Neath RFC Founded
It has long been thought that Neath Rugby Football Club was founded in 1871/72 when the first recorded rugby match in Wales took place, Neath against Swansea – the outcome was disputed! However, delving through back-copies of the old “Cambrian” newspaper, the following appeared on November 4th, 1864:
FOOTBALL – It is with much pleasure that we announce the formation of a Club for playing this healthy game during the winter months at Neath. On Thursday a game was played in a field near Court Herbert, though the number of players was not so large as may be expected when the Club becomes more formed. As President, we notice the name of J.T.D. Llewellyn Esq., a gentleman well known in the neighbourhood for the interest he takes in all athletic games – under his auspices we think the Club cannot but succeed. The rules of the game, as played at Rugby, are being attended to, and would some other club in this locality adopt the same, a spirited match might soon be looked for.
Neath’s first appointed captain is held to have been Dr. T.P. Whittington who was capped for Scotland against England in 1873. In 1874, a 17 year old, Sam Clarke, started playing and he was to become the Club’s first Welsh international. From the beginning, games were played at The Gnoll which was also used for cricket so other grounds were used in the Town, most notably the Bird-in-Hand Field
where Neath’s Civic Centre is now situated.
In the early days, the team wore assorted dark jerseys and a player, allegedly E.C. Moxham, introduced the famous White Cross to break the monotony of their dark garb. Popular belief holds that the All Black jersey itself was adopted following the death of Dick Gordon after being injured while playing against Bridgend in 1880.