Category: Neath Rugby News


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.


Our secretary Mike Price continues his series examining Neath’s Welsh title wins with Part 9 – season 1988/89.

 After winning their ninth Welsh championship in 1986/87, 1987/88 was considered something of a failure by the demanding Blacks. Finishing second to the Pontypool of David Bishop and Mark Ring whom they beat in the Cup semi-final and then losing the final to Llanelli in the final was never good enough for Neath.

1988/89 was Neath’s chance to make amends and they did so in style romping to the championship Cup double and helping themselves to world record points and tries tallies on the way.

Team Manager Brian Thomas departed for work duties in Yugoslavia so more pressure was thrust upon the willing shoulders of Ron Waldron, Glen Ball and David Shaw and hooker Kevin Phillips was a truly inspiring on-field lieutenant – a super side honed to super fitness played some super rugby.

The season’s deeds have been splendidly covered by Rod Rees (“The Trail to Triumph”) and Bernard Lewis (“Neath, Neath, Neath”) – and I commend their works to anyone who wants the full story of an epic season. Suffice to say that Neath racked up the points and enjoyed some huge victories over their traditional rivals in 1988/89.

Among them were : Newbridge 73-3 (H), Pontypool 67-18 (H), Penarth 66-8 (H), Greystones 66-19 (H), Maesteg 64-nil (H), Cross Keys 60-10 (A), Newport 54-7 (H), Ebbw Vale 58-3 (H), Ebbw Vale 50-nil (A), Richmond 50-4 (H), Bridgend 49-nil (H), Cardiff 49-10 (H), Sale 48-17 (H), London Welsh 48-15 (H), Aberavon 42-6 (H), Coventry 42-9 (A), Glamorgan Wanderers 38-nil (A) Cup, Cambridge University 38-6 (H), Aberavon 34-10 (A), Pontypridd 34-15 (A), Wasps 34-6 (A), Pontypool 33-9 (A), Newport 33-16 (A), Maesteg 32-6 (A). Glamorgan Wanderers 27-13 (A), Swansea 26-6 (H) and Bridgend 22-3 (A).

1,917 points and 345 tries were scored; some of the margins are frightening even today – and remember tries were only worth 4 points then. However, perhaps most impressive of all was the 22-19 midweek win over Toulouse at The Gnoll in October.

Llanelli chased Neath hard and it was not until April 24th that the championship was won – an overcast Tuesday evening and Waterton Cross, the home of South Wales Police, was the rather unlikely venue.

The well-appointed Police ground with its large concrete stand was a wide field with a good playing surface and it regularly attracted squad sessions for the national side. But it was a rather under-used facility and certainly not used to coping with the massive Neath support which journeyed east after work. Home treasurer David Richards, a Neath man, was the busiest man in Welsh rugby that night as he willingly relieved the All Blacks’ hordes of their silver ! But the real silver (ware) went to the Blacks !

The ground had never seen such a crowd and, under the heading “CHAMPION SHOW – NEATH SEAL TITLE !”, this was how Malcolm Lewis of the “Western Mail” described the action :-

S.W. Police 4pts Neath 31 pts 

 NEATH are the new “Western Mail” champions – and now prepare for a May 6 Schweppes Cup final against Llanelli, a mouth-watering showdown with the Merit Table title-winners.

 Kevin Phillips’ team clinched the coveted consistency crown last night with a game in hand, to add the final touch of spice to the repeat Cup final against the Scarlets.

 Despite a slow start, the Welsh All Blacks ensured both will be chasing a double in front of an anticipated 50,000-strong Arms Park crowd as they secured a second championship in three seasons, their fourth in 42 years.

 But it was anything but a stroll in the park for the club who have set new world record marks of 1,849 points and 331 tries – the latter ultimately being increased by five on this occasion.

 The Police, battered by Pontypridd on Saturday, put up a tremendous battle for an hour before Neath belatedly got their customary dynamic game going.

 The home side, with scrum-half David Harrett and centre Dene Jones responding to the example of their forwards, tackled like demons and Neath, finding space at a premium, got bogged down in midfield.

 Nevertheless, the end result was the victory Neath required to put the “Western Mail” title out of Llanelli’s reach. Now both the All Blacks and the Scarlets can concentrate on Cup preparations.

 The first half was certainly not a memorable affair, despite the early promise provided by Jeremy Pugh’s first try after less than three minutes.

 Wing Chris Higgs breached the defence with a magical weaving run and unselfishly fed the supporting prop.

 Police lock Nick Jones almost forced his way over as the home forwards took the game to Neath though they could make no impression with a tapped penalty move.

But, under the watchful eye of next season’s coach Gerald Williams, they did profit when centre Phil Young intercepted and sent wing Mark Brinkworth over.

Mark Jones, in particular, was required for extensive defensive duties as the Police refused to be over-awed by a side who have swept numerous opponents before them during a remarkable season.

 And it was not until the 47th minute that Neath regained the lead, lock Paul Jackson plunging over from a line out and Paul Thorburn bringing up his 300 points for the season with the conversion.

The Wales captain and full back increased their advantage when Chris Bridges was the victim  of a high tackle, his penalty putting Neath 10 points clear and sparking a final quarter onslaught.

 Police No.8 Martyn Morris burst away on a threatening run but Neath stormed back through their forwards, supplemented by Bridges, for Pugh to claim his second try.

 Second row Jackson emulated his front row colleague as persistent Neath pressure told before centre Colin Laity broke his pack’s try-scoring dominance minutes later, Thorburn converting both.

South Wales Police : try – M. Brinkworth

Neath : tries – J. Pugh (2), P. Jackson (2), C. Laity; cons (4), pen – Paul Thorburn.

 NEATH – Paul Thorburn; Chris Higgs, Jason Ball, Colin Laity, Steve Powell; Paul Williams, Chris Bridges; David Joseph, Kevin Phillips (captain), Jeremy Pugh; Paul Jackson, Gareth Llewellyn; Phil Pugh, Mark Jones, Lyn Jones

Coach Ron Waldron was in no doubt that the title was attributable to the squad whose teamwork was of the highest order and was really like nothing seen before in Wales. Again, the side’s impressive depth is underlined by those not playing on the night the title was won including internationals Allan Bateman, Alan Edmunds, Brian Williams, John Davies, Huw Richards, Rowland Phillips and David Pickering.

Neath were proud champions for the ninth time. And the Cup ? Well, that was won too – a close thing 14-13 in front of a world record 58,000 crowd against Llanelli. So the double was Neath’s and the Welsh All Blacks were set up nicely to take on the other All Blacks, the world champions of New Zealand, the following season.



We’re delighted to announce that Jordan Rees has committed his future to Neath RFC for the 20/21 season!

Special thanks to his players sponsor Pressure Water Services

 To view the video – click the link below:

We’re delighted to announce that Jordan Rees has committed his future to Neath RFC for the 20/21 season!Special thanks to his players sponsor Pressure Water #weareneath

Pubblicato da Neath RFC su Sabato 6 giugno 2020






We’re delighted to announce that Jarrad Rees has committed his future to Neath RFC for the 20/21 season!

Special thanks to his players sponsor Grŵp Colegau NPTC Group of Colleges


 To view the video – click the link below:

Jarrad Rees – Re-Signing Announcement

We’re delighted to announce that Jarrad Rees has committed his future to Neath RFC for the 20/21 season!Special thanks to his players sponsor Grŵp Colegau NPTC Group of Colleges@jarrad.rees.3#packthegnoll #weareneath

Pubblicato da Neath RFC su Giovedì 4 giugno 2020