History of Llanelli RFC The Club was first established by Mr John D Rogers a young industrialist who had learned the way to play rugby union football at Rugby School – the birthplace of the game.
He was assisted by Mr C Hilton as honorary secretary and he gathered around him a band of young athletes to form the first club in 1872. For lack of opposition and then the limitations of transport no other town club was within challenge until 1875-76 when Swansea began to play the game. Up until then Llanelli and Neath were the only first class clubs in Wales (Neath are a year older).
People’s Park in Llanelli was used for practices. The Llanelli colours were then dark blue with high collared jerseys and tight trousers reaching well below the knee. The first real match was against Cambrian Club, Swansea on 1 January 1876. On 18/09/1879 it was announced that the Club had succeeded in getting the Stradey cricket ground for their practices and matches. The first official match played at Stradey the Llanelli Club was against Neath in the Challenge Cup on 29/11/1879.
In 1882/83 the team colours changed to rose and primrose stripes. In 1883/84 they changed again to red and chocolate quarters. However, on Easter Monday 14 April 1884 everyone saw sense and the Llanelli team took the field in Scarlet jerseys – complete with scarlet gold braided caps. The occasion was the visit of the full Irish team who had played Wales on the Saturday and were making a stop on their way home. The scarlet jersey was here to stay and Llanelli RFC is now known throughout the world as “The Scarlets”.
The Glorious Years
Although the Club is forever looking forward, it is inevitable on occasions like this to think back to past achievements and to many of the players who have contributed to those glorious years.
Some have rightly become legendary figures in the game.
Albert Jenkins, Ivor Jones, Lewis Jones, Barry John, Derek and Scott Quinnell, R H Williams, Phil Bennett, Ray Gravell, Carwyn James, Delme Thomas, JJ Williams, Nigel Davies Terry Davies, Jonathan Davies, Phil Davies, Ieuan Evans, Stephen Jones- to name but a few.
Such has been the contribution of Llanelli to Welsh Rugby that the Club can proudly boast no fewer than 176 Internationals. This figure includes 167 Welsh Caps, one Scottish International, Ian McGregor, two Irish International, Simon and Guy Easterby, one Croatian, Frano Botica, two American, David Hodges and Luke Gross and two Tongans, Salesi Finau and Johnny Koloi and one Canadian Jamie Cudmore. The first Llanelli players to play for Wales were Harry Bowen and Alfred Cattell who played against England in 1882.
Llanelli have played all the major touring countries including New Zealand Maoris, New Zealand All Blacks, Canada, South Africa, Australia, Tonga, Fiji, Western Samoa and Romania, and some of their greatest achievements have been against these countries having defeated all of them except for South Africa.
Llanelli have also toured abroad to such places as France, Russia, Germany, Italy, Jersey, South Africa, Canada, Spain, Australia, Fiji , USA. Hungary and Slovenia
Llanelli have provided 14 players to the British Lions test team plus 7 other players to the Lions Squad and three ex-players in Carwyn James (Coach), Alun Thomas (Manager) and Clive Rowlands (Manager) of the British Lions tours of 1971, 1974 and 1989 respectively.
Eighteen Llanelli players have captained Wales, the latest being Scott Quinnell v South Africa on 26/11/00 and David Hodges was the current U.S.A. captain prior to his retirement on 03.07.04.
Llanelli’s oldest living player is still to be established since the death of Rees Thomas on 09/07/04 at the age of 100.
31 October 1972: Llanelli 9 – 3 New Zealand
14 November 1992: Llanelli 13 – 9 Australia
21 players have scored 100+ tries for the Club including
- Andy Hill (312 tries)
- Ieuan Evans (193 tries)
- Ray Gravell (120 tries)
Roll of Honour
- Western Mail Welsh Club Champions 1896/97; 1927/28; 1930/31; 1932/33; 1967/68; 1973/74; 1976/77; 1990/91
- WRU Heineken League Champions 1992/93
- WRU League Champions 1998/99, 2001/2002
- Whitbread Merit Table Champions 1988/89
- WRU Cup Winners 1972/73; 1973/74; 1974/75; 1975/76; 1984/85; 1987/88; 1990/91; 1991/92; 1992/93; 1997/98; 99/00, 2002/03, 2004/05, 2009/10
- Floodlight Alliance Trophy Champions 1967/68 to 1972/73 (6 consecutive seasons)
- National 7-a-side Winners 1968; 1971
- Snelling Sevens 1960; 1971; 1973; 1977; 1988
- Harlequin Sevens Winners 1969; 1988
- WRU Challenge Trophy Winners 1999
- 2010/11 Principality Premiership Champions
1992/93 season was a fantastic season winning the Heineken WRU League, WRU Cup, defeating the World Champions, Australia and being awarded the “Best Team in Britain” trophy, and the Best Match programme in Britain
Llanelli R.F.C. became a semi professional club at the start of 2003/04 season.