In 1948-49 Hedley Rowland took over the captaincy and proved to be a popular and inspirational leader. His influence provided highly entertaining rugby such that Newport had some of the biggest gates in their history. Hedley believed that attack was the best form of defence and as a result 532pts were scored and only 170 conceded. Illness meant that he only played 27 matches but he was still top try scorer with 19t, 1pg and 4c.
Apart from Hedley Rowland Newport had key players in half-backs Roy Burnett who was starting to come into his own and Haydn Thomas.
Bunner Travers made a magnificent comeback at hooker and pack leader and was ably supported by forwards Ernie Coleman, Tom Sterry, Peter Davies, L. E. T. Jones, R. T. Evans, Dando and Stewart Kimpton. Newbridge fullback Gerry Gibbons solved the fullback problem and became a key attacker when Jack Evans joined Hunslet.
Ken Jones was at Loughborough College, Malcolm Thomas had joined the Royal Navy, while Graham Ross and Deryck Jones missed many games through injury. This was a vintage year and Newport had gates of 19,500 and 24,000 for the two Cardiff games, 15,000 for the Watsonians and 14,000 for the Barbarians. Roy Burnett led the appearances on 39.
January of 1949 had seen the Secondary Schools "international" between Wales and Yorkshire at Rodney Parade. It was noted in the match programme that: "The Newport Athletic Club are happy to stage this match, and warmly welcome the Yorkshire and Welsh teams and officials to their grounds to-day. In this warm, generous atmosphere of Rugby football, steeped as all schoolboys must know, in such great and continuing tradition, there is source here in itself for inspiration to the 30 young men taking the fie!d this afternoon. It is right, as in the past, to anticipate football of a high standard, as befits the occasion, and to express the hope that for all concerned - players and officials alike - the Newport International of 1949 will be one memorable to recall." The Wales team included the legend-in-waiting that was Cliff Morgan of Tonyrefail, and an equal Black & Amber legend-in-waiting, a certain B. Meredith of West Mon Grammar School.