Percy Bush, represented Wales eight times in the first Golden era, was Captain of Cardiff RFC, the first British Lion to score 100 points on a tour, one of the first truly international rugby players and one of the greatest rugby characters. Certainly, Percy Bush can make a strong claim to be the mould from which all subsequent Welsh No. 10s have been modelled.
Publisher: Y Lolfa
Max Boyce's song revealing the existence of a Welsh outside-half factory may not be as fanciful as it seems. The list is impressive. In recent times we can name Barry John, Jonathan Davies, Neil Jenkins, Phil Bennett and James Hook. Earlier we had Cliff Morgan and Carwyn James. And before that we had Cliff Jones and Jerry O'Shea. Earlier still we could name Jenkins, Jones, Bancroft and Trew.
But even in an outside-half factory, there must have existed a mould. And that mould, maintains Ken Poole, was Percy Bush. Winner of only eight Welsh caps, he was, nevertheless, legendary both on and off the field. Indeed, a rugby correspondent on the South Wales Argus described him as 'superlative'. As captain of Cardiff RFC, Bush is regarded as one of the first international rugby players. He, maintains Poole, was the mould on which all subsequent Welsh Number 10s have been fashioned.
This is far more than a book on a rugby great. It has a much broader canvas. The Bush family's skills included big-game hunting in Kenya, promoting artists, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, establishing technical education in Cardiff and Newport, promoting Welsh industry overseas and upholding pacifist principles during the two World Wars.
Bush was born in Cardiff in 1879, during a period that saw the city become the coal metropolis of the world. Like the Klondike, the city attracted people from all over the globe. It was also a period that saw a new sport gripping the Cardiffians. Cardiff Rugby Club, founded in 1876, attracted up to 4,000 spectators. The 1890 Wales v Scotland international attracted some 10,000 supporters.
Bush embraced the oval-ball culture, ensuring his place in the record books by scoring the most drop goals by a Lion in test matches and becoming the first Lion to score 100 points on tour, including scoring 12 tries. Bush, however, was a maverick and was not guaranteed his international place. His sense of humour and love of practical jokes on the administrators did not go down well. After his international rugby career ended in 1910, Bush moved to France to work in the commercial field as a coal ambassador, becoming a vice consul. There he became a great influence on French rugby. He returned to Wales in 1938 and died in 1955. But the mould remained unbroken and the outside-half production line rolls on.
Lyn Ebenezer @ www.gwales.com