Press Releases 2016

University of Wales Trinity Saint David celebrated Lampeter as the birthplace of rugby in Wales


Lampeter celebrated its place in rugby history marking 150 years since the town hosted the first ever competitive rugby match to be played in Wales.

On Wednesday, March 23rd, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David hosted a range of rugby related events organised to commemorate Lampeter’s contribution to the sport.

The 2015 /2016 season is the 150th anniversary of the first competitive rugby match ever played in Wales between St David’s College (now UWTSD) and nearby Llandovery College.

It is widely accepted that rugby was introduced to Wales by the Rev. Professor Rowland Williams, who became Vice-Principal of St David’s College in 1850 and who’d played Rugby Football as a student at Kings College, Cambridge.  The Welsh Rugby Union has also given the anniversary celebration its full support, acknowledging Lampeter’s importance to the birth of rugby in Wales.

With articles in the University’s archives featuring former students reminiscing about playing rugby at Lampeter in the 1850s, rugby matches were certainly thought to have been played between students from 1850 onwards, although the first competitive match using the rugby rules wasn’t played until 1866.

A centenary event was held in 1966 that featured a rugby match between St David’s College and an Invitational Welsh XV which featured some of the era’s greats, including former UWTSD Carmarthen lecturer, the late Carwyn James; former UWTSD Carmarthen student, Barry John as well as Wales legend, Delme Thomas, now a fellow of the University.

Fifty years on, the University organised special rugby fixtures between the University and the invitational side, Welsh Academicals.

A book, written by local historian, Selwyn Walters was launched on the day and a memorial was unveiled on the University’s campus in the town to commemorate Rowland Williams’ contribution to Welsh rugby.  An exhibition featuring an array of St David’s College rugby related items was also be on display at the University’s Roderic Bowen Library.

“The 2015 / 2016 rugby season is a very special one for the University of Wales Trinity Saint David.  It marks the 150th anniversary of the first competitive game of rugby played in Wales as well as noting Rowland Williams’ contribution to the sport,” says the Venerable Randolph Thomas, Chair of the University Council.

“It is our aim to raise awareness of Lampeter’s connection with the game whilst also allowing University staff and students, the people of Lampeter and rugby fans across Wales to find out more about its history and its origin.  We are very proud of the University’s role in the development of rugby and are delighted to have marked the anniversary with a fitting celebration.”

Note to Editor

  1. For more information please contact Sian-Elin Davies, Senior PR and Communications Officer, on 01267 676908 / / 07449 998476