First known photo of a Rhymney Team (possibly 'The Rhymney Stars') circa 1887
Rhymney Rugby began with the town’s iron and coal works of the late 19th century, with teams like the “Stars”, “Farmer’s Lilies” and (maybe!) “Salmon Tin Dribblers”. The town’s first Welsh Cap though, in season 1882-83, was the local Canon’s son, W F 'Bill' Evans (Oxford Univ and Newport). Standards rose, local trophies were won, but it was often a struggle when the club - granted WRU status in 1910 - played in the Monmouthshire League each side of World War One.
Money troubles and the Depression robbed Rhymney of rugby for a decade after 1923, but the club revived and - still at the Eisteddfod Field - showed some style in the ‘30s. After 1945 WRU status was regained, and 1950 British Lion R.T. 'Bob' Evans (Newport and Wales) was the prime Rhymney product of that era. Then, a renewed drive to put rugby on a higher and firmer footing in the town was successfully launched in the mid 1950s.
A new field (The Park, 1959), better fixtures (late ‘50s on), a first clubhouse (1959), stand (1959), foreign tours and visitors (mid ‘60s on) and floodlights (1966), were all aimed for and achieved. First class opposition was met (and sometimes beaten), fine standards set, and the Rhymney name put on the map as sides toured in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Germany, Czechoslovakia, South Africa and the Soviet Union; many of those nationalities visited in return, as well as Argentinians and Americans. None have yet beaten the 1st XV at the Park!
Prime eras include the free-scoring early ‘60s and early ‘70s, with Welsh trialist David Pulsford a try-scoring, goal-kicking phenomenon, while last-gasp Llanelli only won 12-9 here in 1973, as Rhymney did well in the WRU Cup’s early years. A fine Centenary season, 1982-83, was followed by entry to the revamped Mon. League. Rhymney rose through the divisions, won the championship in 1994, and beat namesakes Rumney in a play-off at Cardiff's St Peter's, to enter the “Heineken” National League.
A new clubhouse (1992) arose not far from the site of its 1989 fire-destroyed forerunner, and a new stand was built in the mid ‘90s, as Rhymney looked to continued success - based on long tradition and strong team spirit, often against the odds. This came in 1998, with both promotion to Division Two of the National League, and triumph in the Monmouthshire Ben Francis Cup competition - this latter feat repeated in the 1999-2000 season.
Rhymney may have lost the Ironworks, Mines and Brewery, all of which featured on the Club’s special Centenary Badge - but they adopted 'The Brewers' as their nickname, and though there've been ups and downs since the millennium (including the great news of caps for Rhymney's Tom James from the Blues in the 2000s), with thriving Mini, Junior and Youth sections to back up the Seniors, Rhymney Rugby is still very much alive!
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