Rugby has been played in Neath for over 150 years. Neath is without doubt the most influential town in Welsh
rugby history, the teams, the players and the personalities have a history of being
the first and being the best. Through the innovation and industry of the people,
Neath Rugby has been at the fore of Wales' national sport from day
one. When you look at the facts there is no disputing this.
Neath RFC were the first rugby club in
Neath was the place where the
Welsh Rugby Union was founded.
Neath was home to the Welsh Rugby Union for over 50
Neath RFC were the first winners of the
modern day Welsh Rugby Union Challenge Cup.
Neath RFC were the first winners of the Welsh
Neath RFC hold the world record
for a number
of points in a season. (1988-89 - 1,917 points)
Neath RFC hold the world record for a number of tries in a
season. (1988-89 - 345 tries)
A Neath man refereed the last Olympic
The same referee was the first to send
off an international player.
The first player to be sent off in the
Rugby World Cup........ from Neath
We add the last fact because anyone
that knows Neath will know that the club and the town is as infamous as it is famous. The
club is built on a foundation of fury and passion ! Men at work all week, grafting
in industry in most cases, historically mining, tin, iron & steel have been
the industries of the area. Men let loose on a
Saturday to play for, or support their beloved All Blacks.
The players are
chiselled out of granite while the supporters are known for their knowledge,
humour and above all the ability to see the game through only one eye ! a
black one ! There is no shame in this, just a long lasting pride that will
live for ever. Players and supporters will for all eternity remember that
NEATH NEATH NEATH
NEATH NEATH NEATH
NEATH NEATH !
For longevity Rees Stephens can hardly be matched in the post-second world
war era. making his debut for Wales during 1945/6 in a victory international
against France at the age of 23, he played his last game for Wales in Paris in
1957 just a few days short of his 35th birthday! Indeed he was still playing the
odd first-class game at 40. At the time he left the international scene he was
the most capped Welsh forward - his nearest rival being George Travers, who
retired in 1911.
One of the few sons of a Welsh international to play for Wales himself, Rees
Stephens had a lot to follow. His father, Glyn, had played for Wales in 1912 and
1913 before reappearing against the N.Z. Army XV of 1919. Glyn Stephens also
became President of the Welsh Rugby Union. Rees was born in Neath in 1922 and
very soon showed his prowess on the Rugby field by being capped for the Welsh
schools at under 14 level. Big for a young lad he then went on to Llandovery
school where he won a further Welsh secondary Schools' honours. Working in his
father's mines during the war Rees played as much scratch Rugby as he could.
war ended he soon made his mark in senior rugby............ READ
REES STEPHENS JOURNALS
PLAYER, COACH, TEAM SECRETARY & FORMER PLAYERS SECRETARY
A member of the 1972 Cup Final winning team Mike was a favourite at
the Gnoll in the early 1970s. Together with Dai Morris & Wilson
Lauder he formed one of, if not the finest back row that the club has
ever seen. Not a lot of people realise however that Mike played far
more games for Swansea than Neath and that he scored the winning try
when he captained Swansea to victory over Ken Catchpole's 1966
Wallabies. So what colour is his heart ? Is it black or white ?
CLICK HERE FOR N
INTERVIEW WITH MIKE THOMAS
Castle Hotel, birthplace of the Welsh Rugby union - CLICK
HERE for more info