Cardiff Rugby Football Club was founded in 1876 and played its first game against Newport at Wentloog Marshes on 2 December of that year. The first home fixtures were played at Sophia Gardens. However, the club soon relocated to its famous ground at Cardiff Arms Park, named after the local Cardiff Arms public house. The Arms Park has seen many developments; originally home to both Cardiff cricket and rugby matches, the venue is among the most famous in the world.
Until 1969 Cardiff and Wales played their home matches on the same pitch but a sea-change came in the 1969-70 season. As a result of an agreement between Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union, the National Ground project established a new stadium for international matches with club rugby fixtures switched to the original cricket ground on the Arms Park site. In 1999 the National Stadium, Cardiff Arms Park, as it was officially known, was replaced by the Millennium Stadium. Cardiff Rugby Football Club, however, continues to play at Cardiff Arms Park.
Cardiff won the South Wales Challenge Cup on 12th March 1881 against Llanelly (as then spelt). The competition was disbanded shortly afterwards due to persistent problems with the crowd. However, in more recent times, Cardiff were Heineken Cup finalists in 1996, domestic Cup champions on seven occasions, in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1994 and 1997, Welsh League champions in 1995 and won the Welsh/Scottish league title in 2000.
With immortals such as Gwyn Nicholls, Rhys Gabe, Percy Bush, Wilfred Wooller, Dr Jack Matthews, Bleddyn Williams, Cliff Morgan, Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards, John Scott, Rob Howley and present coach David Young all playing in Blue and Black through the ages, it is no surprise that Cardiff has provided more players to the Welsh national team and British Isles than any other club in Wales.
In 2003 the club celebrates the 50th anniversary of the legendary 8-3 victory over the All Blacks. Captain Bleddyn Williams and the six other survivors of the 1953 team will meet again to toast their historic result. They will also salute the 1907 team that beat the Springboks 17-nil and the six sides between 1908 and 1984 that established an unprecedented invincible record against the Wallabies.
The club’s highest win was 116-0 against Dunvant on 25th March 2000, beating the previous high of 107-3 against Plymouth in 1993. The club’s top try scorer was Steve Ford with 187 tries.
Two classic texts should be referred to for detailed research:
C S Arthur, The Cardiff Rugby Football Club – History and Statistics 1876-1906
D E Davies, Cardiff Rugby Club – History and Statistics 1876-1975
Both Arthur and Davies were distinguished players who in later years served the club as Secretary and Chairman respectively.
More recent additions to the club’s history are The Statistical History of Cardiff RFC 1876-1984 by CRG Harris and the companion illustrated histories, Cardiff Rugby Football Club 1876-1939 and Cardiff Rugby Football Club 1940-2000, by Duncan Gardiner and Alan Evans.