Arthur "Monkey" Gould (10 October 1864–2 January 1919) was a Welsh international and who played club rugby for Newport Rugby Football Club. He won 27 caps for Wales and is seen as one of the first superstars of Welsh rugby union Towards the end of his career Gould was at the centre of a row which saw Wales withdraw from international rugby for 12 months.
Gould was born into a sporting family in Newport in 1864. His father, Joseph, had moved to Newport from Oxford to work in the brass foundry business, and was himself an ardent sportsman playing for the local cricket team. Gould was known to all as 'Monk' Gould, taken from his childhood nickname 'Monkey' because of his youthful passion for climbing trees.
His five brothers were all notable rugby players and athletes. Gould's brother Bob was a forward who captained Newport 1886–87 and played 11 times for Wales (once as captain versus Scotland 1887). A younger brother, G. H. "Bert", was a centre who played three times for Wales including in the same Welsh team as Arthur that won the Triple Crown for the first time in 1893. Harry, Gus and Wyatt were the other three brothers to play for Newport. Wyatt captained Newport in 1905–06 and Harry was present in the first season 1875–76. There was at least one of the six brothers in Newport’s team for the first 29 seasons and Wyatt played until 1907 (but not in 1904–05). Wyatt represented Great Britain in the 400m hurdles in the 1908 Summer Olympics at White City, London.
Gould had played a few games for the third XV and was the replacement for the regular fullback. He ran in two tries with Captain C H Newman shouting "kick, kick!"; he was never dropped from the Newport First XV from that day. In his fourth season he was moved up to play as a three-quarter. He played for Newport during their invincible 1891–92 season and in 1892–93 only three games were lost. Gould captained Newport in 1893–94, losing only 3 games, and again during the 1894–95 season when the club lost only to Llanelli, 6–8, in an away game.
As there were no professional rugby players in Wales during this time, Gould and his brother Bob, travelled Britain working as public works contractors. During this time he entered open athletic meets and played for varying English rugby teams including the Southampton Trojans, London Welsh and from 1887 was a regular member of the Richmond team.
International matches played
No accurate records are available until 1886, but from 1887–1898 he scored 136 tries and dropped 42 goals. Although no records are available for conversions and penalty goals, other years' details are:
...as Arthur Gould is as pre-eminent in football as W. G. Grace is in cricket, the footballing enthusiasts of Wales might recognise his services to the game ... by some national testimonial
Welsh shipbroker, W.J. Orders, organised a collection fund on the floor of the Cardiff Coal Exchange and floated a public testimonial of one shilling. The national response was massive and within weeks the total was into hundreds of pounds. This drew the Welsh Football Union into a confrontation with the International Football Rugby Board, as rule 2 on professionalism stated that no player is allowed to receive money from his club or any member of his club for services rendered to football. The fund being raised by the people of Wales could be seen as a professional fee to Gould making him henceforth ineligible to play for his country. The WFU argued that the money raised was not given by the club but an outpouring of thanks from the Welsh public to a national hero.
By April 1896 the Welsh Football Union had sanctioned a subscription of 1000 shillings from funds for the Gould testimonial. The Rugby Football Union complained and the IFRB reacted by informing the WFU that only a gift of plate up to the value of a hundred pounds sterling could be given to Gould, with the rest of the fund being donated to charity; or Wales would lose their international fixtures. The WFU stood down and withdrew their subscription. The reaction in Wales was one of anger, with the people feeling that the WFU had bowed to English pressure and had been bullied into a decision against the people's wishes. There was also a feeling from other national unions, that the monies maybe given to Gould after he had retired from rugby.
In February 1897 the WFU wrote to the IFRB and withdrew their membership, in a move that was seen as an act of hurt pride but also as a manouvre to appease the Welsh supporters. The WFU then reinstated their subscription to Gould. On Easter Monday 1897, Sir John Llewellyn, president of WFU, presented Gould with the title deeds of his house, Thornbury in Clytha Park, Newport.
From February 1897 Wales could not field an international team until the IRFB, supported by the RFU, recommended that Wales be readmitted into the organisation in February 1898. The WFU agreed that they would in future abide by all IRFB by-laws and Gould was not allowed to play in any future international games. Gould accepted the ruling but returned to rugby as a referee.
Gould died at age 54. He became ill at work and rushed home. He died of an internal haemorrhage.
His funeral was reported as the biggest ever seen in Wales, until almost 30 years later when David Lloyd George died. Gould is buried at St Woolos Cemetery, Newport. In June 2007 he was inducted into the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame. 15 of Gould's family were in attendance including his granddaughter Mary Hailes and niece Helen Chubb.
In Royal Gwent Hospital in the city is Arthur Gould Memorial Bed, inscribed: "To the memory of Arthur Gould – Greatest of Rugby Football Players".