|The History of Rugby in King Edward VII School, Taiping|
|Saturday, 31 May 2008 00:53|
Rugby was played at King Edward VII School as far back as 1923. It had been introduced to the school by Mr. T.J. Thomas, one of the European schoolmasters. But the earliest record, written by the Vice-Captain, Che Wan Chick bin H. Ismail, appeared in “The Edwardian” for December 1925. “Rugby is still in its infancy for the boys do not understand the game thoroughly. Many turn up for practices and many more to watch. We cannot force them to play what they call a ‘dangerous’ game. Let us hope that in the near future it will be as popular as football.”
In the 1926 season, little interest was shown in this apparently strenuous game. Nevertheless rugby practices were held once a week and the robust participants seemed to derive great fun from the game, leaving aside all anxiety to improve their tactics.
Mr. T.J. Thomas, who remained with the players from 1923 to 1927, spent many hours patiently coaching the boys. Of rugby in the school, he commented, “Up to 1926 - 1927 we used to kick a ball about and have an occasional practice; boys and masters combined. In the 1926 - 1927 season, we had organised school games - two picked sides, in which teachers and boys participated, but we had no matches with outsiders.”
By 1927 when Mr. Thomas, the first coach left, Rugby was as popular as football. Mr. F.R.C. Markham and Mr. E.H.S. Bretherthon then undertook the training and coaching of the boys, but because there were very few Asian rugby teams at that time, they were unable to arrange outside matches. King Edward VII School had the honour to field the first school fifteen in the country. The old boys came to acquire a love for the game and by 1927 the “ Old Edwardian” XV came into being.
The encouragement and support of Mr. J.D. Joseph, who remained in the school from 1927-1931, first as a teacher and later as principal, paved the way for rapid progress. During his time, five matches were played with outside teams - two against the All Blues of Seremban, an old established, heavier and more experienced side. There was naturally a weakness in the combination of the School forwards and backs, due to lack of practice, but in these their best two matches with an outside club, the team had every reason for satisfaction despite the score which was 13-6 in the first, and 16-3 in the second match in favour of the All Blues. The three remaining matches were played against the Ipoh Birch Rompers. Out of these three games, the school team won a victory in the first match on 17th November 1928. This was the first recorded success in the history of the school. However, the school was defeated in the second and third matches which were played in 1929.
A sudden decline in Rugby occurred in 1930, but the following year a complete reorganisation took place. To improve the standard of this game, each of the Six Senior Houses had to present a team. An Inter-House League Competition and Knock-Out Tournament were introduced. In addition, a Rugby Shield was presented to the Champion House for the year, and Rugby colours were awarded to the more outstanding players of the season. These incentives drew nearly a hundred boys to the rugby practices each week.
The honour of being the first winners of the Rugby Shield went to King’s House which won both the Inter-House League and Knock-Out Competitions.
Within that same season, the School XV played its only outside match and that was against the Taiping Asiaticts, which it beat 6-3. That was the first time that the school was represented by purely boys’ team, which was made up of Siew Hong, Ah Kow, Wan Noh, Kim Chan, Yahayaudin (Capt.), Raja Aziz, Yam Onn, Dennan, Mohd Ghows, Swee Aun, Hatton, Sulaiman, Ibrahim, Ahmad and Harun. The first to be awarded colours were Yahayaudin, Lim Swee Aun, Sulaiman and Harun.
Mr. R.P.S. Walker, the Principal, did a great deal to mould the School team. He did not play rugby, but the interest he took in the game and the regularity with which he attended all school and House Matches were sufficient to popularize rugby among the boys of the school. Mr. T.P.M. Lewis, the coach also worked assiduously for several years to improve the standard of play.
The following seasons of creditable success were when the school team was launched into rigorous interschool matches. In 1933, the first inter-school rugby match in the history of Malaya took place. It was then that the regular and diligent practices proved rewarding, for the School defeated Penang Free School 9-0.
The victorious team comprised the following – Sey Poon, Beng Hoe, Yan Sau (Capt.), Zainuddin, Che Rose, Darus, Shaarani, Osman, Lim Swee Chin, Hamzah, Omar, Darus b. Raof, Sani, Foong Ah Kow, Toh Tuck, Mydin and Aziddin. The following year the score was increased to 10-0, in favour of the Tigers and for the first time since the series started in 1932, the School defeated the Old Edwardians in 1934.
SCHOOL RUGBY XV 1933
1935 again saw a decline in the strength of the school team to the fact that some of the best players had left school. However, two seasons later, the school managed to maintain an undefeated record. “The Edwardian” had this to say, “The XV of 1937 was a team each member of which knew exactly what the best way to do his part efficiently; there was less of the undesirable individualism selfishness of 1936....”
This was, in fact, the beginning of King Edward VII’s ascent to the top. There seasons of success followed and in 1939, the followers of the game began to wonder whether King Edward VII could ever be defeated by another school.
During 1938 there were some new developments. To encourage more boys to play rugby, members of the School team were forbidden to play for their houses. House jerseys were introduced to brighten up the game as well as to attract more boys to play.
The Second World War came, and until 1946, there was no rugby. At that time King Edward's was fortunate to have as its principal, Mr. J.D. Joseph, who had helped to improve the game in the School. His keenness and encouragement, coupled with the sound coaching of the rugby master Mr. Yeoh Teng Khoo assisted by Mr. Lim Swee Chin enabled King Edward VII School to set up a rugby team again - the first school in North Malaya to do so. Though it was not as formidable as the teams of pre-war years the fifteen stalwarts had the true rugby spirit. Inter-school matches were resumed and the Tigers won practically all of them for the next eleven years.
A school Second XV was formed in 1947 and it had a creditable season. The year closed with the Buckley Cup match, played between the School team and the Old Boys. The School lost but the defeat proved an incentive to tougher training, and the following year, the School XV wrested the cup from the Old Edwardians for the first time in the series.
The Tigers dominated the Combined Schools Team for some years after the war. In 1948 itself, King Edward’s had nine members in the State fifteen, including Gian Singh who was the Captain. In subsequent years, more players represented the State.
Mr. D.H. Christie’s reign at K.E. saw no decline in rugby. Mr. Christie, an outstanding player in his youth, helped the side whenever possible - showing the finer points of the Perak Asiatic XV, the Taiping XV and the Penang All Blues which had several state players.
In 1949, the Edwardians, not contented in being the best team in North Malaya, took on what was reputed to be the best side in the South - the St. Andrews XV who had reserved their most formidable side to play against us. The Edwardians fought with tigerish ferocity and emerged victorious with the score 8-3. The victories repeated in 1951 and 1954 proved beyond doubt that King Edward’s had the best rugger team in the country.
Inter-School matches between King Edward’s and Anderson, Ipoh have always been popular with the boys. Edwardians who are seldom seen on the field generally make their way to the side lines. Since 1928, when the series started, the Tigers were not defeated until 1958 when they lost by a narrow margin, the score being 8-11.
The school never lacked support from the old Edwardians and the tiger cubs in school. At every game on our own ground and elsewhere their roars have spurred the teams on. The Rugby tour of 1954 was no exception. The great success of this tour was due largely to the spirit of the Old Edwardians who also contributed to the cost of the tour. What few members there were all turned up in full force to cheer their Alma Mater to victory. This was specially noticeable in Singapore where more than half the spectators were old boys of the school. By going down to Singapore the rugby team made history in the school for that was the first time the Edwardian tigers had gone as far south as Singapore, The Rugger team was therefore entrusted with the honour of showing the school colours to new teams in new places, And they did keep the Edwardian flag flying high indeed. Convincing victories were scored in all the encounters they had. But it was a great pity that the true tigerish prowess of the rugby team could not be tested for many or the teams whom we wished to meet refused our challenge. Summing up the events of the highly successful season of 1954. “The Edwardian” commented. “Wherever the ‘Tigers’ went they were always on the ‘Kill’.
They proved themselves masters of the game not only in the Federation but also in the island of Singapore. Out Of a total of eleven inter-school matches only one School, the Sultan Abdul Hamid College, had the effrontery to cross our line and beat us 5-3. However, we avenged out defeat by beating them in the convincing score of 8-0 when they turned up on our padang.”
Credit for the success does not rest on the ‘Tigers’ alone. It is only right that tribute should be paid to the man behind the post-war rugger scene – Mr. Yeoh Teng Khoo. King Edward’s own able, tough and experienced coach for many years. It was he who brought out the best in the players, subjecting them to rigorous and merciles coaching by putting them through their paces on the field while the sun was still scorching until the title stars were peeping through the dusky sky.
From 1954-57, the school fielded fairly strong teams, turning out the usual crop of outstanding players. The ‘Tigers’ were still feared and respected.
After Mr. Yeoh Teng Khoo left, in 1958, a revival took place and the second successful rugby tour to Singapore was undertaken in 1961. Once again no game was lost and the two notable victories were against the Johore English College and the St. Andrews School. The Old Boys throughout Malaya contributed financially towards the tour. Since then, many rugby masters and coaches have come and gone – a most undesirable fact. From 1958 on, a slight detioteration in the standard of play became evident.
SCHOOL RUGBY XV 1954
All in all, we have had a fair share of victories. It is true that we cannot always win, but nevertheless, we must all the same maintain our determination to win – in the true Tiger Spirit.
The history of rugby at K.E has been dominated by many ups and downs, victories and defeat. The undesirable change of rugby masters and coaches has to be coped with. Often at the beginning of the season, an entirely new team has to be built up around the nucleus of the few remaining players of the previous year. Since this is unavoidable, it has been taken as a matter of course. Thus there are times when the School XV is at its ebb and peak strength. But as long as the rugby spirit remains, fifteen ‘tigers in red and black’ striped jerseys will continue to be seen breaking the green monotony of the K.E field.
(This article appeared in the “Old Edwardian” 1965 )
See also: RUGBY CAPTAINS THROUGH THE YEARSLast Updated ( May 20, 2008 at 11:54 AM )
|Last Updated on Wednesday, 20 August 2008 23:05|