Richard Garnons Williams

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Not to be confused with the rugby union and rugby league footballer of the 1940s and '50s Dickie Williams
Not to be confused with the Australian rugby league footballer Richard Williams (rugby league)
Richard Garnons Williams
Richard Garnons Williams.jpg
Full name Richard Davies Garnons Williams
Date of birth (1856-06-15)15 June 1856
Place of birth Llowes, Wales
Date of death 25 September 1915(1915-09-25) (aged 59)
Place of death Loos, France
School Magdalen College School, Oxford
University Trinity College, Cambridge
Rugby union career
Playing career
Position Forward
Amateur clubs
Years Club / team
Cambridge University R.U.F.C.
Brecon RFC
Newport RFC
National team(s)
Years Club / team Caps (points)
1881 Wales 1 (0)

Richard Davies Garnons Williams (15 June 1856 – 25 September 1915)[1] was a Welsh international rugby union and forward who played club rugby for Brecon and Newport. Williams is notable for playing in the very first Wales international rugby union match in 1881.

He became an officer in the British Army in 1876, and retired from regular service in 1892, though he continued to serve in a voluntary capacity until 1906. Already aged 58 at the outbreak of the First World War, he rejoined the army and was killed in action in 1915.

Early life[edit]

Williams was born in 1856 in Llowes, Radnorshire, the second child of the Reverend Garnons Williams of Abercamlais, Powys, and his wife Catherine Frances, the daughter of Fenton Hort, of Leopardstown, Dublin, and sister of Fenton John Anthony Hort.[2] Williams was educated at Magdalen College School, Oxford before being prepared for University by private tuition in Wimbledon, Surrey. He then went to Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1874. [3][4]

Rugby career[edit]

After becoming a student at Trinity College, Cambridge, Garnons Williams represented Cambridge at Rugby but did not win a Sporting Blue.[5]

In 1881 Williams was selected by Richard Mullock to represent the first Wales team in their inaugural match. The team itself was made up from players based more on their geographic spread of clubs they represented, and university pedigree than rugby ability.[6] Despite the poor selection process, few were expecting such a disparity in the scoreline, as England humiliated Wales in a one sided game with England running in 13 tries. This game was Williams' only appearance for Wales,[1] with the selectors bringing in eleven new caps for the second game.

International matches played[edit]


Military career[edit]

Deciding to follow a military career Williams was accepted into the Royal Military College Sandhurst, and is also recorded as representing the Sandhurst rugby team. He completed his officer training in 1876, and was commissioned as a sub-lieutenant on 26 February.[8][9] He was posted to the 38th Regiment of Foot, and transferred to the 7th Regiment of Foot on 17 February 1877.[10] He was promoted lieutenant on 17 January 1877, and unusually had his army rank (but not regimental seniority) backdated to his original commission as a sub lieutenant.[11]

By February 1885 he had been promoted to captain, and his unit had been renamed the Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment).[12] On 10 January 1887 he was appointed as adjutant of the 4th Battalion of the regiment, the Militia unit associated with the regiment.[13] A regular officer was normally given this post in Militia units to organise training and generally maintain standards. His posting lasted the usual 5 years.[14] He then retired from the regular army on 4 May 1892.[15] On 8 August 1894 he was commissioned as a major in the 1st (Brecknockshire) Volunteer Battalion, South Wales Borderers, a Volunteer Force unit of the South Wales Borderers regiment,[16] and on 1 November 1895 was appointed Brigade Major for the South Wales Brigade of the Volunteer Force.[17] On 12 July 1899 he was granted honorary rank as lieutenant colonel.[18] He resigned his Volunteer commission on 26 May 1906, retaining his rank and with permission to continue wearing his uniform.[19]

He rejoined the British Army shortly after the outbreak of the European War and was posted to his original regiment, joining the 12th (Service) Battalion of the Royal Fusiliers as a major on 26 September 1914.[20] He was promoted temporary lieutenant colonel on 3 October 1914, and transferred back to the South Wales Borderers to command the Brecknockshire Battalion.[21][22] He seems to have soon been posted back to 12th Royal Fusiliers, and was killed on 25 September 1915 while leading his battalion at the Battle of Loos. He is commemorated on the Loos Memorial to the Missing.[23][24] At 59 years of age, he was the eldest of the 13 Wales international players to be killed during the war.


  • Bebbington, David. (2014). Mister Brownrigg's Boys: Magdalen College School and The Great War. London: [Pen and Sword Books]. ISBN 978-1-78346-299-5.
  • Jenkins, Vivian (1981). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1981-82. Aylesbury: Rothmans Publications Ltd. ISBN 0-907574-05-X. 
  • Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-0766-3. 


  1. ^ a b Richard Williams player profile
  2. ^ Life and Letters of Fenton John Anthony Hort Internet
  3. ^ Bebbington, David. (2014). Mister Brownrigg's Boys: Magdalen College School and The Great War. London: Pen and Sword Books.
  4. ^ "Williams (post Garnons-Williams), Richard Davies Garnons (WLMS874RD)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge. 
  5. ^ Jenkins (1981), pp. 145-152.
  6. ^ Smith (1980), pg 40.
  7. ^ Smith (1980), p.473
  8. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24299. p. 886. 25 February 1876. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  9. ^ Following the Cardwell Reforms the British Army briefly used the rank of sub lieutenant before settling on second lieutenant
  10. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24404. pp. 218–219. 16 January 1877. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  11. ^ The London Gazette: no. 24634. p. 5610. 18 October 1878. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  12. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25439. p. 521. 6 February 1885. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  13. ^ The London Gazette: no. 25666. p. 338. 21 January 1887. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  14. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26243. p. 135. 8 January 1892. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  15. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26284. p. 2550. 3 May 1892. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  16. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26539. p. 4548. 7 August 1894. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  17. ^ The London Gazette: no. 26679. p. 6103. 12 November 1895. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  18. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27097. p. 4282. 11 July 1899. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  19. ^ The London Gazette: no. 27916. p. 3662. 25 May 1906. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  20. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 28960. p. 8854. 30 October 1914. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  21. ^ The London Gazette: no. 28922. p. 7819. 2 October 1914. Retrieved 17 April 2009.
  22. ^ Smith (1980), pg 202.
  23. ^ Casualty details—Garnons Williams, Richard Davies, Commonwealth War Graves Commission. Retrieved on 16 April 2009.
  24. ^ Rugby Heroes who went to War BBC Online Matthew Ferris, November 2008