Black History Month Bio - George Bennett
20 Oct 2020
George Bennett (Wigan, Bradford & Wales)
George Bennett was a true pioneer. On 1 January 1935 he ran out to play stand-off for Wales against France in Bordeaux - and so became the first black Welsh player to play international rugby of any code.
The game was also Wales’ first-ever international against France. The French won 11-18, but George was back the next season for Wales’ inaugural win against them. He then starred with two tries as Wales beat England for the first time in 13 years, which won them their first-ever European Championship.
Although raised in Risca in South Wales, George was playing rugby union for Weston-Super-Mare when he signed for Wigan in November 1930. Smart, skilful and fast, he won the hearts of Wigan fans when he scored a try on his debut for the club, the first of 101 he would score in his 230 games in cherry and white.
In 1934 he helped guide the club to victory in the Championship FInal (the forerunner of today’s Grand Final) against Salford, and then in 1937 he transferred to Bradford. He helped the club to become one of the dominant sides of the 1940s, playing for them in the Challenge Cup finals of 1944 and 1945.
In the 1945 final versus Huddersfield he lined up against fellow black Welshman Alec Givvons, who had followed in George’s footsteps when he too played for Wales in 1936. Between them, they had blazed a trail that dozens would follow in the future.