Neath RFC

Neath RFC
Full name Neath Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s) Welsh All Blacks
The Mourners
Founded 1871[1]
Location Neath, Wales
Ground(s) The Gnoll (Capacity: 7,500)
President Unknown
Coach(es) Patrick Horgan
Captain(s) Gareth Gravell
League(s) Principality Premiership
2010–11 2nd[2]
Team kit
Official website
Neath RFC shop, 13 Old Market Street, Neath

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.


Early history

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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[5] Sam Clark would in turn become the first Welsh international from Neath RFC, playing in the second Wales game on 28 January 1882.

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 mighty 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.[6]

Club records

Neath RFC hold the world record for the number of points (1,917) and tries (345) accumulated in one season (47 Games).[7] 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 and owns 50% of the Ospreys professional side.

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)[8] 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."[9]

In an effort to generate more income at their home stadium The Gnoll, the club announced in 2008, plans to share it with the town's football club Neath Athletic.[10] This football team ceased trading at the end of the 2011-12 season due to financial difficulties.[11]

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.

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

Year Date Opponent Result Score Tour
19081 15 October  Australia Loss 0–15 1908 Australian tour of the British Isles[12][13]
1912 19 December  South Africa Loss 3–8 1912-13 South Africa rugby union tour
19311 28 November  South Africa Loss 3-8 1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour
19351 14 December  New Zealand Loss 3-13 1935-36 New Zealand tour
19471 25 October  Australia Loss 9-19 1947-48 Australia tour
19511 17 November  South Africa Loss 0-22 1951–52 South Africa rugby union tour
19541 23 January  New Zealand Loss 5-11 1953–54 New Zealand tour
19571 28 December  Australia Loss 3-5 1957–58 Australia tour
1970 5 September West Germany West Germany Win 28–0
19731 24 January  New Zealand Loss 3-43 1972-73 New Zealand tour
1983 15 October  Japan Draw 21-21 1983 Japan rugby union tour of Wales[14]
1987 31 October  United States Loss 6–15 1987 United States rugby union tour of Wales[15]
1989 25 October  New Zealand Loss 15-26 1989 New Zealand tour[16]
1992 11 November  Australia Loss 8-16 1992 Australia tour
1994 2 November  South Africa Loss 13–16 1994-95 South Africa rugby union tour[17]
1995 25 October  Fiji Win 30–22 1995 Fiji tour of Wales[18]
1997 4 January  United States Win 39-15 1997 United States tour of Wales

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

Neath Rugby Supporters Club

The Supporters Club was re-started at the end of the 2012-13 season, with the aim of providing a link between the fans and the club.[19] 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


  1. Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981 pp24, David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  2. WRU Official Site - Sourced 28 August 2011
  3. Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981 pp24, David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  4. Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981 pp24, David Smith pp41, Gareth Williams (1980) ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  5. Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981 pp44-45, David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  6. BBC News (2008-06-16). "Scrum-half dies after neck injury". BBC. Retrieved 2008-06-16.
  7. The 1993 Guinness Book of Records ISBN 0-85112-978-1
  10. BBC News (16 May 2008). "Rugby stadium makes soccer space". BBC. Retrieved 12 May 2008.
  11. "Neath FC wound up at High Court". BBC News. 28 May 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
  12. Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881–1981, David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp187 ISBN 0-7083-0766-3
  13. Rugby Relics website
  14. Jones, Stephen (1984). Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1984–85. Queen Anne Press. p. 50. ISBN 0-356-10448-6.
  15. Jones, Stephen (1988). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1988–89. Queen Anne Press. pp. 30–32. ISBN 0-356-15884-5.
  18. Fiji Rugby

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)

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