Frank Evans, known as “Frankie Defan,” played his last game for Rugby League side Swinton Lions on this day 88 years ago, but his legend lives on across Salford.
Evans was born in the Welsh village of Defan in 1897. In a career which spanned 10 years, Evans won many honors with club side Swinton Lions, and was part of the all-conquering Swinton side of the 1920s.
Described as a “prolific try scorer,” Evans joined Swinton Lions in 1921. This would prove to be an incredibly successful move for Evans.
His debut was on the 27th August 1921 against Rochdale Hornets shortly after making the move from Union to League. This would be the first of many as Evans went on to appear 340 more times for the club during which time he scored 195 tries from the wing.
Evans won several honors whilst at Swinton, including the double in 1927 winning both the league and the Lancashire Country Cup in a narrow 5-2 win against Wigan. He was then part of the team that won all five available trophies in 1928, including a successful defense of the league title.
He also won the Challenge Cup in 1926, before helping Swinton secure all five trophies available to them in 1928.
Steve Wild, Operations manager at Swinton Lions, spoke to us today about the winger: “Frank was an integral member of the team”
“He won the championship in 1927, the first time Swinton ever won the championship and then retained it in 1928, winning all five available trophies which has never been done since”
His international career, much like that of his club career, began in Rugby Union. He made his debut in the Five Nations Championship in 1921 against Scotland. This would prove to be his only international union appearance.
“With modern training and modern nutrition, there is no reason to think he couldn’t have been a success in the modern game”
Whilst at the Lions, he made seven appearances for his country in Rugby League, scoring seven tries.
— Swinton Lions RLFC (@Swinton_Lions) October 22, 2018
Evans also made appearances for the Other Nationality team, which mostly comprised of Welsh and Scottish internationals at the time. He made two appearances for the team, both against England, scoring in one in 1924 and 1925 respectively.
In 1924, he became the first Swinton player to be called up for Great Britain. Evans made four appearances at the Ashes tour, scoring against Australia and New Zealand.
Evans’ final Rugby League appearance came in 1930. He remains the clubs joint all-time leading try scorer and one of 20 Welshman to score over 200 tries in their Rugby League career.