Two Welshman of Manchester Rugby Fame
Diwrnod davids sant hapus!
Or, Happy Saint David’s Day. Here are a couple of Welshmen who played a big part in Manchester’s rugby history.
Emlyn Jenkins was born in 1910, in Treherbert in the heart of the Rhondda region of Wales, a rugby hotbed. After playing for Cardiff RFC, Jenkins took the Northern Pound and became a fixture of Manchester rugby for the next two decades.
In 1931, he joined Lance Todd’s Salford as a professional. In his 246 appearances for the reds, he scored 88 times, becoming a fan favourite in the process. He was part of Salford’s famous tour of France, wherein they got the nickname Les Diables Rouges – The Red Devils – later borrowed by Manchester United.
After the Second World War, Jenkins tried his hand at coaching, working on the other side of the Irwell with Belle Vue Rangers, before being poached by Saint Helens, where he is remembered fondly.
“A good tackler, and keen as a terrier”
George Ruddick, from Brecon, won everything with Broughton Rangers. He was an ever-present for the Rangers during their golden era, playing for them 422 times from 1899 to 1915.
Born in Brecon, Ruddick was one of a number of Welshmen who joined the Northern Union in its early days, rejecting the strict amateurism of the WRFU. He was part of the legendary Rangers team of 1902 that won the league and the Challenge Cup, and he won the cup again with Broughton in 1911.
Off the field, Ruddick worked as a joiner and lived in Moston.
On the 19th April 1915 Ruddick joined the Royal Engineers Battalion, and played his last game for Broughton on the 25th September against Saint Helens. Sadly, his foot was badly injured at the front and he was never to play for Broughton again. After the war, he settled in Manchester, and lived for another thirty years.
Both Jenkins and Ruddick represented Wales and Great Britain at international level and, more importantly for us, were a big part in building Manchester’s rugby story.