By Colin Ham

IN the late 1800s, the game of rugby was a rapidly growing sport in many communities across South Wales, but the first record of the game being played formally in Barry was in 1887 when a team called Cadoxton Football Club played in the Cardiff League.

Within a couple of years this team was renamed Cadoxton and Barry Football Club and in 1889 a second team named Barry Harlequins was formed in the West End of Barry.

During the next 30 or so years, many changes took place with teams being formed, disbanded and re-formed under different names such as Barry, Barry Rovers, Barry Stars, Cadoxton United, Barry Barbarians and Barry Town RFC to name but a few.

Understandably there was not much activity on rugby fields during 1914-18 but after the Great War the club started playing again under the name of Barry Parade RFC.

They continued to play under this name until 1923 when the club was disbanded and replaced by a new club, Barry Romilly RFC, which continued right up to the commencement of the Second World War.

Barry RFC as we now know it was formed after WWII under the chairmanship of Major Edgar Jones, the headmaster of the local Barry County School. In its first full season, 1946-47, all the home games were played at Romilly Park and the club headquarters was based at the Ship Hotel Barry.

In the 1949-50 season Barry RFC was admitted to the WRU and efforts were stepped up to find a permanent home and playing field for it.

In April 1951 this was realised when the now famous Nissen hut was formally opened at the Reservoir Field and christened with a game against the Metropolitan Police. This became the home of the club for the next 13 years and many a hard battle was fought and won on the hut’s adjacent pitch.

The current clubhouse was opened in 1964 with a match against an International XV. With four pitches in front of the new clubhouse all three senior sides were now able to play home matches at the same time rather than having to 'borrow' pitches elsewhere from the council.

Throughout the 1960s the fortunes of Barry RFC ebbed and flowed due to players retiring, emigrating, moving onto other clubs or returning from training college and university. However, by the 1970s things started to stabilise and Barry began to become a force in local rugby.

The 1980-81 season saw the 1st XV finally record more wins than losses for the first time since the new clubhouse was built. During the 1980s the club had some of its finest moments including a successful cup run which culminated in a tie against the mighty Cardiff RFC where Barry even led twice during the game.

In the following two decades the club continued to grow as rugby turned professional and local derbies made way for league fixtures.

Throughout this period the club continued to thrive due to the determination and dedication of its players, volunteers and committee as the face of rugby union changed immeasurably.

However, despite these unprecedented changes to the game, the club continued to be a steadfast pillar in the local community. During this period Barry’s fortunes in the leagues were mixed with a combination of promotion and relegation, not unlike a lot of other community clubs of the same ilk.

Things finally began to stabilise in the last 15 years or so as the club’s faith in its mini, junior and youth rugby paid off with the 1st XV moving up the divisions ably supported by the 2nd XV and 3rd XV which were successful in their own right. This period also saw significant investment in the clubhouse and facilities, with much support coming from the WRU.

Today the club has a very active Mini and Junior section, with over 200 young people from ages three to 16, regularly playing on a Sunday morning.

The Youth team is going from strength to strength and the club also hosts ladies’ and veterans’ rugby alongside its two senior men’s sides. In 2019, the 1st XV was promoted to Division 1 East Central, the highest level the club has attained in its 130-year history.

Today, Barry RFC very much remains a community club and the clubhouse is widely used by local residents for family gatherings and parties. It is also home to a number of skittles and pool teams.

Sadly, because of the unprecedented situation which exists due to Covid-19, the club is currently closed and no official rugby games or any other activities are taking place in Wales.

However, in true rugby and community spirit, the senior side have challenged the youth, minis and juniors to a three-way virtual race along the length of Route 66. Participants can walk, run or cycle and all proceeds will go the NHS and Velindre Hospital in Cardiff.

This sort of challenge engages the whole club, even though everyone is social distancing and as well as raising money for a well-deserved charity, it helps the players of all sections to stay fit.

In addition, players in all the club’s sections have continued training individually with each player being sent a home exercise plan or having virtual fitness sessions run via Zoom with respective coaches.

Younger groups such as the Under 9s for example have run quizzes with a variety of subjects for all the family to enjoy and senior players have been taking a series of player-led fitness challenges for fun.

As throughout its history, the club’s continuing success is due to the contributions and dedication of all the players, parents, members, committee, staff and innumerable volunteers who willingly give of their time to support the club on and off the field of play. New members to the club are always welcome whether they want to play rugby, spectate or just enjoy the ambience the club has to offer.

In 2016 the club launched its own lottery and this, along with further support from the WRU, has helped fund the recent refurbishment of the clubhouse.

The club is also very grateful for the support it receives from its sponsors, whose contributions are invaluable.

The club’s sponsorship coordinator, Jon Venners, is always available to discuss opportunities with potential new sponsors and can be contacted at

With the foregoing in mind and if we and those who follow us, maintain the same determination and zest for the game that our rugby forefathers had, then who is to say that the club will not be around for the next 130 years. We hope so.