|Union||Welsh Rugby Union|
|Ground(s)||Parc y Scarlets (Capacity: 14,870)|
Llanelli Rugby Football Club (Welsh: Clwb Rygbi Llanelli) is a Welsh rugby union club founded in 1875 (though often recorded as 1872) Since the regionalisation of Welsh rugby Llanelli are now a feeder club to the Scarlets regional team.
The club began the 2008–09 season at their historic home ground of Stradey Park in Llanelli, but moved in November 2008 to the new Parc y Scarlets in adjacent Pemberton. Sosban Fach (Welsh for "little saucepan") is a nickname of Llanelli RFC; "Sosban Fach" is the name of a Welsh song, which is sometimes sung by the club's fans during matches as the club anthem. The team colours are scarlet and white.
The early years
Llanelli RFC was founded on 11 November 1875 when a group of local gentlemen met at the Athenaeum in Llanelli to form a rugby football club. Several sources state that Llanelli formed in 1872, and the club officially celebrated its centenary in 1972; though more recent information suggests that the centenary year was chosen to coincide with the visit of the 1972 touring All Blacks.
The first recorded match was played on 1 January 1876, against Cambria, a team based in Swansea. The result was a draw, but Llanelli were declared winners as they had grounded the ball defensively fewer times than their opponents. Their second match was against Swansea on 5 February 1876, another draw, played at Felinfoel.
During this early period the team played in blue shirts and blue caps at Peoples Park. Llanelli RFC moved to Stradey Park in 1879, switching their colours to blue and white in the same year. The team switched their colours three more times before 1884, adopting black, then rose before switching to red and chocolate quarters.
In 1884 Llanelli played an Irish XV who stopped off in the town, having played Wales in Cardiff a couple of days previously. In this match the team played in scarlet shirts, and this has remained the club's first colour ever since; it also led to the club's nickname "The Scarlets" and the name of the regional team (Scarlets) nearly 120 years later. Their first major trophies came in 1884 and 1886 with the South Wales Challenge Cup, the forerunner of the modern Welsh Cup. December 1888 saw the team beat a touring New Zealand Natives team by 3–0 with a dropped goal from Harry Bowen. The team claimed their first full international scalp in 1908 when they beat Australia 8–3. This would be the first of many famous victories over touring international sides. Players that wore the Scarlet jersey in this pre-war era included Albert Jenkins, who scored over 121 tries for the club as a centre.
After the war Lewis Jones was one of the stars of the game. He was capped by Wales aged just 18 in 1950, and was instrumental in their Grand Slam win that year. However just two years later, he switched codes from the then amateur rugby union to the professional rugby league and signed for Leeds for a then record amount of £6,000.
Success was however not away from Stradey for long, a victory over Australia came in 1967 and the club was about to enter what many would argue was its strongest era. Players at Llanelli during the 1970s included Ray Gravell, Gareth Jenkins, Delme Thomas, Phil Bennett, and Derek Quinnell; and the team was coached by Carwyn James and assisted by former captain and Wales international hooker Norman Gale.
The Day the Pubs Ran Dry
"9 – 3" is a poem by Welsh comedian and singer Max Boyce and refers to the match between Llanelli and the New Zealand All Blacks at Stradey Park in front of 26,000 supporters on 31 October 1972. Llanelli took a 6–0 lead through a converted try but New Zealand struck back to make it 6–3. A long distance Andy Hill penalty ensured Llanelli emerged victors by 9–3 and the crowd famously ran onto the pitch at the end and carried off players such as Delme Thomas. The poem is best known for the line "The day the pubs ran dry", as huge celebrations followed and many pubs in the town sold out of all alcoholic drinks.
The next notable period for Llanelli RFC was during the late 1980s and early 1990s. With players such as Ieuan Evans amongst the squad, Llanelli won the Welsh Cup five times in eight years between 1985 and 1993 including in consecutive seasons in 1991,1992 and 1993. They achieved their most recent success against international opponents when they beat Australia, the world champions at the time, in 1992. Rupert Moon was captain when they won the cup and league which earned Llanelli the title of Best Team in Britain for the 1992–1993 season as well as the nickname "Cup Kings of Wales" due to their success in the Welsh Cup. The late 1990s and early years of the 21st century also produced many Welsh internationals including Rupert Moon, Ricky Evans, Wayne Proctor, Scott Quinnell and Stephen Jones.
The side reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup three times: in 2000 against Northampton Saints who went on to win the trophy, in 2002 against Leicester Tigers and in 2007 against Leicester Tigers again. In the first match against Leicester, Llanelli appeared to be going to their first final as they led 12–10 in injury time. But Leicester were awarded a penalty 8 metres inside their own half; Tim Stimpson's kick for goal bounced off both the post and crossbar before just falling over the post to deny Llanelli.
Prior to the regional era, Llanelli RFC were considered the third most successful team in European club rugby, having played the third largest number of games (behind Toulouse and Munster) in the Heineken Cup due to the club's consistency in qualifying for the knockout stages of the tournament. However, they have never won the competition.
The regional era
Top-level professional rugby changed at Llanelli RFC in 2003 when Llanelli's first team rebranded, as part of the WRU's move to 5 professional teams, to Llanelli Scarlets and Llanelli RFC became the club's premiership brand. The Llanelli RFC team plays in the Welsh Premier Division and Welsh Cup. They won the cup in 2005, their first silverware in their new format during which time they were coached by Scott Quinnell.
As a link to the club's team anthem Sosban Fach, there were sosbenni on top of the uprights of both sets of posts at Stradey Park. The saucepans were installed at Parc y Scarlets.
When Llanelli RFC play Bath, it is tradition that a rag doll is hung from the crossbar, which the winning team then keeps until their next encounter. Llanelli RFC won the doll in 2002 and successfully defended it when they played Bath in the Powergen Cup semi-final in 2006. Bath reclaimed the prize in a pre-season game in August 2007 and have won three further fixtures.
The Scarlets play at Parc y Scarlets in Pemberton. From 1879 to 2008 they played at Stradey Park in Llanelli. Planning for the new stadium began in 2004.
- Welsh Premier Division: 1992/1993, 1998/1999, 2001/2002, 2010/2011
- Welsh Cup: 1973, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1985, 1988, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2010
- Snelling Sevens: 1960, 1971, 1973, 1979, 1988
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
British and Irish Lions
The following former players were selected for the British and Irish Lions touring squads whilst playing for Llanelli RFC.
Wales International Captains
The following former players captained the Wales national rugby union team while playing for Llanelli RFC.
See also Wales rugby union captains
Other notable former Llanelli players
Former Llanelli RFC players who have at some time represented Wales or toured with the British Lions.
- See also Category:Llanelli RFC players
Games played against international opposition
- Bevan, Alun Wyn (2005). Stradey Stories. Llandysul: Gomer Press. ISBN 978-1-84323-570-5.
- Hughes, Gareth (1983). One hundred years of Scarlet. Llanelli Rugby Football Club. ISBN 0-9509159-0-4.
- Hughes, Gareth (1986). The Scarlets: A History of Llanelli Rugby Club. Llanelli: Llanelli Borough Council. ISBN 0-906821-05-3.
- Smith, David; Williams, Gareth (1980). Fields of Praise: The Official History of The Welsh Rugby Union. Cardiff: University of Wales Press. ISBN 0-7083-0766-3.
- WRU Official Site – Sourced 4 July 2012
- The Welsh Academy Encyclopaedia of Wales John Davies, Nigel Jenkins, Menna Baines and Peredur Lynch (2008) pp782 ISBN 978-0-7083-1953-6
- Bevan (2005), pg 66.
- Bevan (2005), pg 67.
- The Rugby Clubs of Wales pp76-77, David Parry-Jones (1989) ISBN 0-09-173850-4
- "Day the pubs ran dry". BBC News. 31 October 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
- "Scarlets home in on stadium site". BBC. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
- Fiji Rugby.com Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Fiji Rugby.com Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
- Robert Cole (10 October 1995). "Wales brace themselves for the giants of Fiji". The Independent. Retrieved 20 June 2008.