Ebbw Vale RFC

For the defunct rugby league club, see Ebbw Vale RLFC.
Ebbw Vale RFC
Full name Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s) The Steelmen
Founded 1879[1]
Location Ebbw Vale, Wales
Ground(s) Eugene Cross Park (Capacity: 8,000)
Coach(es) Ceri Jones, Nigel Davies, Lewis Roberts, Nick Wakely
Captain(s) Damien Hudd
League(s) WRU Championship
2011/12 Champions (WRU Division One East)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Ebbw Vale Rugby Football Club is a Welsh Rugby Union Club based in the town of Ebbw Vale, Blaenau Gwent, South Wales. The club played in the WRU Championship and the SWALEC Cup during the 2013-2014 season, winning the league and so gaining promotion to the Welsh Premiership - the league below regional rugby in Wales. It also acts as a feeder club for the Newport Gwent Dragons.[2]


Evidence of rugby union being played in Ebbw Vale was noted around 1879. Ebbw Vale RFC applied for and achieved Welsh Rugby Union (then known as the Welsh Football Union) membership between 1893 and 1894.[3]

In 1907, the committee of Ebbw Vale rugby club voted 63-20 to switch from amateur rugby union to professional rugby league. Deals were made with the Northern Union, and on 26 July 1907 Ebbw Vale RFC became Ebbw Vale RLFC.[4] The club, its players and members were all suspended from rugby union activities by the Welsh Rugby Union, though after Ebbw Vale RLFC collapsed in 1912, Ebbw Vale were readmitted as a union team after World War I.[5]

In 1927 due to falling gate receipts, caused by the increasing attraction of rival sports such as football, Ebbw Vale staged a rugby league game on their pitch, the Welfare Ground. The WRU reacted strongly and threatened Ebbw Vale RFC with expulsion from the league. This was seen by many as an overly aggressive stance to a club that was desperate for aid not sanctions. By 1932 the gate at Ebbw Vale rarely reached twenty shillings, despite a catchment area population of 40,000. The club was forced to resort to public subscriptions.[6]

Rugby union continued in Ebbw Vale during World War II due to the vital services provided by the steel and coal industry and Ebbw Vale was undefeated in 1940/1941. But by the mid 1950s Ebbw Vale RFC was once again becoming a prosperous club. Although seen as one of the most successful clubs on and off the playing field throughout the 1950s, Ebbw Vale was under-represented in the Welsh national team.[7] Around the same time joint teams drawn from Ebbw Vale and neighbours Abertillery played New Zealand, Australia and South Africa international touring sides. These games were usually close encounters but with only one win - against Australia in 1958. In the 60/61 season the Athletic side, captained by Ken Cameron, lost only one game. Their players were a consistent source of supply to the 1st XV. The club has the dubious distinction of being on the receiving end of the heaviest defeat in Heineken Cup history going down 108-16 away to Toulouse in 1998 conceding 16 tries in the process. Although Ebbw Vale did have revenge, defeating Toulouse in the return fixture.[8]

In April 2010 the club's relegation to WRU Division One East was confirmed.

In April 2011 Ebbw Vale were crowned WRU Division One East Champions after gaining a bonus point win in their final league game at Bedlinog. In what was a remarkable run-in to the end of the season, Ebbw picked up 44 league points from their final 9 league games (out of a possible 45) to overhaul Newbridge and win the league title at the first attempt.

In April 2012 Ebbw Vale retained the WRU Division One East title with one game in hand, following a 52-0 victory over Tredegar. The season was also marked by a remarkable cup run which saw them defeat Newport, Carmerthen Quins and Swansea, before drawing 19-19 to Cross Keys in the semi-final (Cross Keys subsequently progressed by virtue of tries scored 2-1).

In April 2013 Ebbw Vale were crowned inaugural champions of the newly formed WRU National Championship, pitting the best teams from east and west against one another. In a season that marked the club's third league title win in a row the Steelmen won 23 of 24 league games, breaking the 1000 point barrier in the process.

In April 2014 Ebbw Vale were again crowned champions of the WRU National Championship, this time gaining promotion to the Principality Premiership. They won 25 out of 26 games and amassed another 1000 point season.

Colours and badge

The club colours changed from black and amber to red, white and green in the 1930s. The reason is unclear but a prominent Ebbw Vale player and later administrator, Dai Regan Jones, had played for Leicester RFC in the late 1920s and was a regular soldier in the South Wales Borderers and both Leicester and the SWB wore red, white and green, which could explain the change.

Their home colours of green, white and red represent the colours of the Welsh national flag with the second-choice shirt coloured light blue. The club's badge like many other clubs in Wales has a red dragon on it. The dragon is standing over a golden gate or drawbridge, over the dragons head is a semicircle with the club's motto of Iach Gorff Iach Meddwl. This semicircle is part of a bridge shape which is coloured in the club's and Welsh colours of red, green and white. All of this is incorporated into a shield shape with the club's name Ebbw Vale RFC embroidered on the bottom.

Club's motto

The club's motto is "Iach Gorff Iach Feddwl", the Welsh for "Healthy Body Healthy Mind". The origin of this motto is speculative but this is an old proverb in the Welsh Language.

Current squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Player Position Union
Will Hodnett Fullback Wales Wales
Tom McAloon Fullback Wales Wales
Spencer Cawley Fullback Wales Wales
Wesley Cunliffe Wing Wales Wales
Sion Jones Wing Wales Wales
Luke Davies Wing Wales Wales
David James Wing Wales Wales
Mike Powell Wing Wales Wales
Leighton Bellamore Centre Wales Wales
Jordan Howells Centre Wales Wales
David James Centre Wales Wales
Josh Peace Centre Wales Wales
Jack Flower Centre Wales Wales
Joe Evans Centre Wales Wales
Tom MacPherson Centre Wales Wales
Mike Powell Centre Wales Wales
Ian Smerdon Fly-half Wales Wales
Dan Butler Fly-half Wales Wales
Dan Haymond Fly-half Wales Wales
David Jones Scrum-half Wales Wales
Chris Thomas Scrum-half Wales Wales
Liam Roberts Scrum-half Wales Wales
Player Position Union
Ross Jones Prop Wales Wales
Robert Sevenoaks Prop Wales Wales
John Lavender Prop Wales Wales
Mathew Williams Hooker Wales Wales
Joe Franchi Hooker Wales Wales
Jonny Bowen Hooker Wales Wales
Damien Hudd Lock Wales Wales
Ashley Sweet Lock Wales Wales
Daniel Lewis Lock Wales Wales
Rhys Clarke Lock Wales Wales
Joe Bartlett Lock Wales Wales
Gareth Davies Flanker Wales Wales
Kier Hughes Flanker Wales Wales
Harrison Keddie Flanker Wales Wales
Ronny Kynes Flanker Wales Wales
Cameron Regan Flanker Wales Wales
Gareth Williams Flanker Wales Wales
David Barry Number 8 Wales Wales
Spencer Gibson Number 8 Wales Wales

Club honours

Notable former players

The players listed below have played or coached rugby union or rugby league at international level and have represented or coached Ebbw Vale.

See also Category:Ebbw Vale RFC players
Nationality Name Caps
Wales Allan Bateman 35 International
England Duncan Bell 5 International
Wales Nathan Budgett 12 International
Wales Clive Burgess 9 International
Wales Richie Collins 28 International
Ireland Guy Easterby 28 international
Tonga Kuli Faletau 20 international
Wales John Funnell 2 international
Wales Byron Hayward 2 International
England Simon Hunt 0 International
Wales Deiniol Jones 13 International
Wales Graham Jones 3 International
Wales Kingsley Jones 10 International
Wales Glyn Turner 2 international
Nationality Name Caps
Wales Mark Jones 15 international
Wales Arthur Lewis 11 International
Wales Dan Lydiate 27 International
Wales David Nash 6 International
Wales Graham Powell 2 International
Wales Paul Ringer 8 International
Scotland Arthur Smith 33 International
Wales Richard Smith 1 International
Wales Iestyn Thomas 33 International
Wales Paul Thorburn 37 International
Tonga Josh Taumalolo 31 International
Wales Ian Watkins 10 International
Wales Denzil Williams 36 international

Notable former coaches and management staff

Nationality Name Role
England Alex Codling Head and Forwards Coach
Wales Byron Hayward Head Coach
England Richard Hill Backs Coach
Wales Leigh Jones Head Coach
Wales Lyn Jones Head Coach
Wales Christian Loader Forwards Coach
Wales Rowland Phillips Defence/Head Coach
Wales Mike Ruddock Head Coach

Games played against international opposition

Year Date Opponent Result Score Tour
19531 23 December  New Zealand Loss 3-22 1953-54 New Zealand rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland, France and North America.[9]
19581 8 January  Australia Won 6-5 1957-58 Australia rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland and France
19601 29 November  South Africa Loss 0-3 The 1960 South Africa Tour of UK & France[10]
19631 6 November  New Zealand Loss 0-13 1963-64 New Zealand rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland, France and North America[11]
1979 22 September  Romania Loss 0-12 1979 Romania rugby union tour of Wales[12]
1987 24 October  United States Win 16-14 1987 United States rugby union tour of Wales[13]

1A joint Ebbw Vale and Abertillery side.

External links



  1. Smith (1980) pg. 11
  2. BBC News (8 July 2004). "Wales' regional rugby map". BBC. Retrieved 2008-05-20.
  3. Smith (1980) pg. 101
  4. Lush, Peter; Farrar, Dave (1998). Tries in the Valley: A History of Rugby League in Wales. London: London League Publications. p. 24. ISBN 0-9526064-3-7.
  5. Smith (1980) pg. 180
  6. Smith (1980) pg. 227-268
  7. Smith (1980) pp365
  8. "European Rugby Cup". ERC. Retrieved 2009-03-06.
  9. Newport Gwent Dragons
  10. Newport Gwent Dragons
  11. Newport Gwent Dragons
  12. Jenkins, Vivian (1980). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1980-81. Queen Anne Press. pp. 50–51. ISBN 0-362-02018-3.
  13. Jones, Stephen (1988). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1988-89. Queen Anne Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-356-15884-5.
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