Dictionary of Welsh Biography

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NICHOLLS , ERITH GWYN ( 1875 - 1939 ), Wales and Cardiff Rugby centre three-quarter ;

probably one of the most famous Welsh Rugby players although b. in Gloucestershire in 1875 . In his youth he played at half-back and centre for the old Cardiff Stars — and, for a brief period, with the now long defunct Cardiff Harlequins as full-back and half-back . Later, he played as centre , full-back and half-back for the Cardiff Reserves . On New Year's Day, 1894 , Nicholls played his first game in the Cardiff side — as a full-back . He played three times in that position and then took up the position in which he became famous. He captained Wales on many occasions, the most famous being in 1905 when Wales beat New Zealand at the Cardiff Arms Park — the only defeat of the ‘ All Blacks ’ tour. Nicholls was ‘capped’ for Wales twenty-four times between 1896 and 1906 . He was the author of The Modern Rugby Game and How to Play It , London : 1916(?) . About 1909 Nicholls entered into partnership with his brother-in-law, H. B. Winfield (q.v.) , and together they established the Victoria Laundries at Whitchurch and other centres in South Wales . At intervals he sat upon the committee of the Cardiff Rugby Club and from 1925 to 1931 was a member of the Welsh Rugby Union . For several seasons he was, too, one of the Welsh ‘Big Five.’ He d. 24 March 1939 . On 26 Dec. 1949 , the gates, which were erected to his memory at Cardiff Arms Park , were officially opened.


  • Rugby Football Annual , 1939-40 , 11;
  • W. J. T. Collins , Rugby Recollections (1948) , 14;
  • The Times , 25 March and 18 May 1939 ;
  • Western Mail , 25 March 1939 and 28 Dec. 1949 .


Dr Moelwyn Idwal Williams, M.A., Aberystwyth

Published date: 1959