The Arthur Gould "affair" is arguably the greatest controversy that has ever been associated with the Newport Athletic Club. Considered the greatest rugby player of his time, Gould had left Newport once before, for the West Indies in 1890, before which he had been honoured at a smoking concert at the Albert Hall in Newport and been presented with a gold ring plus a cheque for fifty guineas. The call for the 1890 testimonial being reported in the Western Mail of 19th May 1890 as follows:-
"EMIGRATION OF A WELSH ATHLETE"
"IMPENDING DEPARTURE OF MR. A. J. GOULD FOR THE WEST INDIES"
"A TESTIMONIAL SUGGESTED"
"A large number of our readers will, no doubt, regret to learn that Mr. Arthur J. Gould, of athletic and football fame, will leave England for the West Indies, where he proposes to settle, early in June. Many of his friends have expressed a wish to show their admiration of his abilities in the running and football field by presenting him with something to mark their esteem. We shall be happy to receive any subscriptions, as will also the hon. secretary and treasurer of the Newport Athletic Club. The presentation will take place not later than the 31st inst."
On 6th June 1890 the Star of Gwent opined "Mr. Arthur Gould was well deserving of the presentation made to him at the Albert Hall on Saturday evening. For years past he has been a prominent figure in all branches of sport as an all-round man; he is not excelled by any other athlete in the Kingdom. At football he is acknowledged to be one of the finest three-quarters in the country. As a sprinter, he has gained great renown, whilst as a cricketer, he has done useful service for the Newport Club. The qualities displayed by him have splendidly developed themselves over the years, and he has won laurels of which any athlete might well feel proud. As showing the interest he takes in his favourite game of football, it may be noted that during the course of one short season, he travelled between 3000 and 4000 miles to play for Newport, and represented Wales in international matches. He is now about to leave Newport to seek his fortune in foreign lands, and a host of local acquaintances will honestly wish him bon voyage and a safe return."
Returning from the West Indies after only some eighteen months, Gould reclaimed his place in the Newport team, and the Welsh team of 1892.
Upon announcing his formal retirement as a player a fund was established to provide him with a testimonial. Admission to the testimonial banquet and presentation evening was priced 5 shillings (25p today). The testimonial incurred the wrath of the International Board who considered that it represented professionalism in an amateur sport. The public outcry in Wales was overwhelmingly in favour of Gould and the testimonial. Fortified by public support the Welsh Football Union withdrew from the International Board in February 1897 and braced themselves to face any consequences. No international match took place between Wales and Scotland in 1896-97 or 1897-98, nor with Ireland in 1896-97! The situation was somewhat defused by the then Honorary Secretary of the Rugby Football Union, G. Rowland Hill, who in September 1897 persuaded the AGM of the RFU that it was in the best interests of the game that Gould be permitted to continue playing. Wales were re-admitted to the International Rugby Board in February 1898. G. Rowland Hill going on, in 1928, to become the first person knighted for services to rugby football.