'this rugby spellbound people'
Foreword by Prof. Gareth Williams
December 1905, The Irish Times dispatched a reporter to cover
the All Blacks game in Cardiff. Only a little over thirty years
earlier, apart from a few young middle-class blades who took
exercise by occasionally playing with an oval ball, the game of
rugby was barely known in the town. Yet following the historic
Welsh victory over New Zealand, that Irish journalist memorably
described the excited, good humoured and wildly enthusiastic
crowds he witnessed that day in and around the Arms Park as
"this rugby spellbound people."
He went on to declare that the Welsh were "undoubtedly the
best exponents of the game."
from the Introduction
researched [and] well written...Gwyn Prescott has given [rugby
in Wales] a history to be proud of."
Huw Richards, scrum.com
"Prescott paints a meticulous picture of Welsh rugby's growth in Victorian
fell in love with rugby over 100 years ago, and this national
love affair for the game remains as intense and intoxicating
today as it was in the late 1800s, when tens of thousands of
passionate and expectant supporters would make their way to the
Arms Park to see Wales play the best teams in the world and to
enjoy the famous match-day atmosphere in Cardiff’s bustling
Welsh obsession for rugby was already evident in 1899 when
supporters ‘packed’ Cardiff's Westgate Street ‘from
wall to wall’ for a Triple Crown decider against Ireland,
and an advocate of soccer in Cardiff commented in 1901: ‘to
carry one of those funny round balls through the streets meant
running the gauntlet of curious onlookers’.
was undoubtedly the sporting heartbeat of Cardiff with over 230
clubs in 1895; but how did this obsession with rugby grip
Cardiff and the industrial towns of south Wales, and why did the
Welsh quickly become ‘this rugby spellbound people’?
this new, expanded and heavily illustrated paperback edition,
Gwyn Prescott draws on previously unused sources to provide a
fresh and fascinating insight into the origins and early years
of the game in Cardiff. He outlines how its citizens of all
backgrounds, its many distinct districts, and its commercial and
religious interests took rugby to their hearts through the
growth of clubs, competitions and the
establishment of the famous Arms Park as the focal point
of rugby in Wales.
The Birth of Rugby in Cardiff and Wales is the essential guide to the importance of rugby in Cardiff and to the significance of Cardiff to the development of Welsh rugby in the nineteenth century.A native of Cardiff who played alongside Gareth Edwards in the 1965 Welsh Secondary Schools team and later played for Cambridge University, Gwyn Prescott was awarded an MPhil, on the history of rugby, by the University of Glamorgan. He is also the author of 'Call Them to Remembrance': The Welsh rugby internationals who died in the Great War, (St. David's Press).