Mervyn Hughes was an open side wing forward who played 55 matches for Gloucester in 1937-38 and 1937-39. He was a Welsh trialist and Oxford blue who also played for Chepstow, London Welsh, Cardiff and Gloucestershire. He was Chairman of Gloucester RFC for twenty two years, President for a further sixteen and was one of the great figures of Gloucester Rugby.
Harold Mervyn Hughes was born on 12 July 1913. He played for Chepstow as a schoolboy and in 1930 played for the club against Gloucester United, before going on to study divinity at St David’s College Lampeter.
He went up to Oxford in 1934 and appeared regularly for the first XV during the 1934-35 season, although missing his blue. He played for Oxford in the 1935 and 1936 varsity matches. On November 7 1935 he was “outstanding” in an Oxford University side which lost 10-9 against the All Blacks, who fielded virtually their best team.
In 1935-36 he joined London Welsh after the varsity match. On February 29, playing for London Welsh against the Harlequins, The Times said of him “H M Hughes the Oxford wing forward was an outstanding figure – he seemed faster than the fastest Harlequin back, which was saying something.” At the end of that season The Times said “H M Hughes, the Oxford wing forward, looks one of the most promising players of his type in the British Isles.”
In 1936-37 he again played for London Welsh and appeared in the Final Welsh trial. He made his debut for Cardiff against the Barbarians on March 27 and played several games for them at the end of the season.
He was ordained a deacon and appointed to St Catherine’s Gloucester on October 3 1937. On November 27 he made his debut for Gloucester against his old university at Kingsholm. He played regularly for the rest of the season. In an 8-6 win at Newport he was described as “a fine breakaway forward.” He was one of three clergymen playing for the club, the others being England international Kit Tanner and fellow Oxford blue Bill Phillips.
Mervyn Hughes was ordained a priest on September 25 1938 and played regularly for Gloucester and Gloucestershire throughout that season. On October 15 he was described as “outstanding among the Gloucester forwards” in a win over Northampton.
Reverend Hughes continued to play for Gloucester during the early part of the war. His last major match was for Wavell Wakefield’s XV v Tom Voyce’s XV in a wartime charity match at Kingsholm (November 1940). During the war he organised rugby for his regiment but an injury to his knee ended his playing career at the age of 30.
After the war Canon Hughes maintained his association with the club. He was Chairman from 1949 until 1971 under Arnold Alcock. He became a Vice President in 1965, Life Member in 1976 and was Club President from 1979 until the beginning of the professional game in 1995. He died at Upton St Leonards in February 1998.