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Rugby Origins – a talk with Club Historian Alun Granfield

On Friday 23rd June Ponty RFC Club Historian Alun Granfield will be hosting a talk in the Clubhouse at Sardis Road about the origins of the sport of rugby football, including how it all started for Pontypridd RFC.

“It is said that Oscar Wilde once described rugby football as a game for hooligans played by gentlemen, while football was a game for gentlemen played by hooligans. He is also supposed to have said that rugby was a good way of keeping thirty bullies far from the centre of the city – presumably out in the wilds of Twickenham! There is some doubt about whether Oscar uttered many of the witticisms attributed to him, and there is also some doubt about the origins of the game of rugby football. In this talk I want to explore some of the myths and legends surrounding the start of rugby in the public schools and universities of England and also the start of rugby football in Pontypridd.” – Alun Granfield.

Alun will start with the story told by James Spickett, that he and a few friends met in the Butchers Arms hotel in or around 1876 to talk about starting a rugby club in Pontypridd. He will explore the story that it all started with a schoolboy, William Webb Ellis, who “first took the ball in his arms and ran with it” at Rugby School in 1823 and look briefly at the early history of the game. Finally, Alun will turn to the evidence turned up by Sheldon Philips, who was researching the history of the 1893 National Eisteddfod in Pontypridd. He turned up some interesting facts about the history of rugby in Pontypridd, suggesting that the first games were played as far back as 1873, which is three years before the ‘official’ formation of the club. The newspaper accounts that he found are funny and give an interesting picture of life in Pontypridd in those days.

The talk will be a light-hearted couple of hours entertainment which will start at 7:00pm. It is a free event but places must be reserved by either E-mailing, by telephoning the Club office on 01443 405006 during Monday or Thursday mornings or you can pop in in-person to the Clubhouse on a Monday or Thursday morning to get yours.