Rugby in the town of Neath  -  World Rugby Museum Home

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Football in it's ancient forms has existed as far back as the Roman occupation. 'Harpastum' was a carrying and scrummaging game played by the Roman legionaries in the garrison of Caerleon and possibly here at Nidum (the Roman name for Neath). The Welsh form of football was known as Cnapan and was played between villages or parishes, any number of players could take part, up to 2000 at a time, some on horseback. Pembrokeshire were the heartlands for Cnapan but matches are known to have taken place as far north as Dolgellau. The last recorded Cnapan type football match in Wales was here in Neath on Shrove Tuesday 1884, three years after the formation of the Welsh Football Union.



The South Wales Football Club/Union was the predecessor of the Welsh Rugby Union. More on this organisation soon !!!!  





The Castle Hotel in Neath is the birth place of the Welsh Rugby Union..............

 however the Neath club were not present at the meeting and do not appear as founder members of the WRU, Smith and Williams in their Welsh history go on to explain why, 

"There was one club however a leading club in Welsh rugby, which was quite strikingly conspicuous by its non-attendance at the Castle Hotel. Distance or communication difficulties can hardly have explained its absence, for that club was Neath itself. The moves culminating in the formation of the W.R.U. had not merely taken the wind out of the sails of the S.W.F.U. The tacit involvement of the other clubs in these manoeuvres meant that the crew had deserted it as well. There were just two people left aboard the Marie Celeste of the old union, secretary Sam Clarke and president John Llewelyn. Both were from Neath. Smarting from the indignity of other clubs’ collusion with Mullock, Neath declined to attend the foundation meeting which was taking place on its own door step. Clarke, in particular, quite understandably had no intention of lifting a finger to dig a pit into which he was invited to jump. But the wound soon healed: Neath were mollified by being awarded the final trial of October 1881; Clarke would be awarded two international caps by the Union which had deposed him; and Llewellyn would in time become it's President. Neath did not compete for the cup in the 1881-2 season, but re-entered the lists in 1882-3, and at the end of that season D.J. Price of Neath became a western district representative on the W.R.U. match committee. From 1883, Neath never failed to be represented at Union meetings, and in the persons of Walter Rees and Eric Evans, would make the greatest individual club contribution in the history of the W.R.U. by monopolizing the secretaryship from 1896 to 1955." 

(text from Smith & Williams - Fields of Praise)  



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First Day Cover celebrating the centenary of the Welsh Rugby Union stamp issue, postmarked Neath.





Our earliest Welsh ticket is dated 1903, printed by the Neath Printing Co, situated just behind the market in Neath, a short walk from Walter Rees' home. presumably this cut down on the cost of delivery and should any problems occur Walter was only a stone's throw away. The Neath Printing Co held the contract to print Welsh tickets even up until the late 1980s. Nearly 40 years on, Walter Rees' influence is still in evidence in Welsh rugby.



TK - E v W 1903.jpg (63397 bytes) TK - E v W 26.jpg (60092 bytes) TK - NSW v W 27.jpg (54474 bytes) TK - F v W 29.jpg (51317 bytes) TK - E v W 30.jpg (49769 bytes) TK - S v W 31.jpg (54561 bytes)

Wales v England at Swansea

Jehodia Hodges scored 3 tries in a 21 - 5 victory (WRM-0239)


Wales v England

3 - 3 draw at the Arms park  (WRM-0240)


Wales v Waratahs

press ticket - Wales lost 18 - 8  (WRM-0262)


First French victory over Wales   (WRM-0246)



11- 3 loss against the English   (WRM-0241)



Old Internationals ticket, a 13 - 8 win for Wales    (WRM-0255)



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A dropped goal by Ronnie Boon helped Wales to this first win over England for 10 years  (WRM-0245)


Another great victory over the All Blacks

13 - 12   (WRM-0251)



The gates were closed 2 hours before kick off, the ground was full, the crowd rushed the gates and stormed into the ground.   (WRM-0259)



seats inside the ropes

v Ireland 1938 at Swansea 




Elvet Jones, top try scorer on the 1938 Lions tour made his debut for Wales in this 11-3 welsh victory  (WRM-0261)


Wales v NZ Kiwis   (WRM-0260)


TK - NZ v W 53.jpg (66918 bytes) TK - S v W 54.jpg (54569 bytes) TK - W XV v I XV 57.jpg (48841 bytes) TK - W v I 59.jpg (62760 bytes) TK - W v S A 60.jpg (45974 bytes) TK - W v NZ 63.jpg (49928 bytes)

last victory over the All Blacks in 1953,  13 - 8   (WRM-0252)


last international at St Helen's Swansea, postponed match played on 10th April  (WRM-0321)


v International XV - celebrating the Empire Games, held at the Arms Park one year later in 1958   (WRM-0250)


v Ireland 1959

8 - 6 victory to Wales  (WRM-0249)


Press messenger - this ticket will only admit a boy - v South Africa 1960, a day before the Arms Park was flooded  (WRM-0258)


Press Box

Terry Price a Llanelli schoolboy makes his debut 

v New Zealand 1963   (WRM-0253)


TK - W v E 65.jpg (79838 bytes) TK - W v A 66.jpg (59034 bytes) TK - W v Presidents R.F.jpg (67268 bytes) TK - W v S 70.jpg (64861 bytes) TK - B v NZ 73.jpg (56533 bytes) TK - Lions v The Rest 86.jpg (68516 bytes)

North Enclosure ticket 5/- (25p)

v England 1965

Stuart Watkins scores 2 tries in 14-3 victory  (WRM-0242)


first Australian victory over Wales,  international debut for Barry John (WRM-0237)


opening of the new Cardiff Arms Park, ticket for the NEW NORTH STAND (WRM-0254)


Start of the 1970s, first five nations match in the NEW NORTH ENCLOSURE - Gareth Edwards commented "The singing of the crowd was tremendous, it inspired every one of us. (WRM-0257)


Phil Bennett started it, Gareth Edwards finished it, the greatest try ever scored, this is on the half way line on that side of the field.   (WRM-0235)


Lions v Rest of the World. First official Lions match on British soil.   (WRM-0236)

A printer's block and ticket from the late 1980's   (WRM-0336)


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New floodlights for this night time international against France   (WRM-0247)


W v E 1993 - Ieuan Evans touched down or this great victory. (WRM-0243)


19,000 saw Wales' first victory over the Barbarians 31-10  (WRM-0238)


last international at the Arms Park (WRM-0244)


Rugby in the town of Neath  -  World Rugby Museum Home