|Full name||Aberavon Rugby Football Club|
|Location||Port Talbot, Wales|
|Ground(s)||Talbot Athletic Ground (Capacity: 3,000)|
|Chairman||Andrew V John|
|Coach(es)||Jason Hyatt, Lyndon Lewis|
|League(s)||Welsh Premier Division|
Aberavon RFC (Welsh : Clwb Rygbi Aberafan) is a rugby union club located in the Welsh town of Port Talbot, though the club's name refers to the older settlement of Aberavon which lies on the western side of the town.
Welsh or y Gymraeg is a member of the Brittonic branch of the Celtic languages. It is spoken natively in Wales, by some in England, and in Y Wladfa. Historically, it has also been known in English as "Cambrian", "Cambric" and "Cymric".
Rugby union, commonly known in most of the world simply as rugby, is a contact team sport which originated in England in the first half of the 19th century. One of the two codes of rugby football, it is based on running with the ball in hand. In its most common form, a game is between two teams of 15 players using an oval-shaped ball on a rectangular field with H-shaped goalposts on each try line.
Wales is a country that is part of the United Kingdom and the island of Great Britain. It is bordered by England to the east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, and the Bristol Channel to the south. It had a population in 2011 of 3,063,456 and has a total area of 20,779 km2 (8,023 sq mi). Wales has over 1,680 miles (2,700 km) of coastline and is largely mountainous, with its higher peaks in the north and central areas, including Snowdon, its highest summit. The country lies within the north temperate zone and has a changeable, maritime climate.
The club was founded in 1876 as Afan Football Club, and changed names several times before settling on Aberavon Rugby Football Club. They joined the Welsh Rugby Union in 1887 and are feeder club to the Ospreys region.
The Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) is the governing body of rugby union in the country of Wales, recognised by the sport's international governing body, World Rugby.
The Ospreys, formerly the Neath-Swansea Ospreys was one of the four professional rugby union teams from Wales. They competed in the Pro14 and the European Rugby Champions Cup. The team formed as a result of Neath RFC and Swansea RFC combining to create a new merged entity, as part of the new regional structure of Welsh rugby, that began in 2003. They are also affiliated with a number of local semi-professional and amateur clubs, including Welsh Premier Division sides Aberavon RFC, Bridgend Ravens, and original founding clubs Neath and Swansea. The regional area represented by the team has widely become known for rugby purposes as 'Ospreylia'.
Although not a founding member of the Welsh Rugby Union, rugby has been played at Aberavon since before the union's conception. In the 1870s Mansel tinplate works was built in the area, and its proprietors, Col. D. R. David and Sir Sidney Byass encouraged the local workers to form a rugby team.The earliest game being recorded in the Western Mail on 4 November 1878 against a team from Bridgend. Like many early Welsh clubs the teams met at a local hotel, originally the dour Castle Hotel before moving to the more luxurious Hong Kong Hotel.
The Western Mail is a daily newspaper published by Media Wales Ltd in Cardiff, Wales owned by the UK's largest newspaper company, Trinity Mirror. The Sunday edition of the newspaper is published under the title Wales on Sunday.
In 1882 Aberavon took part in the South Wales Challenge Cup, their first competitive game, and in the 1886/87 season Aberavon RFC applied to and were accepted into the WRU. By 1897 Aberavon RFC were able to boast their first capped player, when Dan Jones was selected for Wales to play against England.
Daniel Jones was a Welsh international rugby union scrum-half who played club rugby for Aberavon and international rugby for Wales. He is known as being the first player to represent Aberavon at international level. Jones was a tinplate furnaceman by occupation and lived in Taibach all his life.
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.
In 1907 Aberavon RFC moved to the Central Athletic Ground and in 1913 Miss Emily Charlotte Talbot gave exclusive rights to the club to use the pitch and granted them a lease for 39 years, giving needed stability. An indicator of Aberavon's growing success occurred in 1908, when a joint Neath/Aberavon team was chosen as one of the teams to face the first touring Australian side.The match turned out to be an ill played affair with poor discipline on all sides, the Wallabies eventually won the game 15-0.
Neath Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union club which plays in the Welsh Premier Division. The club's home ground is The Gnoll, Neath. The first team is known as the All Blacks because of the team colours: black with only a white cross pattée as an emblem. Neath RFC is the oldest rugby club in Wales, having been formed in 1871. They are feeder club to the Ospreys regional team.
The Australia national rugby union team, nicknamed the Wallabies, is controlled by Rugby Australia. The team first played at Sydney in 1899, winning their first test match against the touring British Isles team.
In 1914 following the outbreak of World War I, the committee of Aberavon RFC decided that rugby football should cease until the end of hostilities. During the war years their ground was sectioned off to be made into allotments to help the war effort.
World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.
In 1921 the Central Athletic Ground was relaid and a stand erected; Aberavon RFC returned to their home ground. During the 1920/21 season, W.H. Taylor of The Evening Post, dubbed the club The Wizards of the West. The name stuck and was shortened sometimes to 'The Welsh Wizards' or just 'The Wizards', the nickname stays with the club to this day.
In 1932 Aberavon Supporters Club reformed, after an initial attempt failed in 1920, and by 1932 they had begun producing the first official match programme. 1935 saw The Central Athletic ground being renamed the Talbot Athletic Ground.
In 1952 Aberavon RFC changed their shirt colours for the final time to red and black hoops; and later that year succeeded in becoming the absolute owners of the Talbot Athletic ground. The expansion of the local steel works in the 1950s also aided in bringing new enthusiasts to the area and this was reflected in one of Aberavon RFC's most successful periods.
Twice in the 1970s Aberavon reached the final of the WRU Challenge Cup. On both occasions, in 1974 and 1975, the club lost by a slight margin to the tournament's most successful team Llanelli. In 1976 Aberavon played the Argentina national team which toured Wales and England and lost by 18 points to 6.However,in the same season they defeated the touring Italian national team.
In 1988 disagreement between leading players and the club's committee over sponsorship issues and more generally the style and structure of the club's management escalated into a bitter dispute that ended with the majority of the previous season's squad leaving the club. As a result, Aberavon struggled for much of the following season, although they did upset the odds by defeating a touring Western Samoan team by 22 points to 11 on 26 October 1988. The poor results arising from this situation, however, led to the club being streamed into the second tier when the Welsh Rugby Union introduced a league system in 1990, and despite subsequently winning promotion to the top tier, they were never really able to sustain the position for any length of time.
When rugby union turned professional in the mid-1990s, it quickly became clear that Aberavon RFC had neither the financial resources nor the ambition, at least at committee level, to seek a return to the upper echelon of the Welsh club game, instead appearing to settle for a regular position in the second tier, much to the frustration of their loyal supporter base. Financial difficulties encountered by several Welsh clubs, most notably by neighbours and great rivals Neath who went bust on at least two occasion (only to be "bailed out" by the WRU and a team of local businessmen), served only to reinforce this cautious approach until the realization that in such circumstances club committee members may find themselves liable for uncleared debts. This in turn led to the club being incorporated as a limited company run by a board of directors, which was essentially what the players were seeking in 1988. With a management structure more aligned to the professional era now in place, there followed a highly successful period under coach Chris O'Callaghan (who had been one of those players to have left the club in frustration twelve years earlier, and who had been approached by the club's committee in November 1999 to take the helm following a string of disastrous results), but promotion to the game's top tier was then repeatedly blocked by successive rule changes made by the Welsh Rugby Union (on one occasion a matter of a few weeks before the season ended), until the game in Wales was restructured in 2003, at which point Aberavon RFC found itself frustratingly outside looking in as the new professional "regions" were set up.
In May 2002 Aberavon and Pontypool finished at the top of Division 1 on the same number of league points and the same number of tries but the Wizards took the title on a better for/against points ratio. Aberavon then faced a two-legged play-off with Caerphilly, who had been relegated from the Premier Division. Aberavon lost the play-off (66-27 on aggregate) and remained in Division 1 for the 2002/3 season. The play-off was scrapped after this season.
In May 2003, the same scenario as the previous season occurred with both Pontypool and Aberavon locked in a two horse race for the title. Due to the clubs' original January fixture being rearranged, the league title would be decided in a winner-takes-all clash at the Talbot Athletic Ground on 13 May 2003. Aberavon were defeated 40-12. They finished the 2002/3 season as Division 1 runners up after winning the championship the previous two seasons.
Since then the club has gradually established a good working relationship with the Ospreys regional team, with O'Callaghan eventually stepping down from the coaching role in 2004 to be succeeded by Kevin Hopkins, who in turn was succeeded by current incumbent Simon King, and currently working with the region in the development of talented young players.
Small red toy wizards adorn the tops of the rugby posts at their ground, and the figure of a wizard has adorned the players' kit as the club's emblem since the mid-1970s. One theory of the nickname 'The Wizards' is thought to have been based on the many workers who came to Port Talbot in the 19th century from the Carmarthen area, strongly associated with the legendary wizard Merlin. So many of them lived in one street that it was named 'Carmarthen Row'; Talbot Athletic Ground was built near Carmarthen Row. The more generally accepted view, however, is that the nickname was coined by South Wales Evening Post reporter Bill Taylor during the 1920s, when he dubbed the highly successful Aberavon team of that era "The Wizards of the West".
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
The below list contains players that have represented Aberavon and have been capped at international level.
Since the restructuring of the game in Wales, the route for club players to gain international honours is via the game's professional tier, therefore it is unlikely that any future player will be selected for international rugby directly from the club. However, in recent years representative honours have come in the form of invitations to play for the world-famous Barbarians FC. In 2006 Richard Morris was called up to represent the Barbarians in the annual Remembrance Match, scoring the first and last tries in a 33-25 victory. Two years later it was the turn of lock Chris Gittins to represent the Wizards in the same fixture in a 33-14 victory.
|19081||15 October||Loss||0-15||1908–09 Australia rugby union tour of Britain|
|19311||28 November||Loss||3-8||1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour|
|19351||14 December||Loss||3-13||1935-36 New Zealand tour|
|19471||25 October||Loss||9-19||1947-48 Australia tour|
|19511||17 November||Loss||0-22||1951–52 South Africa rugby union tour|
|19541||23 January||Loss||5-11||1953–54 New Zealand tour|
|19571||28 December||Loss||3-5||1957–58 Australia tour|
|19731||24 January||Loss||3-43||1972-73 New Zealand tour|
|1976||6 October||Loss||6-18||1976 Argentina tour of Wales and England|
|1976||1 November||Win||13-4||1976 Italy rugby union tour of Britain|
|1982||9 November||Loss||6-34||1982 New Zealand Māori rugby union tour of Wales|
|1988||26 October||Win||21-11||1988 Samoa rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland|
1 These matches were played by a joint Neath/Aberavon team.
Mountain Ash RFC is a Welsh rugby union team from the town of Mountain Ash, in the Cynon Valley, South Wales. Mountain Ash RFC is a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and is a feeder club for the Cardiff Blues.
Swansea Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team which plays in the Welsh Premiership. The club play at St Helen's Rugby and Cricket Ground in Swansea and are also known as The Whites, in reference to their home kit colours. The club is a feeder club to the Ospreys regional team.
Pontypool Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team based in the town of Pontypool. They play in the WRU Championship and due to the regionalisation of Welsh rugby in 2003 Pontypool RFC is now a feeder club to The Dragons regional team. Pontypool play their home matches at Pontypool Park. Their traditional home kit is Red, White and Black hooped shirt and socks with white shorts, although they did gradually shift to wearing black shorts post-2003.
Carmarthen Quins Rugby Football Club are one of two Welsh rugby union clubs based in Carmarthen in West Wales, the other being Carmarthen Athletic.
Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club is a Welsh Rugby Union Club based in the town of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, South Wales.
Newbridge RFC is a Welsh Rugby Union club based in Newbridge, Caerphilly in South Wales. Newbridge RFC was formed in 1888 and joined the WRU in 1911. They play in the WRU National Championship and are a feeder club for the Dragons region.
Treherbert Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team based in Tynewydd in the Rhondda Valley. Treherbert RFC play home games in red shirts with black shorts and black socks. Today, Treherbert RFC plays in the Welsh Rugby Union Division Four South East league and are a feeder club for Cardiff Blues.
Merthyr RFC is a Welsh rugby union club based in Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales. Merthyr RFC are members of the Welsh Rugby Union, playing in the Principality Premiership, and are a feeder club for the Cardiff Blues.
Llandeilo Rugby Football Club is a rugby union team from the town of Llandeilo, in Carmarthenshire, west Wales. The club is a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and is a feeder club for the Scarlets.
Blaina Rugby Football Club are a Welsh rugby union club based in Blaina in the county borough of Blaenau Gwent in Wales. They presently play in the Welsh Rugby Union Division Three East league and are a feeder club for the Newport Gwent Dragons.
Llandaff Rugby Football Club is a rugby union club based in Llandaff, a district of Cardiff in Wales. They presently play in the Welsh Rugby Union Division Four East.
Penygraig Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team based in Penygraig, Wales. Penygraig RFC formed in 1877, one of the earlier rugby clubs to emerge, and by the 1890s were a strong voice in the Welsh Rugby Union, one of four clubs from the Rhondda Valley that held WRU representation.
Treorchy Rugby Football Club is a rugby union team from the village of Treorchy, in the Rhondda Valley, Wales. They formed in 1886 and by 1891 were a strong voice in the Welsh Football Union and were playing in the Rhondda Division.
Lampeter Town Rugby Football Club is a rugby union team from the town of Lampeter, West Wales. The club is a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and is a feeder club for the Llanelli Scarlets.
Abercarn Rugby Football Club are a Welsh rugby union club based in Abercarn near the city of Newport. They currently play in the Welsh Rugby Union Division 3 having been relegated in two consecutive seasons; from Division 3 East in 2007 and Division 4 East in 2008. The club then immediately gained promotion back to Division 4 East in 2009 and then gained promotion back to Div 3 in 2012, winning the Swalec Bowl in 2010 along the way. Abercarn RFC is a feeder club for the Newport Gwent Dragons.
Aberavon Green Stars Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team based in Aberavon, Wales, UK. The club is a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and is a feeder club for the Ospreys. The club was formed by an Irish community and to this day the team keeps a visible and purposeful connection to their Irish roots, seen in the club's name, club house, badge and nickname, The Fighting Irish.
David Onllwyn Brace was a Welsh international scrum-half who played club rugby for Newport and Aberavon. He won nine caps for Wales and would captain the team twice in the early 1960s. Brace was an exciting, unorthodox scrum-half, who epitomised the Welsh flair scrum-half, though his uneven international appearances point towards unhappiness in his match play from the Welsh selectors.
Corus Rugby Football Club was a Welsh rugby union clubs based in Port Talbot. It is now known as Tata Steel RFC, the club is a member of the Welsh Rugby Union and is a feeder club for the Ospreys.
Leonard Watkins was a Welsh international rugby union half-back who played club rugby for Cardiff Rugby Football Club and international rugby for Wales. He won just a single game for Wales when he was selected for the first Welsh rugby international.