Aberavon RFC


Aberavon RFC

Rugby team
teamname = Aberavon RFC
fullname = Aberavon Rugby Football Club
nickname = Wizards, Welsh Wizards
location = Aberavon, Wales
country

founded = 1876 ["Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1981-82" ed. Vivian Jenkins ISBN 090757405X]
ground = Talbot Athletic Ground
capacity =
president =
coach =
league = Welsh Premier Division
season = 2007-08
position = 6th [ [http://www.wru.co.uk/985_12428.php WRU Official Site - Sourced 18th May 2008] ]
url = www.aberavonwizards.co.uk
pattern_la1=_redborder| pattern_b1=_blackhoops| pattern_ra1=_redborder| leftarm1=000000| body1=FF0000| rightarm1=000000| shorts1=000000| socks1=FF0000

Aberavon RFC is a rugby union club located in the Welsh village of Aberavon. It was founded in 1876 as Afan Football Club, and changed names several times before settling on Aberavon Rugby Football Club.

History

Early history

Although not a founding member of the Welsh Rugby Union rugby has been played at Aberavon since before the union's conception. In the 1870s Mansel tinplate works was built in the area, and its proprieters, Col. D. R. David and Sir Sidney Byass encouraged the local workers to form a rugby team. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp27 ISBN 0708307663] The earliest game being recorded in the Western Mail on the 4th of November 1878 against a team from Bridgend. Like many early Welsh clubs the teams met at a local hotel, originally the dour Castle Hotel before moving to the more luxurious Hong Kong Hotel. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp100 ISBN 0 7083 0766 3]

In 1882 Aberavon took part in the South Wales Challenge Cup, their first competitive game, and in the 1886/87 season Aberavon RFC applied to and were accepted into the WRU. By 1887 Aberavon RFC were able to boast their first capped player, when Dan Jones was selected for Wales to play against England. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp467 ISBN 0708307663]

In 1907 Aberavon RFC moved to the Central Athletic Ground and in 1913 Miss Emily Charlotte Talbot gave exclusive rights to the club to use the pitch and granted them a lease for 39 years, giving needed stability. An indicator of Aberavon's growing success occurred in 1908, when a joint Neath/Aberavon team was chosen as one of the teams to face the first touring Australian side. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp300 ISBN 0708307663] The match turned out to be an ill played affair with poor discipline on all sides, the Wallabies eventually won the game 15-0.

In 1914 following the outbreak of World War I, the committee of Aberavon RFC decided that rugby football should cease until the end of hostilities. During the war years their ground was sectioned off to be made into allotments to help the war effort. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp300 ISBN 0708307663]

1919-1945

In 1921 the Central Athletic Ground was relaid and a stand erected; Aberavon RFC returned to their home ground. During the 1920/21 season, W.H. Taylor of The Evening Post, dubbed the club "The Wizards of the West". The name stuck and was shortened sometimes to 'The Welsh Wizards' or just 'The Wizards', the nickname stays with the club to this day.

In 1932 Aberavon Supporters Club reformed, after an initial attempt failed in 1920, and by 1932 they had begun producing the first official match programme. 1935 saw The Central Athletic ground being renamed the Talbot Athletic Ground.

Post World War II

In 1952 Aberavon RFC changed their shirt colours for the final time to red and black hoops; and later that year succeeded in becoming the absolute owners of the Talbot Athletic ground. The expansion of the local steel works in the 1950s also aided in bringing new enthusiasts to the area and this was reflected in one of Aberavon RFC's most successful periods. ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp27 ISBN 0 7083 0766 3]

Twice in the 1970s Aberavon reached the final of the WRU Challenge Cup. On both occasions, in 1974 and 1975, the club lost by a slight margin to the tournament's most successful team Llanelli. In 1976 Aberavon played the Nrut|Argentina national team which toured Wales and England and lost by 18 points to 6 [cite book |last=Jenkins |first=Vivian |authorlink=Vivian Jenkins|editor= |title=Rothmans Rugby Yearbook 1977-78|year=1977 |month= |publisher=Macdonald and Jane's |isbn= 0354090208|pages=p52-53] .

Trivia

Small red toy wizards adorn the tops of the rugby posts at their ground. One theory of the nickname 'The Wizards' is thought to have been based on the many workers who came to Port Talbot in the 19th century from the Carmarthen area, strongly associated with the legendary wizard Merlin. So many of them lived in one street that it was named 'Carmarthen Row'; Talbot Athletic Ground is built where Carmarthen Row used to be.

Club honours

* 1904-05 Glamorgan League - Champions
* 1913-14 Welsh Challenge Cup - Winners
* 1994-95 Welsh League Division 2 - Champions
* 2001-02 Welsh National League Division 1 - Champions

Notable former players

* Gareth Baber (75 caps)
* Arthur Bassett (6 caps)
* John D Bevan
* Aled Brew (3 caps)
* Onllwyn Brace (9 caps)
* Alfred Brice (18 caps) ["Fields of Praise, The Official History of the Welsh Rugby Union 1881-1981", David Smith, Gareth Williams (1980) pp464 ISBN 0 7083 0766 3]
* John Ernest Collins (10 caps)
* Emlyn Davies (2 caps)
* Richard Hibbard (4 caps)
* Tommy Owen James (2 caps)
* Ned Jenkins (21 caps)
* Dan Jones (1 Cap)
* William 'Billy' Mainwaring (6 caps)
* Allan Martin (34 caps) ["The Rugby Clubs of Wales" pp48, David Parry-Jones (1989) ISBN 0091738504]
* Rees Richards (3 caps)
* David Thomas (1 cap)
* Walter Vickery (4 caps)
* Paul Wheeler (2 caps)
* Clive Williams
* Sid Williams (1 cap)

External links

* [http://www.aberavonwizards.co.uk/ Official Site of Aberavon RFC]

References

* [http://www.aberavonwizards.co.uk/ Aberavon RFC - A History]


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