The Disallowed Try that changed Welsh Rugby

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The All Blacks arrive

Few rugby matches have had such an impact on national life as the match between Wales and the seemingly invincible New Zealand side in 1905. 

The All Blacks arrived in Cardiff on the back of a devastating series of victories against the other Home Nations, leaving a trail of 32 beaten teams in their wake and having scored an astounding 800 points.  Their opponents had scored only 27 points between them in reply.

The Welsh team

Though Wales were the underdogs against this impressive side, they certainly had room for confidence.  The beginning of the 20th century would later become known as the 'first golden era of Welsh rugby'.  Between 1900 and 1911, Wales won 35 of their 43 matches, winning the Home Nations tournament seven times.

 

The match kicks-off

The stage was set for an impressive clash to find the best team in the world.

The match was played on 16 December at the Arms Park in Cardiff.  Before kick-off, the 47,000-strong crowd witnessed their first ever Haka and responded with a spontaneous rendition of Hen Wlad fy Nhadau; an action which established a tradition lasting to this day.

When play began it was a fierce battle between the two sides with neither side looking close to scoring for the first 30 minutes. 

However, the deadlock was broken when winger Teddy Morgan scored in the corner from a set move devised by scrum half Dickie Owen on the training field.  This did not open the floodgates however and the battle continued in the second half.  

The disallowed try

Following a sustained period of attack, New Zealand’s centre Bob Deans looked to have scored but the try was controversially disallowed by Scottish referee J. D. Dallas. 

The game ended with Wales triumphant by 3 points to nil, or one try to nil, and the All Blacks claimed that a flagrant injustice had been committed.  Deans was adamant that he had scored the try and that the Welsh players had dragged him back from the try-line before the referee arrived on the scene.  

Later in life, Welsh try-scorer Morgan was to admit that Deans had in fact scored the try and that the game should have been a draw.  

This controversial win placed Wales firmly on the world rugby scene and established one of international rugby’s longest rivalries.  It seemed that success on the rugby field was mirroring Welsh industrial, economic and political expansion.

Rugby’s position as the national game was sealed.