Holberow, Ron

Holberow, Ron

Ron Holberow learned to play rugby as a young boy at Lan Wood School.

At sixteen he had no thought of playing rugby when he left school, but one morning, in 1936, while at his home in Rosser Street, Maesycoed, he was approached by the Pontypridd chairman, Mr. David G. Williams, who explained that the Pontypridd were short of a hooker for their home match with Cross Keys that afternoon, and that he would like Ron to play. Ron immediately agreed, and that afternoon found himself facing the former Welsh hooker, F. A. Bowdler who played for the Monmouthshire club, who congratuled Ron on his display after the match. This was the 1936-37 season, and soon he became the first choice at prop for Pontypridd.

Good in the scrums, he was also outstanding in the loose and the Pontypridd secretary, Mr. David G. Williams, who was also chairman of the Welsh selection committee (the big five), once stated that Ron Holberow was the finest loose forward in the country.

He was also an excellent goal-kicker, and was the club's first choice kicker and often goaled from near or over the halfway line.

With the tries he scored and the goals he kicked he once reached 100 points for the season, a considerable achievement for a prop, and was Pontypridd’s leading scorer. In his second season, the 1937-38 captain, Emlyn Walters, asked for Ron to be his vice-captain, but D. G. Williams would not allow it, stating that at nearly 17 years of age Ron should not be playing senior rugby, led alone be vice-captain! 

However, Ron was ambitious and in at the end of the 1938-39 season he told Mr. D. G. Williams that he had done enough for Pontypridd, and playing for a second class club would not fill his ambition of international honours.

He had a trial for Cardiff and played his first game in at the start of the season and the following day war broke out!  

Ron joined the Royal Navy and served on submarines, and played rugby for Devonport Services, and sometimes for Ponty when home on leave.  

When the war ended he played a few games for Ponty before being asked by Cardiff to return to them because their main goalkicker, Tamplin, was injured. 

He played around 10 games for Cardiff before he found himself dropped from ALL the Cardiff teams. This puzzled Ron, but eventually he was told by the ‘Western Mail’ rugby reporter ‘Old Stager’ that Cardiff had received a letter from a Pontypridd Committee member, stating that Ron Holberow had only joined Cardiff so that he could ask the Rugby League clubs that were after services, for more money.

Ron then joined Penarth, whom he played for for nearly two seasons and scored 134 points in his first full season, and played for the Glamorgan County team.  

In 1949 he played a few games for Bridgend before he eventually went North, joining Whitehaven, for who in one game he kicked four goals from his own half!  

But after a year his father became seriously ill, and Ron returned to South Wales.  With Whitehaven’s permission he later played three quarters of a season for the Bridgend rugby league team, Whitehaven hoping that Ron would return North, but it was not to be as Ron then decided to retire. 

Interviewed by Gareth Harris in November 1999, Ron was still bitter about what the Pontypridd committee man had written to Cardiff, and had even refused to let his grandchildren play for the Pontypridd RFC mini-section.

For the last 60 years, even though living just above Sardis Road for 35 of those, he refused to watch Pontypridd play. Ron felt that had he been allowed to stay with Cardiff he might well have won an international cap. He also was also sad that the Cardiff Committee had not called him before them to ask if the letter was true or not. 

Ron Holberow died at Rosser Street, Maesycoed in the autumn of 2010.

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