Arthur Gould is the definitive biography of the record-breaking Welsh international player who is widely acknowledged as the first superstar of rugby. Such was his fame and renown, that upon his tragic, early death in 1919, aged just 54, Gould’s funeral in Newport was reported as the biggest Wales had ever seen.
Nicknamed ‘Monkey’ due to his childhood fondness for climbing trees, Gould played the majority of his club rugby for Newport RFC and won a then-record 27 Welsh caps; 25 of which were at centre (a record only bettered by Steve Fenwick in 1980); and captained his country 18 times (a record only beaten in 1994 by Ieuan Evans). A true sporting sensation, when he retired in 1899 Gould had played more first-class matches and scored more tries and drop goals than any other player.
Gould’s superstar status was illustrated late in his career when a testimonial appeal received widespread public support and resulted in the Scottish and Irish unions cancelling their fixtures with Wales in protest at the apparent breach of the game’s strict amateur ethos. The controversy deepened when the Welsh Football Union (now the WRU) stood firmly behind their iconic player and withdrew from the International Rugby Board. Fearing that lucrative fixtures with Welsh clubs might be lost and that Wales might join forces with the newly established Northern Union of professional rugby, England’s Rugby Football Union brokered a ‘one-off’ dispensation which enabled Gould to benefit from the testimonial while retaining his amateur status, and ensured that international fixtures were resumed.
Comprehensively researched and written by acclaimed rugby historian, Gwyn Prescott, with the full support and encouragement of the Gould family, Arthur Gould – Rugby’s First Superstar includes over 100 illustrations and will be enjoyed by all who love rugby and treasure its sporting and cultural heritage.