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A Brief History of Cardiff HSOB RFC

The Cardiff High School Old Boys Rugby Football Club owes its existence - in part, at least, to a very early example of student power. Despite the fact that rugby has always been the National Game of Wales, for many years Cardiff High School (one of the country's leading schools) played soccer. As a result of unrelenting pressure from the students, the school authorities agreed  to adopt rugby as the main winter sport in 1921. At the end of the 1921/22 season, the first-ever Old Boys team took the field in a fixture with the school first XV. Such was the success of the match that it was decided to form an official Old Boys club, which then played a full programme of fixtures for two seasons. However, the loss of its playing fields led to this first club folding.

The switch to rugby at Cardiff High proved to be very fortuitous for the game in Wales as, very quickly, the school began to produce a crop of outstanding players. Three Old Boys - John Roberts (1927-29), Bill Roberts (1929) and Harry Bowcott (1929-33) went on to play for Wales whilst the school developed into a highly productive nursery for the famous Cardiff Club. With the school playing with such distinction during the 1920's, fresh attempts were regularly made in this period to revive the Old Boys club. A new ground was eventually found in 1928, and so in April of that year, the club was officially reformed. It is unlikely that any rugby club has had such a prestigious start to life, so the club's first ever fixture was played on the Cardiff Arms Park against Cardiff RFC. The present Cardiff High School Old Boys RFC traces its origins and since then - with the exception of the war years - the club can proudly boast of a continuous 75 year record of rugby football.

For many years, membership was restricted to old boys of the school and despite this, the club was always able to compete well with teams throughout Wales. However, it was decided to open membership to all-comers in 1966, since when Cardiff High School Old Boys have been a completely open club

Many former players have gone on to play for senior clubs such as Cardiff, Newport, Oxford and Cambridge Universities. Several have played for Wales, including Cecil Davies (1931), W E N Davies (1939), Sid Judd (1953-1955) and Merion Roberts (1960-1963). The current First XV player/coach, John Wakeford was capped in 1988, and outside-half Crispin Cormack was a member of the Welsh touring party to Australia. A player and coach of distinction of the club was the late Vernon Pugh, QC, who went on to become the first independent chairman of the International Rugby Board.

In 1962, a long-standing ambition was achieved when the Old Boys became one of the few clubs in Wales to own its own ground outright. Situated in a delightful environment on the edge of Cardiff, the Diamond ground (named after a former headmaster of Cardiff High) has hosted many rugby events over the years, including matches in the Women's World Cup. It is frequently used for training purposes by visiting national teams and in 1993, the Canadians played a practice match here against the club, prior to their historic 26-23 victory over Wales at the Arms Park.

With the advent of the first official leagues in Wales in the early 1990's, the club enjoyed a period of outstanding success, finishing third in National Division 4 and reaching the last 8 of the Welsh Cup in two successive seasons. Afterwards, the club entered into a period of decline, the lowest point being a two and a half year stretch without a league victory. However, the win came in the 2000-2001 season and the following year brought promotion. There is now a new and buoyant mood of confidence about the future. Such optimism is justified as for the first time, the club has now put in place a sound structure for the development of younger players, which should guarantee the future of the club for another 75 years.

 

 
This website written, designed and maintained by Rob Blunt. Last updated 16/03/2007 10:41
Rob Blunt 2006. The opinions expressed on the website are that of the author only and do not reflect those of Cardiff HSOB RFC.