Our History

from the 1980 Canada Tour programme by Michael Samual
with additional material by Nick Day

What proof has the club that they were100 years old? This can be confirmed from facts found in the Carmarthen Journal which confirms that Llandeilo R.F.C. was in existence in 1871. It also mentions that some of Llandeilo's opponents during this time were Neath, Lampeter College and Llandovery College. But games between the sides were not as frequent in those days as they are now as transport problems caused a few difficulties.

Records show that games in those days were played on the Bridge Field but their baptismal season was marred following the death of a player and the club floundered. For a period no rugby was played in Llandeilo but the seeds had been planted and after a four-year gap, a group of enthusiasts rekindled interest in the game and despite bitter opposition from local inhabitants, a new ground was acquired which was known locally as the Gurrey Fach Field and rugby was restarted.

Competitive Rugby was first played by Llandeilo way back in 1877-78 season when they took part in the South Wales Challenge Cup competition. Together with Carmarthen, Cardiff, Talgarth, Merthyr, Brecon, Cowbridge Grammar School, Llanelli, Monmouth, Lampeter College, 10th Glamorgan Rifle Volunteers, Llandovery College, Pontypool, Newport, Neath, Swansea and Abergavenny, Llandeilo took part in this competition by subscribing two guineas to compete for the Challenge Cup which was worth fifty guineas.

But no success came their way. However, despite their lack of success in this new competition, the 1880s were illustrious years in Llandeilo's history, for in 1886-87 they reached the final against Neath, only to lose by a try which was scored after their young full back had been carried off with a broken collar bone.

But Llandeilo can lay claim that they were one of the founder members of the Welsh Rugby Union. Together with Swansea, Lampeter, Llanelli, Cardiff, Merthyr, Llandovery, Brecon, Pontypool and Bangor, they were present at the meeting which was held at the Castle Hotel, Neath on 12th March, 1881 which set up the Welsh Rugby Union.

Leading players during this period included Picton Phillips who became Chief Constable of Carmarthen. He also had two brothers who played for the town side in Johnny and Hugh Phillips. Other players who made a name for themselves during this period were George Davies, Morgan Richards, Tommy Jones, J. Vaughan (who later became Chief Constable of Bath), and Ned Roberts. The last named, a brother of the club's first secretary Willie Roberts, was a truly great clubman and of course a wonderful character who actually played his last game for Llandeilo at the ripe old age of 73.

Even to the present day their record between 1895 and 1901 has yet to be equalled. During this period, they enjoyed a remarkable run of success unequalled by any other West Wales club and only bettered by Newport. In three seasons from 1895 to 1898, they did not lose a single match and it wasn't until1902 that they were defeated in front of their own supporters.

Despite the fact that in those days very little rugby was played, Llandeilo richly deserved the title of Wales' leading second-class team.


During that era, Llandeilo built up a proud tradition of being Swansea's chief nursery. Since those early days, a number of players have graduated in Swansea's team via this West Wales club with the last one being Wayne Lewis.

George Davies was the first player to establish the Llandeilo club on the map, for he joined Swansea in 1898 and became a Welsh international in 1899-1900,winning three caps against England, Scotland and Ireland during that season.

He won a further six caps playing in the1901 and 1905 Triple Crown sides.

Llandeilo's first-ever cap was a name which is almost unknown to the present-day rugbyite but to the older members of the Swansea and Llandeilo rugby clubs it is a name which will never be forgotten, for it is claimed that it was George Davies who invented the "dummy". It seems that he developed the dummy in 1895when he was skipper of the Llandeilo club and in a game against Pembrokeshire champions Tenby United, he celebrated the occasion by scoring six tries and three drop goals in a resounding 50-nil victory.

The bewildered Pembrokeshire side had never before encountered the dummy but they sportingly acknowledged George Davies' wizardry by carrying him off the field immediately the game came to an end.

George Davies' contribution to the history of the Llandeilo club has been immense, for he was one of seven brothers who rendered excellent service both on and off the field. Once, they formed a seven-a-side team and challenged any other seven brothers in Wales to play a game of seven-a-side. The Williams' of Pembrokeshire accepted their challenge but they were no match for the Davies 'and were soundly thrashed.


As a reward for having the services of George Davies, Swansea sent their full team with the exception of W. J. Bancroft to play Llandeilo in a benefit match. Bancroft was the referee of this game in which Swansea played an international three quarter line in Dicky Trew, G.Davies, Danny Rees and Frank Gordon, with the famous James brothers at halfback. The Welsh champions were trailing4 points to 3 only minutes to go before Scrines scrambled a try for Swansea which enabled them to take the lead which they retained to win a most exciting match.

But there was a change in the fortunes of the club during the early 1900s with old players having to retire through old age. New players took their place but they were not as good as their predecessors and consequently the standard of play deteriorated. But despite the fact that enthusiasm was lacking, there were a couple of outstanding personalities that emerged such as Livingstone Davies and the Fuller brothers.

Rugby came to a standstill from 1914 until 1919 but on the cessation of hostilities in 1919, rugby returned to Llandeilo with many of the players being the ones which had played prior to the time when rugby had been forced to end.

This was an historic year for the club, for thanks to the kindness of their president and benefactor, the Rt. Hon. Lord Dynevor who had always been a staunch supporter of the club, Cae William became their home.

Billy Walker and George Brown were at the helm during this time and they served the club as joint secretaries. But they had a difficult task in front of them trying to revive the club to its former stature. There were not many outstanding players during this era but two excellent forwards came on the scene in David Rees and Granville Evans, with Wyndham Davies representing the Royal Navy.


But it wasn't long before interest in the game waned completely especially during the difficult times that befell the country during that time. The advent of Association Football within the county saw a number of promising young players switch allegiance with the result that for the second time in their history Llandeilo were forced into temporary liquidation and their membership of the Welsh Rugby Union lapsed.

From 1925 when rugby ceased to be played in Llandeilo, there was a gap of nine years in which the game wasn't played. But thanks to a person by the name of Vaughan Roberts, who was the son of Captain Willie Roberts, the club's first secretary, and with the help of some other keen rugby supporters as well, rugby was reformed and the first game was played in 1934 against Haverfordwest, another rugby club which had suffered a similar experience as themselves.

From 1934 until the outbreak of the Second World War, an outstanding personality in the club was Bertie Crooks who with Vaughan Roberts played no small part in consolidating the game within the town and the surrounding agricultural community.

But it took a long time for the club to recover but during this period Llandeilo found some good quality players in Isaac Thomas, Will Thomas and Reg Jones. On their fixture list during the 1938-39season were Swansea, a team which had retained fixtures with the club from the beginning of rugby in the town.

The above picture was kindly supplied by Mr Wyn Jones. It is a team photo from the 1937/38 season. Mr Jones's late father, John Llewelyn Jones, is in the middle row second from the right. Can you put names to any of the other players?



After World War II, it was unanimously agreed that rugby be started once again and entrance to the Llanelli and District Junior Rugby Union was sought with a positive result.

This proved a wise decision for within a few years Llandeilo were in receipt of their first trophy when in 1953-54 they won the Llanelli and District Rugby Union Knock-out Cup. Blaenau were the side which they met in the final at Ammanford and the result was a 6 points to 3 win. Skipper was Alun Evans and that evening the captain and the players paraded the Cup through the streets of the town accompanied by a large contingent of supporters and headed by two jazz bands.

By now, Llandeilo had been re-admitted as Welsh Rugby Union members. This took place in 1949. From the late 1940s progress was rapid and membership broke all existing records. A number of persons played a major part in their revival after the war, persons such as Major D. M. James, Vaughan Roberts, W. J. Harries, Elfryn Thomas, Rex Harries and Glyn Beynon.

Other persons who played a major role in rebuilding their playing strength were Tom Evans, George Davies, Eric Brown and Will Jones.

Season 1957-58 was considered as one of their best ever seasons since the first one after the war, when in 1946 they only lost four out of 17 games under the captaincy of Howard Williams.

This was the season in which they just failed to score 300 points in a season in which they played 32 games, won 18 of them, drew 6 and lost the other 8, scoring289 points and conceding only 136.