|Full name||Pontypridd Rugby Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||Ponty, The Valley Commandos|
|Location||Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf, Wales|
|Ground(s)||Sardis Road (Capacity: 7,861)|
|Chairman||Roger E. Davies|
|Most caps|| Bob Penberthy
|Top scorer|| Neil Jenkins
|Most tries|| Karl Swain
Established in 1876, Pontypridd RFC play their home games on the banks of the River Rhondda, at Sardis Road, Pontypridd, Rhondda Cynon Taf in Wales, with their age-grade section playing at Taff Vale Park in Pontypridd, and Pontypridd High School Fields in nearby Cilfynydd.
Pontypridd RFC experienced a successful period during the mid-nineties under head coach, Dennis John, referred to as the club's "Golden Age", and saw a resurgence during the 2000/01, 2001/02 and 2002/03 seasons with the appointment of head coach, Lynn Howells. The transition to Regional Rugby in Wales in 2003 saw the downgrading of Pontypridd to a semi-professional team, followed by the eventual financial collapse of the Club, and subsequent demise of Pontypridd's "Celtic Warriors" region.
- 1 Club history
- 2 Club shield
- 3 Sponsorship
- 4 Statistics
- 5 Team Management, Players & Former Players
- 5.1 Team Management
- 5.2 Players
- 5.3 International players
- 5.4 Notable Former players
- 6 Games played against international opposition
- 7 Pontypridd youth and junior teams
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 External links
- 11 Bibliography
Pontypridd RFC are generally accepted to have been formed in 1876 by a number of young local men who had moved into the area during the Industrial Revolution of the late 19th century. They were represented at a meeting in Tenby in 1880 that would later lead to the formation of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881 and had a player, Edward Treharne, named in the very first Welsh International side also in 1881, who also played for Cowbridge Grammar School as a student. Pontypridd supplied two more players to the Welsh team before the turn of the century, Tom Williams and Ernie George.
In their early days, Pontypridd RFC played their home games at Taff Vale Park in Treforest, the current home of their junior section, before moving to the People's Park alongside the River Rhondda. However in 1908 they moved once more to a new home in Ynysyngharad Park in Pontypridd itself, where they would stay for 65 years.
1945 – 1989
Pontypridd have long been regarded as one of the more unfashionable Welsh clubs, and during this period were over-shadowed by the more prominent Welsh clubs, Llanelli, Swansea, Neath, Cardiff and Newport, known collectively as the Big Five. Players with Pontypridd often found it hard to break into the international team while at the club, meaning a number would leave for higher profile teams each season. Despite this the club were consistently successful, achieving a long line of top ten finishes in the unofficial Welsh league, a competition they won for the first time in the 1962/1963 season.
However the 1970s would bring Pontypridd its first period of real success. Following the redevelopment of the A470 trunk road near their home ground, the team moved to its current home of Sardis Road in Pontypridd in 1974. This move was immediately followed by success in the unofficial league championship, winning it in 1975/76, 1977/78 and 1978/79 whilst never falling from the top four for seven years under the captaincy of two of Pontypridd's greatest ever players – Bob Penberthy and Tommy David.
1990 – 2002
The 1990s saw a huge change in Welsh rugby, especially with the inauguration of the first official Welsh leagues in 1990. Pontypridd were placed in the top (first) division for that season and have never yet been out of the top-level in the Welsh game. They consistently finished in the top five, which was considered an achievement due to the stature and pedigree of the clubs they finished among. Third places in 1991/92, 1993/94 and 1995/96 plus a runner up finish to Cardiff RFC in 1994/95 was a promising return for the club.
In 1996 the club won its first official major honour, beating Neath RFC in the final of the Welsh Cup, a match still considered one of the best ever. They repeated this achievement again in 2002 and 2006. The following season (1997) saw them win the Welsh League, narrowly over the same opponents. Both of these successes were obtained by what many consider Pontypridd's best ever team, led by Nigel Bezani and including players such as Richie Collins, Neil Jenkins, Paul John and Dale McIntosh.
From then until 2003 Pontypridd consistently finished in the top five of the league but failed to challenge for top spot (and to qualify for the Heineken Cup – Europe's top tournament) as they struggled to cope with the added financial pressures of the newly professional game, losing a number of players to larger clubs and relying heavily upon their much admired youth academy system. However in 2003 the Welsh Rugby Union would change the game in Wales forever with the advent of Welsh Regional Rugby.
2003 – present
After much negotiation and rumour of a merger with local rivals Cardiff RFC, Pontypridd finally found themselves in a partnership with Bridgend RFC, forming the Celtic Warriors that would represent the whole of the South Wales Valleys region.
However financial difficulties at Pontypridd lead the team to sell its stake in the Warriors to Bridgend RFC benefactor Leighton Samuel and all games were moved away from Sardis Road before the club was controversially dissolved by the WRU in the summer of 2004.
They were then reformed as Ponty Rugby Ltd playing at a semi professional level in the newly formed Welsh Premiership and unpopularly placed under the umbrella of local rivals Cardiff Blues by the WRU, Pontypridd continue to be the top team in the Glamorganshire south Wales Valleys and are considered by many of their fans to be the Valleys' regional representative side, with Cardiff still perceived by the residents of the Valleys as rivals.
In 2005 Pontypridd were beaten finalists in the WRU Challenge Cup, narrowly losing to Llanelli 24–25, having been leading 24–8 with only 10 minutes remaining until a former Pontypridd player Neil Boobyer was brought into the game and helped turn them game around in Llanelli's favour.
The following year they would surpass their previous season's record as Saturday 6 May 2006 Pontypridd beat Neath 26–25 to win the WRU Challenge Cup (then called the Konica Minolta Cup, and currently called the SWALEC Cup after the sponsors of the tournament) in a well fought final at the Millennium Stadium. Neath were pre-match favourites having recently secured the Welsh Premier league by a large points margin, and going into the game chasing a league and cup 'double'. This was a replay of the classic 1996 final, when Pontypridd had also stopped Neath RFC 'doing the double'.
17 May 2008 saw Pontypridd enter a repeat performance against Neath at the Millennium Stadium. The score, however, was not to be repeated, as Neath beat Pontypridd by 28 points to 22.
In 2010/11 the Swalec Cup was secured after victory over Aberavon by 35 points to 24 at the Millennium Stadium and Ponty finished in first place in the Principality Premiership with 107 points but with play-offs to crown the overall league champions introduced they lost in the final at Sardis Road against 3rd placed Llanelli to deny Ponty a historic double, reaching the Semi-Finals of the British & Irish Cup before losing to eventual winners Bristol was also a fine achievement.
The Club again reached two finals the following season, losing to Cross Keys in the final of the Swalec Cup by 32 points to 19 on May 7, 2012 before being crowned Welsh Champions for the first time in 15 years after a 2nd successive first place finish in the Principality Premiership this time led to a Play-Off final win over Llanelli at Sardis Road on May 18. The club also made the Quarter-Finals of the British & Irish Cup, losing away to Leinster 'A'.
The 2012/13 season was arguably the most successful in the club's history as Ponty won an historic league and cup double. First beating Neath in the final of the Swalec Cup on May 4, 2013 by 34 points to 13 and then after finishing 23 points clear in the Principality Premiership with 21 wins from 22 matches they secured the title in style by defeating Llanelli in the Play-Off Final at Sardis Road on May 18 by 47 points to 15.
Despite remaining successful at the highest level attainable by a non-regional side, Pontypridd RFC has seen a huge loss in their fan base due to the disenfranchisement of Welsh rugby supporters in the Valleys over to the appointment of Cardiff Blues as their 'regional' team. Yet despite this, Pontypridd's hardcore support base remains one of the biggest club followings in Wales, with chants of "I will never be a blue" ringing out at matches alongside the more traditional "Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole! Ponty! Ponty!"
Pontypridd RFC continue to earn plaudits for the incredible contribution they have made to International Rugby. Former Pontypridd players seen wearing the red of Wales in recent years include Gethin Jenkins, Kevin Morgan, Richard Parks, Michael Owen, Martyn Williams, Dafydd James, Mefin Davies, Brent Cockbain, Robert Sidoli, Sonny Parker, Ceri Sweeney, Jonathan Bryant, Ian Evans, Matthew Rees and Morgan Stoddart.
The chevrons are an interpretation of the ancient arms of Iestyn ap Gwrgant, the last ruler of the Kingdom of Morgannwg. The de Clare family – Norman Lords of the Welsh Marches, under whose authority the ancient shire of Glamorgan was placed – used a similar design to Gwrgant's arms. Both sets of chevrons were once seen on the coat of arms of Mid Glamorgan County Council, in which the town of Pontypridd was situated prior to the Local Government Act of 1994.
An identical chevron design is now seen in the coat of arms of Rhondda Cynon Taf County Borough Council, which superseded Mid Glamorgan.
|Development of the Pontypridd RFC Club shield|
Pontypridd's most notable main sponsor was local company, Buy as you View. The company began life as Just Rentals in Tonypandy in 1976, and sponsored Pontypridd RFC from the early nineties until 2004. It employed numerous former players, including Neil Jenkins and Lee Beach and ran the Buy As You View Schools Rugby Initiative, working in partnership with Pontypridd RFC.
Pontypridd's main sponsor from 2004 to 2009 was Pontypridd-based environmental and waste management company, Egan Waste Services.
In 2009, Pontypridd-based company Amber Electrical become the club's main sponsors in a highly publicised partnership deal.
2010 saw Egan Waste Services step up their support of Pontypridd by becoming the Club's main sponsors once more.
Club kit has been supplied by numerous firms, including Umbro, Hogger Sports, Cica, Rossco, Canterbury of New Zealand, Kukri Sports and Errea. Since October 2012, club kit has been supplied by Martin Johnson's Rhino Rugby.
Western Mail Welsh Championship Champions – 1962/1963, 1975/1976, 1977/1978, 1978/1979
WRU Merit Table Champions – 1975/1976
WRU Merit Table Runners Up – 1977/1978, 1978/1979
Welsh Premier Division Champions – 1996/1997, 2011/2012, 2012/2013
Welsh Premier Division 1st Place - 2010/11 (Play-Off Final Runners-Up)
Welsh Premier Division Runners Up – 1994/1995, 2010/11
Welsh Cup Champions – 1995/1996, 2001/2002, 2005/2006, 2010/11, 2012/2013
Welsh Cup Runners Up – 1978/1979, 1994/1995, 1996/1997, 2004/2005, 2007/2008, 2011/12
Champions Challenge Cup Winners – 1996/97
WRU Challenge Trophy Winners - 1997/98
WRU Challenge Trophy Runners-Up - 1998/99
Heineken European Cup Quarter-Finalists - 1998/99
European Rugby Shield Runners Up – 2001/2002
European Rugby Shield Semi-Finalists- 2002/03
British & Irish Cup Semi-Finalists - 2010/11
Abercynon 7's Tournament Winners - 2008, 2009, 2010
WRU National 7's Tournament Winners - 2013
Team Management, Players & Former Players
Pontypridd RFC have been led by a number of high-profile coaches since the 1980s, Clive Jones – a prominent figure in Treorchy RFC's 1993/94 Heineken League successes – was instrumental in ensuring Pontypridd's place in the top tier during the latter part of the eighties.
In 1992, Dennis John took over as head coach, assisted by former Pontypridd flanker, Lynn Howells, and led Pontypridd into what is widely regarded as their "Golden Age", with Ponty winning the Welsh Cup Final in the 1995/96 season, and winning the Welsh Premier League in the 1996/97 season.
With the departure of John in 1999, former Pontypridd and Wales flanker, Richie Collins became head coach, and while some significant scalps – notably a win over Heineken Cup winners Leicester in 2000 – came his way, his tenure in charge was short-lived.
In September 2001, Clive Jones rejoined Pontypridd as Director of Rugby, and had, by December 2001, brought Lynn Howells back from Cardiff, who then proceeded to marshal the club to become Principality Cup winners in May 2002 and guided the team to the final of the Parker Pen European Shield days later. The advent of Regional Rugby in 2003 saw Howells depart to become coach of parent-region, the Celtic Warriors, with former Pontypridd flanker, Justin Burnell filling the void.
Burnell's departure in 2004 was followed by the appointment of former Pontypridd flanker, Simon King who, along with assistant coach, former Pontypridd and Wales captain and scrum-half Paul John, guided Pontypridd to the final of the Konica Minolta Cup in 2004/05, before winning it in 2005/06.
Paul John took over as head coach in at the commencement of the 2006/07 season, and, assisted by former Pontypridd and Wales back row, Dale McIntosh, led the club to the final of the Konica Minolta Cup in 2007/08.
During May 2010, it was decided that Paul John and Dale McIntosh would switch roles, as the demands on John in his capacity as Head Coach of the Wales Sevens team were becoming too great. Dale McIntosh therefore leads Pontypridd into the 2010/11 season as Head Coach, while Paul John assumes the mantle of Assistant Coach.
Notable former management staff
- Billy Griffiths (Coach)
- Clive Jones (Coach & Director of Rugby)
- Dennis John (Coach)
- Lynn Howells (Coach & Assistant Coach)
- Richie Collins (Coach)
- Justin Burnell (Coach)
- Simon King (Coach)
- Steele Lewis (Assistant Coach)
- Mike Griffiths (Scrummaging Coach)
- Nigel Bezani (Team Manager)
- Eddie Jones (Team Manager)
- Gary Jones (Team Manager)
- Dale McIntosh (Coach)
Senior International Players
Senior International Sevens Players
- Adam Thomas
- Gareth Wyatt
- Gavin Dacey
- Lewis Williams
- Matthew Nuthall
- Owen Williams
- Rhys Shellard
- Owen Jenkins
FIRA AER International Sevens Players
- Owen Williams
- Jordan Sieniawski
Under 20 International Players
Notable Former players
- See also Category:Pontypridd RFC players
Games played against international opposition
Pontypridd youth and junior teams
With the loss of their extremely successful Academy set up that was handed over to their Cardiff rivals by the WRU, Pontypridd RFC re-formed a Youth side in 2006, coached by Sean Oliver and Wayne Gristock (formerly Porth Harlequins RFC).
Starting in the bottom division of the Blues league, the side made notable progress that saw them punch well above their weight and earn the nickname the 'Upstarts', when after hugely successful first season that saw them promoted seven divisions to the BB League (Blues Second Division).
The following season saw the formation of a second Youth team who again had to start in the bottom league and were coached by former Pontypridd players Dai Legge and Mike Kelleher. By the end of the 2007/8 season both youth teams had won their perspective leagues outright and earned automatic promotion, with the senior youth now playing in the top division in only their third season since forming. Several youth players have gained notable honours, including representative honours with Welsh Crawshays and Welsh Schoolboys, with players in the Cardiff Blues Academy and several older players now training with Pontypridd RFC's senior team.
Behind this successful youth setup is the Pontypridd Mini & Junior Section that was formed in 1997, the section started out with just a handful of junior players and volunteer coaches, but has grown into one of the biggest and most successful junior sections in Wales. The section contains every age group from under 7's to under 16's, with the youth sides containing players under the age of 19; with almost 300 young players in their ever-swelling ranks. The section is hugely successful, winning dozens of tournaments and trophies each season, and competing successfully in international tournaments throughout Europe where they have won every foreign tournament they have entered.
At the commencement of the 2008/09 season, it was decided that both Senior and Junior Youth teams would merge, forming a large and capable new Pontypridd Youth section. The new season will see a single squad of thirty-five players being selected, playing in the 2008–09 RAF Youth League: Blues Region. The squad is coached by Wayne Gristock and Sean Oliver, and managed by Chris Kingsbury MBE.
Prior to the commencement of the 2010/11 season, notification was given of a major change in the running of the Youth section, as it was decided that the section would transfer from the hands of the Mini & Junior Rugby section, and would instead fall under the remit of the senior Team Management. The hope is to discover new stars of the future, who will regularly train alongside the main body of the senior XV, echoing the past achievements of the Pontypridd Youth setup in bringing Michael Owen, Gethin Jenkins and Ceri Sweeney, amongst others, to the attention of the World.