rhodes scholarship was established under his tenure; he was the Officer Commanding of the Cadet Detachment; he was the Editor of the College Magazine; he visited OD branches all over South Africa and in Southern Africa; he was appointed Canon of St George's Cathedral and in 1907 took a Doctor of Divinity Degree (D.D.) at Oxford.  In 1911 the school opened without university classes, and thus Bishops became the school that it is today under his Principalship (prior to that it had University classes).  Compulsory sport was introduced under him.  But it was the time when the Great War broke out and as already explained this took a massive toll on him.  During Jenkin's tenure Canon Ogilvie died, and his wife Mrs Jenkins sadly died at the College after a long and painful illness in 1915.  Jenkins left Bishops in 1916, marrying Horatia Winter in 1917 by whom he had two children (he had six by his first wife).  He was now the rector of Bagenden, from where he continued to receive the heart-breaking news and reports of fallen ODs.  The magazine writes that he kept up his keen interest in the Old Boys on Active Service, and 'any of them who could find the opportunity to visit him at Bagenden were sure of a warm welcome'.

The names appearing in the U19 Photograph are:
Top Row L to R: M Barry, P. Goosen, W. Willmott, B. Noaks, C. Morse, H. Apsey
Middle Row L to R: E. Powell, P. Cullinan, C. Dicey, I. Hewat (c), D. McIntosh, L. Morris, B. Faure
Bottom Row L to R: H. L. Walcott, C. Downie.
Inserts, T/L, J. Dicey, and T/R, E. Y. Holmes.


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