Cardiff Rugby Football Club - A History

Cardiff Rugby Football Club was founded in 1876 following at meeting at Swiss Hall, Queen St the amalgamation of two clubs, Glamorgan and Cardiff Wanderers, was agreed. The first competitive game was played against Newport at Wentloog Marshes on 2nd December of that year. The first home fixtures were played at Sophia Gardens. However, the club soon relocated to its famous ground at Cardiff Arms Park, named after the local Cardiff Arms public house and on the grounds of the old Cardiff Hotel.

Initially the club strip was black with a skull and crossed-bones on the front, but when parents complained about the inappropriate emblem, a new strip was chosen. A Cambridge college student from the area, Thomas Williams Rees, had worn this new strip in Cardiff and the colours of (Cambridge) Blue & Black were adopted and continue to be worn to this this day.

 

Cardiff’s early playing years were a little lean but they soon started beating local teams and visitors from further a field, gaining a reputation for fast running open rugby. It was in fact Cardiff that first played with seven ‘backs’ a move that was somewhat forced on them when travelling with no ’reserve’ forwards. It proved so successful that it was adopted for the following game and subsequently by all other teams. Cardiff also gained IRB recognition in 2010 when the initiator - Frank Hancock and the club were inducted into the IRB hall of fame. .One of only two clubs who have been given that honour

In 1881 the first Welsh international match took place, this team included four players from Cardiff Ruby Football club, and since then Cardiff have produced countless internationals and British Lions players. Immortals such as Gwyn Nicholls, Rhys Gabe, Percy Bush, Wilfred Wooller, Dr Jack Matthews, Bleddyn Williams, Cliff Morgan, Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards, John Scott, Rob Howley and David Young have all played in Blue and Black through the ages, it is no surprise that Cardiff has provided more players to the Welsh national team and British Isles than any other club in Wales. Indeed the team still produces welsh internationals, Harry Robinson, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny are amonst the latest Welsh players to have started their senior careers at Cardiff RFC 

team still produces welsh internationals, Harry Robinson, Jamie Roberts, Bradley Davies, Alex Cuthbert and Leigh Halfpenny are amonst the latest Welsh players to have started their senior careers at Cardiff RFC

 

Cardiff’s iconic home - The Arms Park has seen many developments; originally home to both Cardiff cricket and rugby matches, the venue is among the most famous in the world. In 1912 the first stand was erected and since that time several stands and terraces have stood on the famous ground. Until 1969 Cardiff and Wales played their home matches on the same pitch but a sea change came in the 1969-70 season. As a result of an agreement between Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union, the National Ground project established a new stadium for international matches with club rugby fixtures switched to the original cricket ground on the Arms Park site, still the current site for Cardiff RFC. In 1999 the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, as it was officially known, was replaced by the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff Rugby Football Club, however, continues to play at Cardiff Arms Park.

The club has welcomed several touring sides to the Arms Park, the first being the 1888 New Zealand Maoris, and has beaten all the major touring teams over its long history. Australia have never beaten Cardiff RFC in six attempts. In 2003 the club celebrated the 50th anniversary of the legendary 8-3 victory over the All Blacks. Captain Bleddyn Williams and the six other survivors of the 1953 team will meet again to toast their historic result. They will also salute the 1907 team that beat the Springboks 17-nil and the six sides between 1908 and 1984 that established an unprecedented that invincible record against the Wallabies.
Domestically Cardiff won the South Wales Challenge Cup on 12th March 1881 against Llanelly (as then spelt). The competition was disbanded shortly afterwards due to persistent problems with the crowd. However, in more recent times, Cardiff were Heineken Cup finalists in 1996, domestic Cup champions on seven occasions, in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1994 and 1997, Welsh League champions in 1995 and won the Welsh/Scottish league title in 2000.
The club’s highest win was 116-0 against Dunvant on 25th March 2000, beating the previous high of 107-3 against Plymouth in 1993. The club’s top try scorer was Steve Ford with 187 tries.

 

In 2003 Regional rugby was introduced to Wales and the professional players started to play in a new team and in a new league. The Cardiff Blues team became the standard bearer for the City’s professional team. That that team moved to the Cardiff City Stadium in Leckwith for five years but returned to the Arms Park at the beginning of the 2012/13 season. Cardiff RFC continued though, forming part of the Welsh pyramid system feeding players into the top level. The formation of the Welsh Premiership in 2003 allowed players an opportunity to showcase themselves to Regional bosses, and several players from Cardiff RFC have gone on to play not only at Regional level but also in internationals and for the British Lions, most notably Leigh Halfpenny and Jamie Roberts, the later being voted man of the series on the 2009 Lions tour.

Cardiff have competed in the Premiership for the last number of years culminating in being crowned Premiership champions in 2008/09.

Club historian Simon Down is current entering all the records of every game into this website. This process will take a few years but it is hoped that this will completed and offer the reader the full statistical information on Cardiff RFC.

Also available are the season reports from every season offer a view of each one back to the very first in 1876/77

Player information is being researched and added, if you have or know anyone who has information pertaining to a Cardiff player please get in touch to enable us to complete all records

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