Neath Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union club which plays in the Welsh Premier Division. The club's home ground is The Gnoll, Neath. The first team is known as the Welsh All Blacks because of the team colours: black with only a white cross pattée as an emblem. Neath RFC is the oldest rugby club in Wales, having been formed in 1871. They are feeder club to the Ospreys regional team.
Neath Rugby Football club was established in 1871 by a consortium of ten enthusiasts, their captain at the time, T. P. Whittington would later play international rugby for Scotland in 1873.
The club's nickname, 'The Welsh All Blacks', comes from their iconic strip of black jersey, shorts and socks with a white cross pattée. The origin of the team colours is not known for sure. Origally the club's players represented the team in various dark kits and the Cross pattée was introduced by one of their players, thought to have been E.C. Moxham, "to break the monotony". It is believed that the strip was later switched to the pure black kit as a mark of respect to player Dick Gordon, who died from injuries sustained on the field of play against Bridgend RFC in 1880.
On the 12th June 1881, eleven teams met in the Castle Hotel, Neath to form what would be accepted as a Welsh rugby union. The founding clubs of the WFU (Welsh Football Union), as it was originally known, were Swansea C & FC, Pontypool RFC, Newport RFC, Merthyr RFC, Llanelli RFC, Bangor RFC, Brecon RFC, Cardiff RFC, Lampeter College, Llandovery College and Llandeilo RFC. Strangely Neath RFC was not recorded as being present, even though the meeting took place in the town. It is unknown if this was an oversight by the committee to record the presence of the club, or if Neath RFC did not actually attend. One theory put forward is that the president, John Llewellyn and secretary, Sam Clark of the South Wales Football Union were both Neath men. By attending this new union they would be destroying the SWFU and therefore their own influence in the game. These wounds would soon heal and Neath joined the newly formed WFU in the 1882–83 season and would eventually become pivotal in the union's development, monopolizing the secretaryship from 1896 to 1955. Sam Clark would in turn become the first Welsh international from Neath RFC, playing in the second Wales game on 28 January 1882.
In 1887/88 Neath RFC undertook their first tour of the northern English clubs, including Hartlepool, Manningham and Wortley. The next season Neath played host to Widnes on Christmas Day before undertaking a further northern tour taking on a further five teams in six days. During the 1890/91 season a South West England tour was introduced, which would later become an annual fixture facing clubs such as Bristol and London Welsh.
Their 2008/09 cup winning season, in which they claimed a mighty victory over Llanelli at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. This was the first year since the cup name changed from Konica Minolta Cup to Swalec Cup.
Their 2007/08 championship season, their fourth in succession, was overshadowed by the death of scrum-half of Gareth Jones, on June 16, 2008. Jones had been injured in a match against Cardiff RFC on April 20.
Neath RFC hold the world record for the number of points (1,917) and tries (345) accumulated in one season (47 Games). This record was set during the 1988/89 season, it is also worth noting that a try was worth 4 points at the time the record was broken.
The record for the most tries scored in a game in the post-regional era (post 2002) is held by Richard Smith. In January 2010 against Kidwelly RFC Smith scored 7 tries. The pre-regional record of 6 tries is jointly held by Howie Jones (v Aberavon 1928/29), W.D. Williams (v B.P.Llandarcy 1949/50), Keith Maddocks (v Ebbw Vale 1956/57), Alan Edmunds (v Cross Keys 1989/90).
The company that runs Neath RFC is Neath Rugby Ltd and owns 50% of the Ospreys professional side.
In an effort to generate more income at their home stadium The Gnoll, the club announced in 2008, plans to share it with the town's football club Neath Athletic. This football team ceased trading at the end of the 2011-12 season due to financial difficulties.