Neath’s Shane Williams was inducted into the World Rugby “Hall of Fame” this week – but he was not the only Neath RFC player honoured.
Neath secretary Mike Price said, “This year’s list also includes one Danny Carroll of Australia – and it is a little-known fact that he turned out once for Neath way back in 1908 although I wouldn’t imagine even the judges were aware of his Neath link.”
Daniel Brendan Carroll was, at no more than 19 years old, the youngest member of the 1908 Australian tour party and, after winning Olympic gold as the Aussies beat Cornwall (representing Great Britain), he played for the tourists in their 15-3 win over Neath-Aberavon at The Gnoll and in their 6-9 defeat by Wales.
He was the tourists’ top try scorer with 15 but, not content with that, he turned out at centre for the Welsh All Blacks in their 13-3 Boxing Day win over London Welsh… but he did not score. Home tries were levied by wing Tom Davies and forwards Will Sandham and Will Perry with full back W.M. Edwards converting two.
Carroll was though involved in Davies’ try – as the “Evening Express” recorded : “A brilliant movement followed. The Neath half-backs set the ball going and Carroll, Frank Rees and Tom Davies handling faultlessly, the last-named scored a fine converted try. (Hop) Maddocks afterwards placed a nice penalty goal for the Londoners.”
After the tour, Carroll became a naturalised USA citizen and fought in the First World War in the US Army as a Lieutenant winning a DSC at Bois-de-Cheppy in August 1918.
He was then seconded to the Australian forces in order to represent Australia in the 1919 King’s Cup but within a year he was player-coach of the USA team which won Olympic gold in 1920 – a second rugby gold to go with his 1908 medal.
He returned to Britain in 1921 to study at Oxford and at the Royal School of Mines in England before taking up an appointment with Standard Oil and remained with the company until his retirement.
At various times, he was a university lecturer, rugby coach, oil company executive and a qualified dentist (!) and, after a full life of rare variety, this Australian-American (and Welshman for a day) died in San Francisco in 1956.
Mike Price said, “Shane’s inclusion will be welcomed by us all at Neath given his contribution to club, region, Wales and Lions and, in terms of the entertainment provided, he has few peers in the history of the Game. But it is nice too to see a character like Danny Carroll remembered over 100 years on and we are pleased that such a rugby pioneer had an association – albeit a fleeting one with the Neath club.”