192pp + 16pp plate section
rugby spellbound people'
knew immediately that I would enjoy Gwyn Prescott's account of
how the game of rugby not only came to Cardiff but conquered
it...The details are richly satisfying...The story is
engrossing...First and foremost Prescott has written a history
of Cardiff...If you have any nostalgia for those days when one
eagerly crossed Westgate Street to get to a game this is the
book for you."
his scrupulously researched, well written and admirably
economical work...Gwyn Prescott has given [rugby in Wales] a history to
be proud of."
a fascinating piece of research and a major contribution to the
history of rugby, not just in Wales but generally."
excellent book is a reminder to historians of the value of a
detailed study of one sport in one place"
most assiduous archival research and rigorous command of the
skills of the social historian...a book that also has
significant implications for the historiography of rugby..."
rugby is your thing...then get yourself a copy of Gwyn
Prescott's account of the social, cultural and economical impact
of rugby football on the people of South Wales...a detailed and
fascinating study of the way in which rugby embedded itself in
the fabric of Cardiff society and the villages and towns of
South Wales, transforming itself from a fringe activity confined
to the middle classes, to the the mass-participation sport it
became in the twentieth-Century."
Prescott paints a meticulous picture of Welsh rugby's growth in
the 1890s rugby football was contributing to an expressive
local, civic, even national consciousness: Cardiffians, who have
that endearing habit of equating Cardiff with Wales, were
talking of rugby as 'the national game' as early as 1879...Gwyn
Prescott's study shows how rugby became a key component of the
new urban culture that developed along with it...He traces, from
an exploration of a wide array of hitherto unused primary
resources, the emergence and organisation of a robust
infrastructure of socially inclusive teams and clubs in inner,
dockside and suburban Cardiff...the late, great Bleddyn Williams
of Cardiff and Wales, a relative of the author's...would have
enjoyed reading Gwyn Prescott's book. So will
December 1905, The Irish Times dispatched a reporter to cover
the All Blacks game
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
this, the first detailed and original historical study of rugby
a local level in Wales, Gwyn Prescott draws on previously unused
sources to provide fresh insights into the origins and early
years of the game in Wales. It
also throws new light both on the significance of Cardiff to
Welsh rugby in the nineteenth century and on the importance of
rugby in Cardiff.
the grass roots, the game was dominated by neighbourhood clubs,
largely involving working-class and lower middle-class players
and administrators, rather than by institutional teams organised
by social improvers. At the highest level of competition, an
emphasis on civic pride meant that success on the field was more
important than social exclusivity. The game was played and
supported, therefore, by representatives of all classes within
the town which led to rugby becoming the dominant sporting force
in what was to become the capital city of Wales.