Crynant Rugby Club

Rugby in Wales

About Us

54 Main Road, Crynant, Neath, SA10 8NP.

(01639) 750297

 

Crynant Rugby Club is situated in the 'heart' of the village on the main road. There is ample parking at the rear and is situated less than 100 yards from their two rugby pitches and it's modern changing room facilities.

The Club has a bar, lounge and boasts a large function hall that can hold in excess of 150 people which, subject to availability, is available for private functions such as weddings, birthday parties, discos, etc. and has on offer a fine selection of beers, largers and spirits.

As well as recounting the history of Crynant Rugby Club, it would probably be of benefit to learn where Crynant is.

Crynant lies six miles to the north of the town of Neath in West Glamorgan. The road travels straight along the old canal bed towards Aberdulais where the road forks. To the right you follow the Vale of Neath and to the left you come into the Dulais Valley, the first village you come to is Crynant.

There is no mistaking it is a South Wales village founded on coal, but unlike the communities of the Rhondda, the beuty of its surrounding hills has been hardly tarnished. In fact, the greatest despoliation has been by the Forestry Commission whose uniform plantation of conifers have to a great extent obliterated the variegated hues of pasture, bracken and indigenous tress that were once there. The hills are not too steep and as high as many mining villages, nor is the valley bottom packed with rows of terraced houses. The village was an ideal compromise between industry and nature. You would never have to ask, “How green was my valley? “; it always was green; its pits and slagheaps never encroaching on the landscape to such a degree to dominate it.

Crynant once had three collieries in operation.  First there was Crynant Colliery, better known as Mountain Colliery, since it was a drift mine driven into the side of Hir Fynydd (long mountain), the mountain which divides the Dulais valley from the Vale of Neath.  Then there was the old Blaenant in the centre of the village.  Which was called Gwaith Jebb (Jebb`s Colliery) after the man who started it.

Like the true Cockney who can only be born in the sound of Bow Bells, a true son of Crynant was said to be born within the sound of the pumping engine of old Blaenant. It would thump away continuously, night and day, and everyone was used to it.  If it had stopped suddenly in the middle of the night, everyone would have been woken up by the deafening silence.

The other colliery in the village was Cefn Coed, opened in 1930 it was, at that time, the deepest mine shaft in the world. I was know as "The Slaughterhouse" because so many men were killed there in mining accidents but, the opening brought a boost to the village in the depressed 30's and as a consequence of it's operation a new estate was built to house the newcomers to the village who came to work in the mine. It comprised of The Crescent, Mary Street and Lewis Road, but all three were popularly known as The Crescent. The residents had to wait 15 years before a proper road surface was laid down - we used to be a patient nation.

Crynant Rugby Club was certainly in existence in 1898 as it is on record that on Christmas day of this year a game was played against Ystradgynlais on a field where the Welfare Hall now stands.

In 1904 however, the religious revival came to Wales and the club stopped playing for four years. The club started up again in 1908 with Ralph Challinor taking on the role of Secretary with their headquarters in the Red Lion Hotel and their games played on Maesmawr field which was owned by the club's first captain, Arthur Jones.

In 1912 the club joined the Swansea & District League and moved to the Star Hotel which became their home for the next fifty years.

After the interruption of the First World War, Crynant joined the Neath & District League and were to make their mark in this league winning the championship no less than five consequtive times between 1922 and 1926.

In 1928 Crynant were granted membership of the Welsh Rugby Union and in the same year the West Wales League was formed.

A major mile-stone in the club's history was the year 1939. In the January of that year Cyril Challinor was chosen to play for Wales against England in Twickenham. However, a Welsh loss led to sweeping changes by the selectors and Cyril was dropped. It was to be his first and last cap as the Second World War commenced that year and by the time it finished he was too old to revive his first class rugby career.

The Crynant Harlequins were formed in the 1940's but at this time they were a rival club to Crynant RFC but despite much rivalry the two clubs mereged forces in May 1950.

The 1950's are said to be Crynant's 'golden era' when they won the Championship Shield three times, the President's Cup three times and the League Cup twice. Out of 227 games played they only lost 44.

1956 saw the opening of the club's new (and existing) pitch which was adjacent to Maesmawr field. This new ground had dressing rooms and embankments for spectators. Soon afterwards Crynant RFC were to acquire their own club-house when, on the site of the existing club, a empty shop and billiard hall became vacant it was converted into a social club and for the first time in over 60 years the club had a premises they could call 'home'.

Throughout the 1960's the club had little success to cheer about but a bright moment emerged in 1967 when a fourth former Crynant player, Ron Jones, was capped for Wales and between 1967 and 1968 gained a total of 5 caps.

The 1968/69 saw the birth of the Youth team under the guidance of the club's treasurer Jackie Thomas and this gave a new lease of life to the club as they looked after these lads, most of whom would then move up to the senior sides.

The Youth policy paid dividends when, during 1970/71 three Crynant youngsters (Ness Flowers, Robert Lewis and Stephen Simpson) were chosen to play for Wales at schoolboy level.

During 1971 the club had another claim to fame when their long standing Secretary, Rhys Emlyn Williams, was elected President of the W.R.U.

 Rhys Emlyn Williams

The following season (1972/73) was regarded as another great year for the club when the senior team carried off four trophies, the Championship Shield, the President's Cup, the O.G. Davies Cup and the Eurof Davies Cup.

 

1972/73 Squad

In the late 1970's the club became associated with the French team Alencon and both club's have been regular visitors to each other's clubs ever since.

The 1980's would be a year when the Youth team would out shine the senior side winning the Neath & District Championship and Cup.

1982 was a sad year for Crynant when Rhys Emlyn Williams passed away. He had been secretary for the club since 1927 and had made a considerable contribution to Welsh rugby as the President of the W.R.U.  However two weeks before Rhys died Barry Michael, the former chairman, was elected as the WRU Representative for District `E`, the very same position Rhys had held in 1948, this meant that Crynant RFC had had a member serving on The WRU General Committee for over 50 continuous years, which is probably unique in Welsh rugby.

The 1980's and 1990's have been tough years for the Social club. In February 1983 fire ravaged the living quarters of the club and caused extensive damage to the bar room beneath. The club was grossly under insured and although rebuilding work started immediately a very large sum of money had to be borrowed from the clubs Brewers. The loan repayments meant that the club was not generating a surplus, matters worsened when Blaenant Colliery closed and members became redundant.

The clubhouse deteriorated and the committee was forced to run the club themselves, and on one occasion the club were so much in debt the members had to buy the beer from the brewery out of their own pockets.  In 2003, thanks to those members, a very hard working committee and an exceptional Ladies section, the club is no longer in debt and has just spent nearly £30k in refurbishment.

The high-lights were the Centenary celebrations in 1995-96 when matches were arranged with Swansea, Neath and Llanelli. In addition, Mark Bennett added a Welsh Senior cap to his collection of Welsh Schools and Under 21 caps.

The Game became Professional in the late 90s but the Crynant club choose to remain amateur, we are after all, a small village club and we shall continue to develop young talent to supplement the many players who have gained International honours at all levels.

Whilst the last two decades have been tough years for the club, as well as the game in general in Wales,  if the cycle of Crynant's rugby history follows form then the club will re-surface as contenders for championship titles and cups again - soon!

 

  

 

The Crynant badge was designed in 1951 by Jack Mainwaring, a local teacher. The star in the left hand corner represents the Star Hotel and the wavey lines represent the river Creunant that runs through the village. Legend has it that these lines are coloured red to denote the colour of the water as a slaughter house used to be on the edge of the river at the bottom of Maes Mawr Road and the blood from the slaughter house used to run into the river, turning it red. Prominantly placed on the badge is a white horse which apparantly refers to the mountain of March Hywel which overlooks the village and means Hywel's Stallion, The club's motto is "Digon yw Chwarau" which, in English, means "it is enough to play".