28 August 2017 / Club News

Focus on our Opponents - Pontypool RFC

On Saturday we take a step in to the unknown as we make our debut in the WRU Championship, at arguably the toughest place we will visit in the coming 9 months.  Below we take a look at our opponents, the 17th Premiership club in all but name, the world famous Pontypool RFC. 

Pontypool is a town situated on the Afon Lwyd with a population of approximately 36,000 people in the county borough of Torfaen. Situated on the eastern edge of the South Wales coalfields, Pontypool grew around industries including iron and steel production, coal mining and the growth of the railways.


Pontypool has a notable history as one of the earliest industrial towns in Wales. The town and its immediate surroundings were home to significant industrial and technological innovations, with links to the iron industry dating back to the early fifteenth century when a bloomery furnace was established at Potymoile. During the sixteenth century, largely due to the influence of the Hanbury family, the area developed its association with the iron industry and continued to consolidate its position in the seventeenth century, when the development of the town began in earnest. Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the metallurgical and extractive industries of the area, along with the development of the canals and railways, provided the impetus to the expansion of Pontypool and its surrounding villages and communities.


Pontyppol Rugby Football Club is one of the town's cornerstones. Founded in the 1870s, the club became a founder member of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1881. Under the captaincy of Terry Cobner the intervening years saw 'Pooler' become one of the great teams of Welsh rugby. The legendary 'Pontypool Front Row' in the 1970s, of Bobby Windsor, Charlie Faulkner and Graham Price was immortalised in song by Max Boyce. The club's contribution to Wales was seen again in 1983, when Pontypool's "forward factory" produced five of the Welsh pack in the Five Nations Championship.

Full Club Honours List

·         1903-04; 1906-07 Monmouthshire League Champions

·         1913-14; 1920–21; 1931–32; 1958–59; 1972–73; 1974–75;1983-84; 1984–85; 1985–86; 1987-88 Welsh Unofficial Club Champions.(10 times)

·         1982-83 Welsh Cup - Winners

·         1990-91 WRU Challenge Cup Runners-Up

·         2001-02 Welsh National League Division 1 - Runners-Up

·         2002-03 Welsh National League Division 1 - Champions

·         2007-08 WRU Division One East - Champions

·         2016-17 WRU National Championship - Champions


Pontypool RFC is now a feeder club to Dragons Rugby regional team and play their home matches at Pontypool Park. Their traditional home kit is Red, White and Black hooped shirt and socks with white shorts, although they did gradually shift to wearing black shorts post-2003.

Pontypool were relegated from the Welsh Division 1 at the end of the 1995 season. In the 1997/98 season, they avoided relegation to Division 2 with a last day 14-8 win over UWIC.

In February 2002 whilst still playing in Division 1, Pontypool defeated Swansea RFC, the then reigning Welsh/Scottish Champions, 16-14 in a pulsating Principality Cup clash at Pontypool Park. They went on to lose narrowly to Ebbw Vale RFC (22-27) in the quarter final.

In May 2002 Pontypool and Aberavon RFC finished at the top of Division 1 on the same number of league points and the same number of tries but the Wizards took the title on a better for/against points ratio. Aberavon then faced a two-legged play-off with Caerphilly, who had been relegated from the Premier Division. Aberavon lost the play-off (66-27 on aggregate) and remained in Division 1 for the 2002/3 season. The controversial play-off system was scrapped after this season.

In May 2003, the same scenario as the previous season occurred with both Pontypool and Aberavon locked in a two-horse race for the title. Due to the clubs' original January fixture being rearranged, the league title would be decided in a winner-takes-all clash at the Talbot Athletic Ground on 13 May 2003. Pontypool defeated Aberavon 40-12 and were crowned Welsh National League Division One Champions for season 2002-2003.

Pontypool were promoted to the Premier Division in 2003. However, due to the restructuring of Welsh rugby, this league would become secondary to the new Celtic League. Pontypool became a feeder club for the Newport Gwent Dragons regional team.

In May 2006 Pontypool finished bottom of the Premier Division and were relegated to Division One East.

The Last Decade

2007-08 – Division 1 East – 1st (89pts)

In the 2007/08 season Pontypool beat Beddau, the then Division One Champions, at Pontypool Park by 53-9 and were declared champions of Division One East and gained promotion to the Premiership Division unopposed as WRU Division One West champions, Tonmawr RFC, failed to achieve criteria laid out by the Welsh Rugby Union to allow membership of the Premier Division. Therefore, Tonmawr were not invited to contest the single promotion place against Pontypool RFC in a play off game.

2008-09 – Premiership – 13th (41pts)

In their 1st season back at the top table of league rugby Pontypool found things tough going, finishing in 13th position, level on points with Bridgend RFC at the foot of the table.   

2009-10 – Premiership – 13th (36pts)

A 2nd tough season again finished in a 13th position finish, this time a comfortable 8 points above Ebbw Vale RFC and just 4 short of 12th placed Glamorgan Wanderers.

2010-11 - Premiership – 12th (38pts)

Another season at the foot of the table this time resulted in Pooler finishing in 1 place higher in the table, above both Glamorgan Wanderers and Llandovery.

2011-12 - Premiership – 12th (47pts)

With Welsh rugby about to go through another shake up, Pontypool replicated their 12th place finishing above both basement club Tonmawr and Bedwas.

It was announced in September 2011 that the Premier Division would be reduced to 10 teams for the 2012-13 season. The teams for the league would be decided on three factors. Firstly, the holding of an 'A Licence' based on stadium criteria. The signing of a 'Participation Agreement' and judged on league results over the previous six seasons.

It was announced that four clubs, Pontypool, Tonmawr, Bridgend and Carmarthen had not achieved the required criteria to be included into the new league. However, pressure from Ospreys and Scarlets backers led to the league being extended to 12 teams with Bridgend and Camarthen included. Tonmawr, citing financial reasons, opted not to take part in the new league at all and re-entered themselves into Division Six.

2012-13 – Championship – 12th (36pts)

Pontypool started the 2012/13 season poorly, losing all but one of their first twenty matches. However, their fortunes improved towards the end of the season, winning six of their last seven games. Pontypool ended the season in 12th place, above the two relegation places.

2013-14 – Championship – 4th (83pts)

After a summer of recruitment and hard work off the field 2013-14 was the start of the resurgence of the club.  A strong campaign resulted in a 4th place finish, joint with RGC on 83 points and just 3 points behind Cardiff Met.

2014-15 & 15/16– Championship – 5th (77/94pts)

A solid campaign in 2014-15 seen Pooler secure another top 5 finish which they repeated again in the 15/16 season.  With the core of the squad remaining loyal the settled squad began to show signs of what was on the horizon the following season.  Just 6 losses in 26 games and all 6 to sides finishing in the top 4 positions. 

2016-17 – Championship – 1st (98pts)

Last season’s Championship was a one-horse race from the moment Pooler disposed of Narberth on the opening day of the season by 40-6.  Narberth went on to finish 2nd in the Championship, losing just 4 more games all season, including the reverse fixture v Pontypool.  In fact Pooler only lost a single game all season, the final fixture in March when they visited struggling Cardiff Met 30-22, with the Championship title already in the bag.  Pooler also had a superb win in the WRU Cup when they overcame Cardiff RFC by 32-43 before being beaten by Cross Keys in the following round.

Notable former players

Pontypool RFC have had many former players go on to international honours, some of the more recognisable are:

Eddie Butler, Terry Cobner, Graham Price, Mark Ring, Clive Rowlands, Charlie Faulkner, Mark Taylor, Kevin Ellis, Paul Turner, David Watkins, Byron Hayward, Bobby Windsor & Ken Jones

For a full list of former PRFC internationals see

Past Meetings

With our clubs having spent the majority of our histories at different ends of the league system there has never been a meeting between our clubs.


Information in the above review taken from various websites:,,

There doesn't appear to be any tagged photos.

Upload and Tag Photos

You must be signed in to add comments