The RAF – and “Taffy” – shot down on St David’s Day…

In the ‘King’s Cup’ opening encounter the fledgling Royal Air Force outfit, with the last- minute addition of an amazing Air Force character, met a strong New Zealand Services XV at a windblown Swansea on St David’s Day 1919…

Unfortunately, the brand-new RAF side lost three of their best players when illness struck en route to Wales.  In any event, they had not had much time together, while New Zealand were not only at full strength, but were a tried and tested unit for this St David’s Day tournament opener at a Swansea ground well used to hosting major internationals.

As skipper ‘Wakers’ Wakefield put it, ‘…influenza raged and destroyed our prospects of getting together a reasonable team in time for our first match and we were badly beaten by the New Zealanders at Swansea on my first visit to that ground.’


William Wavell Wakefield’s RAF Jersey, on display in World Rugby Museum Wartime gallery

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Edmund Blunden – the War Poet who went to Japan

Edmund Blunden

Edmund Charles Blunden CBE MC is remembered as a well-travelled poet and war hero but fewer people are aware of his impact on the early development of rugby in Japan.

Born in London in 1896, he was educated at Christ’s Hospital and Queen’s College, Oxford. He had published his first book of poems while still a teenager and was posted to the Western Front as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Sussex Regiment in 1915 at the age of 19. Continue reading

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Flying Lions: Louis Greig

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

Louis Leisler Greig was born on 17th November 1880 in Glasgow and after school studied medicine at Glasgow University. After a few years practicing as a junior doctor in the Gorbals, he joined the navy in 1906 and won the gold medal during his training at RNH Haslar.  In 1909, Greig entered officer training at the Royal Naval College, Osborne, where he met Prince Albert, later George VI and became a mentor for the prince; the two served together in HMS Cumberland, where he was posted as a surgeon.

Louis Greig Continue reading

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1973 – Everyone’s A Winner

The 1973 incarnation of the Five Nations championship kicked off at the newly rebuilt Parc de Prince in Paris on the 13th January.

France hosted Scotland in a tight game, with tries apiece from Claude Dourthe and Alan Lawson supplemented by a drop-goal each from Jean-Pierre Romeu and Ian McGeechan. In the end, just one Romeu penalty kick was the difference, handing France a 16-13 victory.

The tournament was underway.

Fra v Sco 1973 DocID11244

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March of the Groggs

Groggs – they are unique sculpted caricatures depicting famous rugby players and a select few other notable personalities.  For more than half a century these quirky creations have won over the hearts of rugby fans across Wales and beyond and we are delighted to be hosting a new special exhibition, ‘The March of the Groggs’, co-curated with sculptor Richard Hughes and World of Groggs.

World of Groggs and the Groggshop was established by Richard’s father John in Treforest, Pontypridd, in 1965. It has remained a family-run business ever since.

groggs 1

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Beginner’s Guide to the Six Nations

England v Ireland - NatWest Six Nations

Photo by David Rogers via Getty Images

With the 2019 Six Nations championship looming, it’s time to brush-up on the basics of the oldest rugby championship in the world.

The Six Nations in a nutshell

The Six Nations is a Rugby Union tournament played every year between six European rugby playing nations.  Those nations are: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France and Italy. Continue reading

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Up for the Cup, 1919…

A century ago: January 1919 and with the Versailles negotiations to formally end WW1 still ongoing, five Services sides from amongst the victorious Allies’ ranks were being prepared for what became The King’s Cup: Rugby’s First ‘World Cup’…

On January 13th, 1919, at a general meeting of the Army RU, held at the Library of the Horse Guards in Whitehall, London, and presided over by Colonel C G Liddell, CMG, DSO, it was decided that a Rugby Tournament should be played in March and April between the services of New Zealand, South Africa, Australia, Canada, the newly-formed Royal Air Force and the ‘Mother Country’.

In reality, Mother Country (also sometimes labelled the Home Countries) was the British Army; Canada was the Canadian Expeditionary Force; New Zealand was the New Zealand Army; South Africa was the South African Forces and Australia was the Australian Imperial Forces.  The Royal Navy felt unable to raise a fully-representative XV.  Rugby League players in the Army, RAF and Royal Navy were allowed to take part in Union games until the end of the season. Continue reading

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