Category: Neath Rugby News


We would like to wish Tomás Antozzi all the very best as he returns home to Argentina next season.

Tomas was outstanding last year and will always have a huge welcome at the Gnoll!

(Player leaving announcements will be made in the forthcoming weeks )

#weareneath #packthegnoll

Tomas Antozzi – Player leaving announcement

We would like to wish Tomás Antozzi all the very best as he returns home to Argentina next season.Tomas was outstanding last year and will always have a huge welcome at the Gnoll!(Player leaving announcements will be made in the forthcoming weeks )#weareneath #packthegnoll

Pubblicato da Neath RFC su Domenica 28 giugno 2020



Our secretary Mike Price continues his series chronicling Neath’s Welsh title wins with Part 11 – season 1990/91.

 Welsh rugby changed in 1990/91 when National Leagues were introduced but it could not halt the march of Neath RFC who were once again Wales’ champion club as they won the first League title.

Neath had won the final two Western Mail championships and, by winning the first League title, they were champions for three seasons on the trot – the first time the All Blacks had achieved this feat.

Despite being weakened by the loss of three great men to rugby league – Allan Bateman, Mark Jones (Hull), Allan Bateman and Rowland Phillips (both Warrington) joined the international exodus north as Welsh rugby, leagues or not, struggled to cope with the new world order – Neath got off to a good start and lost only a friendly at Bath before Christmas.

The All Blacks’ second loss of 1990 came on December 29 when Neath, resting players for League engagements ahead, sent a much-changed side to Rodney Parade on to take on Newport who were highly motivated after being consigned to the second-tier of the League. It ended a magnificent run of 51 consecutive wins against leading Welsh opponents.

Ut Neath ploughed on in the League and, after beating Abertillery on March 30, the title was virtually Neath’s with four games to come but, after being edged out of cup semi-final by Llanelli, they fell three days later at Newbridge.

At least it set up the title-clincher to take place at The Gnoll – on Saturday, April 13 and here is Chris Baldock’s report on the game for “Wales on Sunday” :-


NEATH’S title celebrations were put on ice at Newbridge in midweek – and for long spells in this game Pooler desperately tried to become party poopers themselves,

 For an agonising 10 minutes during the second half they camped threateningly on the All Blacks line with the score delicately balanced at 13-9.

 But determined resistance and a sheer bloody-mindedness not to buckle under fierce pressure, summed up the qualities which have taken Kevin Phillips and his side to the top of the inaugural Heineken League.

 Neath not only mount telling attacks, they can withstand them as well.

 Withstand them they did yesterday – in stirring fashion.

 Initially in the second period, Pooler drove the home team off their scrum ball to set up an attack which saw David Phillips go close following a  searing break.

 A succession of scrums resulted – centre Bob Lewis dramatically held up over the line – but the Schweppes Cup finalists just couldn’t break down that defensive wall.

 Eventually, a snap put-in by Ceri Jonathan caught hooker Garin Jenkins seemingly unaware and Wales no.2 Phillips struck against the head for full back Paul Thorburn to clear with a massive touch-finder.

 That Thorburn clearance was greeted with familiar cries of “Neath, Neath, Neath” and effectively earned the vital points necessary to lift the Premeir Division crown.

 Pooler coach John Perkins bemoaned afterwards, “I think perhaps the lads didn’t really believe they could win down here.”

 Maybe … but his verdict is probably a touch harsh as the men of Gwent did give the home crowd more nail-biting moments as the match progressed before Thorburn sealed victory with an 80th minute penalty.

But few teams ever look convincing winning material at The Gnoll – especially after conceding two tries in the first half hour as Pooler did.

 An incredibly irritating delay to play while a labrador (black, naturally) was chased around the field completely disrupted the opening exchanges but Neath composed themselves to strike the firsy blow in the 13th minute.

 They won a lineout on the stand side and the ball was worked wide for centre Colin Laity to brush off several weak tackles to touch down near the far corner.

 While Pooler gave the All Blacks countless problems in the scrum, the lineout was particularly barren and probably proved decisive with the Llewellyn brothers ruling the roost.

More ball from the big jumpers enabled Neath to power upfield in the 28th minute – a genuine flash of the form which has carried all before them.

 Forwards supported backs in copybook manner and Pooler had no answer as Laity put midfield partner Jason Ball away.

 That second breakthrough left the score at 10-3 and prospects looked bleak for the visitors.

 But Pooler have improved immeasurably, winning 14 of their last 16 games, and they battled back with Arwel Parry landing two penakties – after missing an early “sitter” – to Thorburn’s one before half-time.

The confidence Parry’s successes brought paved the way for the second half cavalry charge which has become the team’s trade-mark in recent weeks.

 But, despite the endeavours of skipper Chris Huish and his ever-supportive back-row, the Neath nut wouldn’t crack.

 Then, as Pooler heads began to drop, Phillips urged his men to a great last effort which should have produced a third try, only for Laity to ignore an overlap on his right.

 Thorburn’s second penalty was enough to satisfy the most demanding of supporters though, and captain Phillips was carried shoulder-high at the end as the champagne corks popped at last.

 SCORERS – NEATH – Tries : Laity, Ball, Conversion Thorburn, Penalties : Thorburn (2), PONTYPOOL – Penalties : Parry (4)

 NEATH – Paul Thorburn;  Steve Barclay, Colin Laity, Jason Ball, Graham Davies; Jeff Bird, Chris Bridges; Brian Williams, Kevin Phillips (captain), Jeremy Pugh; Glyn Llewellyn, Gareth Llewellyn; Kevin Fox, Derek Thomas, Martyn Morris

PONTYPOOL – Arwel Parry; Shaun White, Bob Lewis, Scott McGauchie, Sean Hansen; David Phillips, Ceri Jonathan; Andy Dibble, Garin Jenkins, Lyndon Mustoe; Nick Jones, Richard Goodey; Chris Huish, Dean Oswald, Vince Daves

Referee – Mr. Gareth Simmonds (Cardiff)

John Williams (who had succeeded Brian Thomas as team manager) said that the title had been a triumph for Neath’s depth. Aside from the above XV, among others, Neath could call upon were Jonathan Griffiths, Chris Higgs, the newly-capped Scott Gibbs, Alan Edmunds, Adrian Davies, Justin Price, Rhodri Jones, Gary Williams, Kevin Matthews, Andrew Thomas, John Davies, Mike Whitson, Paul Jackson, Phil Pugh, Ian Callaghan, David Pickering and Adrian Varney.

This depth allowed Neath to cope with those three massive rugby league losses, heavy international calls and a succession of sendings off – not all deserved as referees adapted to the heightened atmosphere of the new leagues.

Neath were champions for the 11th time – and added the first league title to becoming inaugural cup-winners in 1972 !



We’re delighted to announce that Christopher Davies has joined Neath RFC from West Wales Raiders for the 20/21 season.

@christopher.davies.3701 Merthyr RFC Brecon Rugby Club

#packthegnoll #weareneath

Chris Davies – New Signing Announcement

We’re delighted to announce that Christopher Davies has joined Neath RFC from West Wales Raiders for the 20/21 season.@christopher.davies.3701 Merthyr RFC Brecon Rugby Club#packthegnoll #weareneath

Pubblicato da Neath RFC su Giovedì 18 giugno 2020






Our secretary Mike Price continues his series examining Neath’s Welsh title wins with Part 10 – season 1989/90.

For the third time in their illustrious history, Neath made it back-to-back Welsh championship when Kevin Phillips’ men lifted the title again in 1989/90.

The 1988/89 championship had seen Neath build up to a tilt with the World Champions New Zealand at The Gnoll on October 25, 1989 – and that was the topic of conversation for rugby folk in the Town all summer.

From the opening game against Moseley, New Zealand dominated Neath’s thoughts during the first two months of the season. Selection options – and there were plenty ! – were fully explored and may have contributed to narrow losses to Bath (13-17) and at Llanelli (12-14) which did not deter Neath.

The big game was eventually lost 15-26 but not before inspired Neath gave the All Blacks a mighty shock and the toughest examination of their short tour – Alan Edmunds’ try converted by Paul Thorburn who kicked three penalties going down in club folk-lore.

Brian Thomas’ overseas work commitments restricted his involvement but again Ron Waldron, Glen Ball and David Shaw kept the team fully focussed – and, with hooker Kevin Phillips driving the team onwards, Neath did not lose again that season over a magnificent (unfinished) run of 37 consecutive wins.

The season was celebrated in full by Rod Rees in his “Grand Slam Club” and again I would commend it to those wanting the in-depth tale of another epic season.

Once again, Neath piled on the points and enjoyed massive victories over traditionally obdurate rivals in 1989/90 including :-

Cross Keys 80-nil, Penarth 72-9 (A), Sale 60-nil (H), Moseley 55-9 (H), Newport 54-6 (H), Abertillery 52-10 (H), Ebbw Vale 52-18 (H), Swansea 51-11 (H), Aberavon 50-nil (H), Glamorgan Wanderers 49-nil (H), Cardiff 46-10 (H), Newbridge 43-4 (H), Swansea 42-12 (A), Pontypridd 41-4 (H), Orrell 36-10 (H), Maesteg 37-10 (A), South Wales Police (36-10), Cardiff 36-13 (A), Pontypool 34-10 (H), Cambridge University 32-7 (A), Bridgend 31-12 (H), Maesteg 30-6 (H), Newport 30-7 (A), Greystones 27-13 (A), Pontypridd 27-20 (A), Swansea 24-16 (Cup S/F), Coventry 23-4 (H), Cardiff 22-6 (H) Cup, Pontypool 22-6 (A), Bridgend 22-16 (A), Wasps 20-18 (A), Llanelli 19-3 (H)

1,867 points and 344 tries were scored – 50 points and 1 try short of the previous year’s world records. That the record was not eclipsed was surely down to the fact that Neath played two fewer games in 1989/90.

Again, some of the margins are frightening remembering that tries were still only worth 4 points.

The “Western Mail” championship was won a long time before its percentage-based formula settled its destiny. Neath’s title was sealed in the 44th game of the season when they travelled to Aberavon on Easter Monday.

With home games against Cardiff and Newport and a Cup Final against Bridgend in the offing, Neath were virtually assured the title so they played only 5 of their Cup Final team and rested a host of players and unveiled the teenage Derwyn Jones in the second row.

All the tries came in the first-half as flanker Graham Evans gave Aberavon the lead but Neath quickly struck for three tries by Paul Williams, Graham Davies and Andrew Kembery. 12-4 up, Neath seemed content to conserve energy in the second-half when the only score was a Williams penalty as it ended 15-4 and they would celebrate properly at The Gnoll when Cardiff and Newport visited. The teams were :-

ABERAVON – G. Matthews; P. Morgan, J. Jardine, K. George, G. Wilkins; N. Forrester, B. Roach; J. Jones, A. Jones, K. Yates; M.Evans, W. Matthews; D. Davies, P. Middleon, G. Evans
NEATH – Jonathan Griffiths; Graham Davies, Allan Bateman, Colin Laity, Jason Ball; Paul Williams (capt), Rupert Moon; David Joseph, Andrew Thomas, John Davies; Mike Whitson, Derwyn Jones; Kevin Fox, Andrew Kembery, Lyn Jones

The title had been another supreme team triumph with all-round depth very much the key – five of the above team would be capped but Neath lacked 14 of their other internationals Paul Thorburn, Alan Edmunds (45 tries that season, short only of Dan Jones’ world record of 59 in 1928/29), Adrian Davies, Chris Bridges, Brian Williams, Kevin Phillips, Jeremy Pugh, Glyn Llewellyn, Gareth Llewellyn, Rowland Phillips, Phil Pugh, Mark Jones, Martyn Morris and David Pickering.

Neath were champions for the 10th time, seeing off second-placed Llanelli. And they recorded a second successive double too by beating Bridgend 16-10 in the Cup final.

One achievement that is often overlooked is the fact that it was the first time any club had recorded back-to-back doubles – the double double.

If Neath were to be champions for the third time in succession, it would take a different emphasis as the following year Leagues were introduced when Welsh rugby ditched the unofficial championship – not prematurely as it suited the times but, strangely enough, the unofficial championship might have been better suited to the Game in the professional and regional era.



Next Saturday evening, S4C are showing highlights of the 1993 WRU Cup Final between Llanelli and Neath – the game which Neath supporters remember as the “Gareth Simmonds Final” !

For the uninitiated, Mr. Simmonds controversially allowed a dropped goal by Llanelli flanker Emyr Lewis to stand.

For the rest of the tale, tune in next Saturday evening.