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New version of Rhiwbina author's acclaimed rugby book

The early years of rugby football in Cardiff, its suburbs, and across Wales more widely, are told in a highly acclaimed book by Rhiwbina author, Gwyn Prescott.

And now, This Rugby Spellbound People has been updated in a third edition.

The book is a social history of early rugby, focusing on the origins of the game in Wales and its growth in 19th century Cardiff.

Gwyn, whose latest book Arthur Gould - Rugby's First Superstar we featured earlier this year, told us that rugby arrived in Wales in the late 1860s, and by the 1890s, crowds of many thousands regularly attended club and international matches at the Arms Park.

There were well over 200 rugby teams in the Cardiff area, although Rhiwbina was too small a settlement then to sustain a rugby team – it wasn’t until the early 1920s that the first, and short-lived, club appeared in the village.

But, in the late 19th century, many neighbouring places, including Whitchurch, Llandaff North, Gabalfa, Heath, Birchgrove, Llanishen, Lisvane and Tongwynlais had teams.

And most teams were organised by players and officials from within the local community, rather than by middle-class reformers.

This Rugby Spellbound People identifies many of the places where clubs played and the pubs they used for changing and socialising. One local example was the Fox and Hounds in Old Church Road, which was the headquarters of Whitchurch RFC at this time. 

Gwyn, who has lived in Rhiwbina for 47 years, comes from a rugby family - his granddaughter is the sixth generation to watch the game at the Arms Park.  And Gwyn captained the Welsh Secondary Schools XV and played for Cambridge University 1st XV.

In retirement, he studied for a research degree at the University of South Wales, and his thesis was later adapted for publication as This Rugby Spellbound People in 2011.

You can find out more and order the new edition of the book directly from the publisher here. It's also available from Amazon as a Kindle edition.

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