[All Rights Reserved.] RUGBY FOOTBALL.
VII. FAMOUS PLATERS. In the space allotted to me it will be impossible to notice all the many famous players who have figured in the Rugby game, and I propose, therefore, selecting for notice the more prominent ones, giving especial prominence to those who stand out as landmarks in the different eras of the game. HOWLAND HILL. The name which the mention of Rugby football immediately suggests is that of Rowland Hill, who has done more for the game than any other man. It will surprise many people to hear that he is of Irish extraction, both his father and mother being natives of the North of Ireland. He was born at Greenwich forty years ago, and was educated at Christ College. On leaving school he took an active interest in football, and he and his brother, Captain Hill, founded the now defunct Queen's House Club. On the death of the late Mr Wallace he succeeded to the secretaryship of the Rugby Union, and undeterred by the enormous amount of labour which his duties have entailed, the incessant monotony of dull routine work, the anxieties of critical times, and very many bitter disappointments, he is still to be found at his post, and to-day works with an undiminished energy and an enthusiasm which time and long office have been unable to warp. It is no exaggeration to say that his retirement would be regarded as a catastrophe to the Rugby world. Apart from his secretarial work he has done more refereeing than any man living, and whenever his services have been requisitioned, at no matter now great a distance, he, has without hesitation sacrificed his personal convenience, and though a night journey from home and a return one after the fatigue of his day's dutyon the field offer by no means a pleasant prospect, he has never shirked facing the music. In order that he may be able to fulfil every - call that is made upon him, he always keepa in reserve a portion of his summer holiday, which he will tell you he would infinitely rather spend at the seaside. Though in name secretary only, he might aptly be described as premier of the Rugby •Jnion. His influence on the committee is enormous, and frequently men abstain from voting because Rowland Hill holds a contrary opinion to themselves. Whenever any new scheme' is propounded the question invariably asked is "What does Rowland Hill think about it ? " A truly remarkable character, not an original genius, but a man of immense solidity, who never utters a rash opinion, but thinks profoundly over his declarations before he enumerates them. " I will give the iiiatier my most careful consideration," is a very favourite answer of his to an interrogator asking for advice. It is useless to try to hurry or hustle him— it cannot bo done. If it comes to a battle of words he can argue nine men out of ten underneath the table. An excellent orator at any timo, he is in his happiest vein when he is) making an after-din-ner speech. Being excellent company he is exceedingly popular, ever courteous to friend and foe alike — truly a combination of isuaviter in modo, fortiter in re. His one fault as a tactician is, perhaps, too great a desire to conciliate. As his name is more widely known than that of any other man in the football world, so his face and figure are familiar to all in the football field. His face, a deeply thoughtful one, might convey at first sight an expression of sternness, but closer inspection cannot fail to carry the conviction of extreme kindliness. Like most great men he cares little for dress, and is quite accustomed to the banter of his friends o:i this score. For his work in the statute •book, in the council chamber, and the secretary's office, for his splendid capacity of governing and organising, and his power of consolidating factions, his name will go dowu to posterity as that of a man who has rendered to 'he Rugby game infinite services, the value • of which none can appraise. A FAMOUS TRIO : W. J. BANCROFT. 1 W. J. Bancroft, the famous Welsh fulltack, played his twenly-eixth match for Wales in the 1897-1898 season, and is rapidly approaching Gould's record, given below. He is a very remarkable kick with either foot, landing oroals from the most extraordinary angles The kick ■with which he snatched a victory for Wales out of the fire on the stroke of time at Cardiff ' some years ago was one of the most sensational ever witnessed. His tackling is weak. J. F. BYHNE, * the English captain of 1897-98, is not so good a runner as A. ._R. Smith but is quite as accurate in aim as Bancroft, and scores goals from "what would appear to be impossible ranges, and if a penalty kick be awarded anywhere inside the half-way flag, it is quite on the oards that he will land a goal. The following record eloquently testifies to his pro•vess — 1895, v. 'Scotland, one penalty sio.il ; i 896, v. Ireland, one dropped goal ; 1897, v. "reland, two penalty goals ; 1^97, v. Seot"nnd, one penalty goal. He has a safe pair of hands and is a good tackier. His one infirmity is a tendency to take matters too foolly, which has occasionally resulted in. his '"k being charged down. He was born at 'onns, in Warwickshire, and educated at St. Joseph's College, Rugby. He commenced his football career in the season of 1886-87 with the Moseley F.C., playing with the •second team. He first played for the Mid'<uid counties in the season of 1891-92. and for ■Uie South in December, 1893, at Fallowfield. * fler which game he was, chosen to play for j '.ngland v. Wales at Birkenhead. Since then ;*. a has been selected to play in all the international matches with the exception of that ,V. Wales at Blackheath, 1896. Last season he represented England for the tenth time- He f ? a very good three-quarter as well, and understands thoroughly the art of feeding his wings and keeping them well in hand. He jioaouyjanied ti* lSazlish team to South
Africa in the summer of 1896, and played in all the 21 matches, showing to conspicuous acbrantage as a centre*, three-quarter Previous to the date named he was not able to spare sufficient time to participate in county cricket. In 1897-98, however, he played for Warwickshire in the majority of their fixtures, and on the occasion of his first appearance, v. Leicestershire, on the 21st of June, at Birmingham, scored a century. A. E. SMITH. A. R. Smith divides with Byrne and Bancroft the distinction of being the finest fullback of the present day. After playing full back for his school, he was t-ried at full back at Oxford, and got his international cap in that position almost immediately. Here he is seen to better advantage than at three-quar-ter, but is more useful in the latter position for the purposes of Oxford's play. His kicking possesses enormous length, and in this respect and in running and tackling he is the best of the trio — in accuracy the other two are his superiors. His wonderfully genial manner and all round sportmanship made him a great success as captain of the Oxford fifteen. He handled them with great tact and judgment, and evolved a good combining four three-quarter team out of material which was to begin with, considered not too promising. He describes himself to me as having attained successes and failures on the football field, the grouse moor, the billiard table, the fives court, at hockey, on the tennis court, the huntingfi eld and the cricket pitch, He has, he says, an ardent passion for fishing, and is fond of a game of gorf ; but has not • achieved much success on the river, for hero his passion for fishing seizes him, and, as he puts it, he catches innumerable crabs. As a leader of the local volunteers he has " shot many rounds to the terror of the corps," ha& obtained honours in classics, and is a member of several literary clubs. He is a breeder of pigeons and canaries in the vacation, and has taken prizes at the local shows ; is fond of polo, and amongst his other acquirements, he can, he says, " take a hand at poker at a pinch." Truly a versatile performer. A. J. GOULD. This distinguished player may be regarded as a link between the three and four threequarter game, and as facile princeps the greatest player we have as yet seen in the latter era. His career has been a truly remarkable one, and though during it he has witnessed many shifting phases of the game he has never failed to exhibit adaptability to an astonishing degree, and in the last volume, as it were, of his lessons he has taught tho rudiments of the four three- quarter game, of which, if he was not the inventor, he was at any rale a most consummate, elaborator, and it is doubtful whether it would have been a success without the aid of his expositions. In tha successes of Welsh international teams ho has been the main factor, and it has been not only by his own splendid qualities as a player, hut by an intimate study of what suited hia confreres in the four three-quarter combination, and his power of adapting his plnn to theirs, and theirs to his, that he has placed himself in a class alone, towering head and shoulders above his contemporaries. He was born at Newport in 1864-, and first represented this now famous club at tho age of sixteen as full back. From 1889 up to 1898, with the exception of one year, when he was at Barbadoes, he has been chosen for every international match, and with his last game against Ireland he beat Maclagan's record. He has, too, the unique distinction of having played for both Newport and Richmond in their invincible years, and one season for Middlesex, when that county was undefeated. He is not of a heavy but of an extremely neat build, and the athlete is unmistakable ; the moment you see him. Ho never won the J championship hurdles, but went very near it, j and was lom> recognised as one of the best | men over sticks in the' United Kingdom. He h one of the few men in Rugby football who have after a year's absence returned to the ' game not only with no diminution but with an improvement upon their previous form He ' is the last 'survivor of our great players who have learnt the elements of play in the three three-quarter game, and he would probably tell you that he derived much of his theory ; of passing from playing behind that accomplished exponent, Alan Rotheram ; and the infinite resource and judgment which distinguished his play from the mechanical mcdi- ', ocrity of his confreres were due to the fact ' that a part of his education was gained in the three three-quarter game, where opportunities were not ready made. He has dropped more goals than any other player of the pre- ' sent day. He combined fleetness of foot with I a dever swerve, but one of his valuable qua- i lities w^i his ability to take in the position of affairs in the twinkling of an eye. And thus one would often see him, when he perceived that his vis-a-vis had been decoyed by the feint of a pass to the wing to tackle the sup- 1 posed transferee, set off at full speed dowu an ' unprotected mid channel for the gonl lino. As a great athlete, a most accomplished player, and one who in the four three-quarter method has never had an equal, A. J. Gould . will be added to the picture gallery of distinguished past masters of the Rugby game.
and will be used in stocking the Tahuna-a-Tara stream, between Rotorua and Taupo. The Oamaru Mail states that tho Undersecretary has informed Mr Duncan,M.H.R., that the Otago Acclimatisation Society should not issue licenses to shoot deer outside its own district, and that it, therefore, cannot issue licenses for the Waitaki district, as it has been in the habit of doing, as that district is not included within the area under its jiirisdiction. He advised the Waitaki and Waimate Society to draw up regulations for shooting deer, and proclaim an open season for the coming sea- . son. At the annual meeting of the Oamaru Caledonian Society the balance sheet showed a profit of £75 12s 2d on the year's working. Prize money amounting to £255 0s 6d was paid. Mr Fairley was elected president, Messrs M'Lean and D. Brown vice-presidents, Mr Rule secretary, Mr Lang treasurer, and Messrs Martin and Grave auditors. A London cable states that Lane won the Quarter-mile Salt \\ ater Swimming Championship at Blackpool by five yards in 6min 30 3-ssec. A Sydney cable states that the Mile Cross . Country Championship was won by Gibson, of the Forest Lodge Harriers. Time, 27min 1 14 sec.