Neath RFC

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Neath RFC
Maltese-cross-high-res-NEATH-RFC-LARGE TEXT-250h.jpg
Full nameNeath Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s)Welsh All Blacks
Founded1871 [1] :24
Location Neath, Wales
Ground(s) The Gnoll (Capacity: 7,500)
Coach(es)Patrick Horgan (Coach), Forwards Coach: Andy Howell
Captain(s)Aaron Bramwell
League(s) WRU Championship
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
Team kit
Official website

Neath Rugby Football Club (Welsh : Clwb Rygbi Castell-Nedd) is a Welsh rugby union club which plays in the WRU Championship. The club's home ground is The Gnoll, Neath. The 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.



Early history

The Gnoll. Home of Neath RFC The Gnoll - Neath RFC - geograph-2277123.jpg
The Gnoll. Home of Neath RFC

Neath Rugby Football club was established in 1871 by a consortium of ten enthusiasts, their captain at the time, T. P. Whittington would later play international rugby for Scotland in 1873. [1] :24

The club's nickname, 'The Welsh All Blacks', comes from their iconic strip of black jersey, shorts and socks with a white cross pattée. The origin of the team colours is not known for sure. Originally the club's players represented the team in various dark kits and the Cross pattée was introduced by one of their players, thought to have been E.C. Moxham, "to break the monotony". It is believed that the strip was later switched to the pure black kit as a mark of respect to player Dick Gordon, who died from injuries sustained on the field of play against Bridgend RFC in 1880.

On 12 June 1881, eleven teams met in the Castle Hotel, Neath to form what would be accepted as a Welsh rugby union. The founding clubs of the WFU (Welsh Football Union), as it was originally known, were Swansea C & FC, Pontypool RFC, Newport RFC, Merthyr RFC, Llanelli RFC, Bangor RFC, Brecon RFC, Cardiff RFC, Lampeter College, Llandovery College and Llandeilo RFC. [1] :24, 41 Strangely Neath RFC was not recorded as being present, even though the meeting took place in the town. It is unknown if this was an oversight by the committee to record the presence of the club, or if Neath RFC did not actually attend. One theory put forward is that the president, John Llewellyn and secretary, Sam Clark of the South Wales Football Union were both Neath men. By attending this new union they would be destroying the SWFU and therefore their own influence in the game. These wounds would soon heal and Neath joined the newly formed WFU in the 1882–83 season and would eventually become pivotal in the union's development, monopolizing the secretaryship from 1896 to 1955. [1] :44–45 Sam Clark would in turn become the first Welsh international from Neath RFC, playing in the second Wales game on 28 January 1882. In December 1882 it was decided to amalgamate Neath FC and Neath Abbey FC. [2]

In 1887/88 Neath RFC undertook their first tour of the northern English clubs, including Hartlepool, Manningham and Wortley. The next season Neath played host to Widnes on Christmas Day before undertaking a further northern tour taking on a further five teams in six days. During the 1890/91 season a South West England tour was introduced, which would later become an annual fixture facing clubs such as Bristol and London Welsh.

Martyn Davies holds a very special place in Welsh rugby history because he was captain of Neath in the club's centenary year of 1971/72 and it was he who became the first captain to hold aloft the Welsh Cup and to then carry it on its now customary "lap of honour" around the old Cardiff Arms Park.

2008/09 season

Their 2008/09 cup winning season, in which they claimed a victory over Llanelli at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. This was the first year since the cup name changed from Konica Minolta Cup to Swalec Cup.

2007/08 season

Their 2007/08 championship season, their fourth in succession, was overshadowed by the death of scrum-half of Gareth Jones, on 16 June 2008. Jones had been injured in a match against Cardiff RFC on 20 April. [3]

Club records

Neath RFC hold the world record for the number of points (1,917) and tries (345) accumulated in one season (47 Games). [4] This record was set during the 1988/89 season, it is also worth noting that a try was worth 4 points at the time the record was broken.

The record for the most tries scored in a game in the post-regional era (post 2002) is held by Richard Smith. In January 2010 against Kidwelly RFC Smith scored 7 tries. The pre-regional record of 6 tries is jointly held by Howie Jones (v Aberavon 1928/29), W.D. Williams (v B.P.Llandarcy 1949/50), Keith Maddocks (v Ebbw Vale 1956/57), Alan Edmunds (v Cross Keys 1989/90).

Organisation and finance

The company that runs Neath RFC is Neath Rugby Ltd.

The key lines from the Geraint Hawkes disqualification legal judgement Geraint Hawkes disqualification judgement, High Court, June 2015.jpg
The key lines from the Geraint Hawkes disqualification legal judgement

On 4 June 2015, Geraint Hawkes (Current chairman of Neath RFC and 50% owner of the club) was found to be "unfit to be concerned in the management of a company" by His Honour Judge Keyser Q.C. sitting as a Judge of the High Court (see para 68 of the judgement document) [5] He also decided that the evidence given by Hawkes was "deliberately false" (para 48 - see image).

On 1 July 2015 the judge confirmed the length of the disqualification, as reported by the BBC: "The owner of Neath RFC and his mother have been banned from being company directors for 10 years after failing to declare more than £1.5m in VAT. Geraint Hawkes, 48, and Janis Hawkes, 75, were given the ban at a hearing in Cardiff on Wednesday. Judge Andrew Keyser QC said the pair had been involved in a "serious case" of unpaid VAT. The decision followed a hearing in the High Court Chancery Division sitting in Cardiff last month." [6]

In an effort to generate more income at their home stadium The Gnoll, the club announced in late 2008, plans to share it with the town's football club Neath Athletic. [7] This football team ceased trading at the end of the 2011-12 season due to financial difficulties. [8]

Jardine Norton Ltd became the owners of Neath Rugby Ltd in January 2019. [9]

Club honours

Players and coaches

Current squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Ashleigh James Hooker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Ronny Palumbo Fly-half Flag of Australia (converted).svg Australia
Andy Littlehales Hooker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Gerwyn Price Hooker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Jimmy Richards Hooker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Ross Davies Prop Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Nicky Downs Prop Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Martin Jones Prop Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Emyr Wyn Lewis Prop Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Johnny Thomas Prop Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Neil Edwards Lock Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Euros Evans Lock Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Haydn Pugh Lock Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Ciaran Ruddock Lock IRFU flag.svg Ireland
John Bowd Flanker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Andrew Llewellyn Flanker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Lee Evans Flanker Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Gareth Gravell Number 8 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Nathan Bonner-Evans Number 8 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Nathan Thomas Number 8 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Kevin Farrell Scrum-half Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand
Gareth James Scrum-half Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Matty James Fly-half Flag of New Zealand.svg New Zealand
Stephen Thomas Centre Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
David Evans Wing Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Wyll Black Wing Flag of the United States.svg United States
Dafydd Howells Wing Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Kevin James Wing Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Kristian Phillips Wing Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Liam Powell Wing Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Gareth King Fullback Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Wayne Mitchell Fullback Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales
Kevin Morgan Fullback Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Wales

Notable former players

See also Category:Neath RFC players

These players have represented Neath and have been capped at international level:


Games played against international opposition

1908115 OctoberFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Loss0–15 1908 Australian tour of the British Isles [1] :187 [10]
191219 DecemberFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Loss3–8 1912-13 South Africa rugby union tour
1931128 NovemberFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Loss3-8 1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour
1935114 DecemberFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Loss3-13 1935-36 New Zealand tour
1947125 OctoberFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Loss9-19 1947-48 Australia tour
1951117 NovemberFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Loss0-22 1951–52 South Africa rugby union tour
1954123 JanuaryFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Loss5-11 1953–54 New Zealand tour
1957128 DecemberFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Loss3-5 1957–58 Australia tour
19705 September Flag of Germany.svg West GermanyWin28–0
1973124 JanuaryFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Loss3-43 1972-73 New Zealand tour
198315 OctoberFlag of Japan.svg  Japan Draw21-21 1983 Japan rugby union tour of Wales [11]
198731 OctoberFlag of the United States.svg  United States Loss6–15 1987 United States rugby union tour of Wales [12]
198925 OctoberFlag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Loss15-26 1989 New Zealand tour [13]
199211 NovemberFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Loss8-161992 Australia tour
19942 NovemberFlag of South Africa.svg  South Africa Loss13–16 1994-95 South Africa rugby union tour [14]
199525 OctoberFlag of Fiji.svg  Fiji Win30–221995 Fiji tour of Wales [15]
19974 JanuaryFlag of the United States.svg  United States Win39-15 1997 United States tour of Wales
200121 NovemberFlag of Uruguay.svg  Uruguay Win29-32001 Uruguay rugby union tour of Wales

1 All these matches were played by a joint Neath/Aberavon team.

Neath Rugby Supporters Club

The Supporters Club was restarted at the end of the 2012–13 season, with the aim of providing a link between the fans and the club. [16] The 2013–14 season saw the first Neath Supporters Hall of Fame, an event intended to take place every season.

2014 inductees: TP Whittington, Brian Williams, Brian Thomas, Shane Williams, Steve Powell and Dai Morris

2015 inductees: Rees Stephens, Martyn Davies, Ron Waldron, Kevin Phillips and Gareth Llewellyn

Related Research Articles

Ospreys (rugby union)

The Ospreys, formerly the Neath-Swansea Ospreys is one of the four professional rugby union teams from Wales. They compete 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'.

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Rugby union in Wales

Rugby union in Wales is the national sport and is considered a large part of national culture. Rugby union is thought to have reached Wales in the 1850s, with the national body, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) being formed in 1881. Wales are considered to be one of the most successful national sides in Rugby Union, having won the most Six Nations Championships, as well as having reached 3 World Cup semi finals in 1987, 2011 and 2019, having finished 3rd in the inaugural competition and having finished 4th in 2011 in a repeat of the first third place play-off. The Welsh team of the 1970s is considered to be arguably the greatest national team of all time, prompting many experts in the game to suggest that had the Rugby World Cup existed during this period, Wales would be amongst the list of World Cup winners. Following their fourth-place finish in the latest World Cup, they are ranked 4th in the world, behind England but ahead of Ireland.

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The Gnoll

The Gnoll in Neath, Wales is a sports ground, with a capacity of 6,000. It is used primarily for rugby union and rugby league, although it has also been used previously for association football and cricket. The stadium has hosted international rugby matches, with it being the home ground of the Wales women's national rugby union team, and men's matches included one during the 2013 Rugby League World Cup against the Cook Islands.

Brian Richard Williams was a Welsh international rugby union player.

Lyn Jones is a former Wales international rugby union player, and now works as a coach. A flanker, Jones has experience at various different levels of the game, both as a player and a coach. Jones played most of his playing career for Neath RFC. He started his coaching career at the same club. He has coached professional clubs in Wales and England, and since 2018 has been head coach of the Russian national rugby union team.

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Tom Arthur Rugby player

Tom Arthur was a Welsh international rugby union lock who played club rugby for Neath and was capped 18 times for Wales. A tough second row forward with a strong physique, Arthur was often criticised for being over-vigorous. Though his style of play was fairly typical for Welsh rugby at the time.

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Paul Morgan was a Welsh professional rugby union and rugby league footballer, rugby union coach and cricketer, born in Pencoed. He played club level rugby union (RU) for Pencoed RFC, London Welsh RFC, Whitland RFC, Aberavon RFC, Llanharan RFC, Bridgend Ravens, Maesteg RFC, as a Centre, i.e. number 12 or 13, representative level rugby league (RL) for Wales, and at club level for Aberavon Fighting Irish, Bridgend Blue Bulls, Celtic Crusaders, as a wing, or centre, i.e. number 2 or 5, or, 3 or 4, coached club level rugby union (RU) for Neath Athletic RFC, and Aberavon Quins RFC. and played cricket for Pencoed Cricket Club (captain).

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  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Smith, Dai; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of praise : the official history of the Welsh Rugby Union, 1881–1981. Cardiff: University of Wales Press on behalf of the Welsh Rugby Union. ISBN   0708307663. OCLC   7176127.
  3. BBC News (16 June 2008). "Scrum-half dies after neck injury". BBC . Retrieved 16 June 2008.
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  8. "Neath FC wound up at High Court". BBC News. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
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  15. "Fiji Rugby". Archived from the original on 11 July 2011. Retrieved 23 June 2008.

Neath RFC: 1871–1945 – Mike Price ( ISBN   0-7524-2709-1, October 2002) Neath RFC: 1945–1996 – Mike Price ( ISBN   0-7524-3106-4, March 2004)