Remembering South Africa’s International Debut

The match was played in front of a 6,000 strong crowd at Crusader’s Ground in Port Elizabeth.

“…the pavilion was crowded with ladies, all intent on the game…” – The Cape Times

Great Britain won by four points (two tries and a conversion) to nil in a contest refereed by Dr John Griffin, a former Wales international. One of the scorers was Randolph Aston, a centre for England and Blackheath. He racked up an impressive 30 tries throughout the tour!

South Africa v British Isles, 1891

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Cardiff v Newport: The Ladies’ Story

A century after the first British women gained the right to vote, our women’s rugby historian, Lydia Furse, takes a look at how sport impacted the lives of many women in South Wales during the First World War.

The war took its toll on many communities across Britain and the globe.  South Wales was no exception, with young men volunteering and later conscripted to fight on the Western Front.  As the men marched to the trenches, the spaces they left behind in work places were filled by women, who thereby enjoyed a new economic and social freedom.  It is important to note that working class women were often employed outside the home during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, but the First World War was a turning point in the sheer number of women who took to the factory floors to keep the country running, incidentally proving that they were just as capable as their menfolk.  This had a wider knock on effect on the women’s rights movement, evidenced by the suffragette’s success in gaining the right to vote for some women over 30 in 1918. Continue reading

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Flying Lions: Bleddyn Williams

Continuing our series of biographies by David Smith, covering some of the British & Irish Lions who served with the RAF. 

Bleddyn Llewellyn Williams was born in Taffs Wells on 22nd February 1923, the third of eight brothers.  His first Welsh Schools cap came as a fly half in 1937 while at Rydal School in Colwyn Bay.  In the last season before the war he played for Cardiff Athletic while working for The Steel Company of Wales.

Bleddyn Williams Continue reading

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5 things to spot at the World Rugby Museum


With the summer holidays rapidly approaching, here is a taster of what you can see on your visit to the World Rugby Museum… Continue reading

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Tanaka and Clarke: The friends that took rugby from Cambridge to Japan

Rugby football arrived in Japan relatively early by worldwide standards, but it was not until the turn of the twentieth century that the sport would be played by Japanese nationals.  Two key individuals are credited with introducing rugby to Japanese schools and universities – Ginnosuke Tanaka and Edward Bramwell Clarke.

Tanaka and Bramwell Clarke

Clarke and Tanaka (pictured centre) with the 1901 Keio University rugby team.

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From Silver to Gold, and back again!

It has been 70 years since Jack Gregory and the rest of the 1948 British Olympic 100 meter relay team briefly won gold in London. This was the second time London had hosted the Summer Olympics, with the first being 40 years prior, in 1908. It was not to play host city for a third time until 2012, becoming the first city to do so in the history of the modern Games.

1948 Olympic GB 100 Meter Relay Team

Alongside Gregory in the relay team was Alistair McCorquodale, a talented rugby player and cricketer, John Archer, who had a trial for England but subsequently broke his leg, and legendary Wales and British Isles wing Ken Jones.  Outside of the sprinting world, Gregory played rugby for Bristol and also won 1 international cap for England against Wales at Cardiff Arms Park in 1949, where he faced off against his former relay teammate Jones.

The relay team ultimately had to be content with their silver medals having had them be briefly upgraded to gold when the winning American team was disqualified following a dispute about a handover. However, the ruling was overturned 2 days later following an appeal.

His silver medal forms part of the Jack Gregory Collection that can be seen as part of our permanent Olympics Gallery at the World Rugby Museum.

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Flying Lions: Rory Underwood

Today we begin a series of biographies by David Smith, covering some of the British & Irish Lions who served with the RAF.  Rory is featured in the World Rugby Museum’s RAF at 100 exhibition, showing until November 2018.

Rory Underwood was born on 19th June 1963 in Middlesbrough.  Having spent his early life in Malaysia, the family returned to England in 1976 and he was educated at Barnard Castle School.

He joined the RAF in 1983 having already played for England Colts, Durham and Yorkshire and while undergoing his training at Cranwell he began a fourteen-year association with Leicester, for whom he was to score 95 tries.

Rory heading for the try line.

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