St Helen’s ArchivePreserving the past for the future

1879-1880 Season


Swansea RFC season breakdown 1879-1880

Arthur Richardson was re-elected captain of the Swansea 1st XV for 1879-1880. He had been selected the previous season, but never played a match, Charlie Chambers and Fred Meager taking up the duties. This season was to see him take charge of a Swansea team who were to have their best campaign to date, winning 11 of the 12 fixtures played and gaining their first piece of silverware.

On 3rd March 1880 Swansea defeated Lampeter College by 2 tries to nil at Ystrad near Carmarthen to win the South Wales Challenge Cup (SWCC), forerunner of the WRU Challenge cup. Quarter-back Ned Clark and half-back Frank Carlyle scored the two tries. On the team's arrival back in Swansea they were met by a band and cheered through the Town’s streets to the Workingmen’s Institute which most belonged to and which had stood as an unofficial Clubhouse for Swansea Rugby Football Club in earlier days. This was the second occasion that Swansea had reached the final, having been runners-up to Newport in the inaugural cup final in 1878.


Cambrian Friday 14th May 1880 p5 & Cambria Daily Leader Saturday 3rd Nov. 1906 p5. About the 1880 team photo.

January saw Swansea's good form continue as a Llandovery College past & Present side were well beaten by 3 goals and 4 tries to a goal and Neath knocked out of the SWCC, before a surprise loss to Llanelli at Stradey Park in February ended the unbeaten run. Revenge was taken at St Helen's on 21st February where Swansea overcame the 'Scarlet Runners' by a drop goal and try to a try. Dai Gwynn made his first appearance at St Helen's and dropped a fine goal to announce himself to the Swansea crowd. Llandovery College were beaten the the home tie before the season was crowned with the win over Lampeter College at Ystrad on 6th March. It was also the first ever meeting between Swansea and Lampeter College.

The season began in October with a win at St Helen's over Llanelli before Llandovery College were defeated on the College Ground in November, a month that saw four wins from four for Richardson's team, Neath, and combined ("The Rest") XV losing at St Helen's and Bridgend beaten at the Old Mill Field. On 13th December Newport were the first opponents in the SWCC and were defeated at the neutral venue of the Newbridge field, Bridgend in a controversial encounter. The 'Black & Ambers' had disputed Swansea's try, insisting that the game was still stopped while spectators were being got back behind the whitewash, after having encroached. the referee disagreed and the win stood. Newport, winners of the first two SWCC finals, were out of the cup. There were to be repercussions later as Newport refused to hand over the cup, still in their possession.


South Wales Daily News Monday 8th March 1880 p4. Swansea v Lampeter College.