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Llanelli RFC
UnionWelsh Rugby Union
Nickname(s)Bois Sospan, Turks
Founded1872 (1872)
LocationLlanelli, Wales
Ground(s)Parc y Scarlets (Capacity: 14,870)
Coach(es)Paul Fisher
League(s)Welsh Premier Division
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

Llanelli Rugby Football Club (Welsh: Clwb Rygbi Llanelli) is a Welsh rugby union club founded on 30 March 1872.

The club's historic home ground was Stradey Park in Llanelli, but they moved in 2008 to the new Parc y Scarlets in adjacent Pemberton. The club song is "Sosban Fach", a Welsh song meaning "Little Saucepan", which is sometimes sung by the club's fans during matches as the club anthem. The team colours are scarlet and white.

Following the 2003 regionalisation of Welsh rugby, Llanelli is now a feeder club to the Scarlets regional team.

Club history

In the beginning

After attending a Good Friday service in chapel, a group of young athletes from Llanelli met to discuss the formation of a new rugby club in the area. One of those men was John D. Rogers, a young industrialist who had learned to play rugby union football at Rugby School, the game's birthplace. He was assisted by C. Hilton, who became the club's inaugural honorary secretary. On Easter Saturday, 30 March 1872, the group reconvened to confirm the formation of Llanelli RFC. However, due to a lack of opposition and the limitations of transport at that time, no other town club was within a suitable travelling distance until 1875–76.

The club used People's Park in Llanelli for practice. The playing kit was dark blue, with high-collared jerseys and tight trousers that reached well below the knee, and blue caps.

Up until then Llanelli and Neath were the only first-class clubs in Wales (Neath being one year older).

The early years

Llanelli's first recorded match was against Carmarthen Quins, on 21 December 1875 at People's Park. Unfortunately, the match had to be abandoned due to bad weather and the result is recorded as a 0–0 draw. The club's second fixture, at the same venue on 1 January 1876, was against Cambrian Club, a team based in Swansea. Two days later they played their first away fixture, against Carmarthen Quins at Picton Court, Carmarthen. This was followed by a match at Felinfoel against Swansea RFC on 5 February 1876.

Arthur Buchanan had the honour of being the first captain of Llanelli RFC. He died prematurely after accidentally shooting himself.

In September 1879, it was announced that the club were to move from People's Park, having acquired the Stradey cricket ground for their practices and matches. The first official match played at the new home was against Neath in the Challenge Cup on 29 November 1879.

A further kit change saw Llanelli RFC play in black before the team colours changed to rose and primrose stripes for the 1882/1883 season. In 1883/84, they changed again to red and chocolate quarters. However, on Easter Monday, 14 April 1884, the Llanelli team took the field in scarlet jerseys, complete with scarlet gold-braided caps. The occasion was the visit of the full Irish team, which had played Wales on the previous Saturday and stopped off on their way home. From that date, the scarlet jersey became permanent and Llanelli RFC became known throughout the rugby world as The Scarlets. Nearly 120 years later, the club's nickname also became the name of the regional team, Scarlets.

The Scarlets

Llanelli's first major trophies came in 1884 and 1886 with the South Wales Challenge Cup, the forerunner of the modern Welsh Cup. December 1888 saw the team beat a touring New Zealand Natives team by 3–0, with a dropped goal from Harry Bowen. The team claimed their first full international scalp in 1908 when they beat Australia 8–3. This would be the first of many famous victories over touring international sides. Players who wore the Scarlet jersey in this pre-war era included Albert Jenkins, who scored over 121 tries for the club as a centre.

After the war Lewis Jones was one of the stars of the game. He was capped by Wales aged just 18 in 1950, and was instrumental in their Grand Slam win that year. However just two years later, he switched codes from the then amateur rugby union to the professional rugby league and signed for Leeds for a then record amount of £6,000.

Success was, however, not away from Stradey for long. A victory over Australia came in 1967 and the club was about to enter what many would argue was its strongest era. Players at Llanelli during the 1970s included Ray Gravell, Gareth Jenkins, Delme Thomas, Phil Bennett, and Derek Quinnell; and the team was coached by Carwyn James and assisted by former captain and Wales international hooker Norman Gale.

The day the pubs ran dry

Main article: Llanelli RFC 9–3 New Zealand

"9–3" is a poem by Welsh comedian and singer Max Boyce and refers to the match between Llanelli and the New Zealand All Blacks at Stradey Park in front of 26,000 supporters on 31 October 1972. Llanelli took a 6–0 lead through a converted try but New Zealand struck back to make it 6–3. A long distance Andy Hill penalty ensured Llanelli emerged victors by 9–3 and the crowd famously ran onto the pitch at the end and carried off players such as Delme Thomas.[1] The poem is best known for the line "The day the pubs ran dry", as huge celebrations followed and many pubs in the town sold out of all alcoholic drinks.[2]

Cup success

The next notable period for Llanelli RFC was during the late 1980s and early 1990s. With players such as Ieuan Evans amongst the squad, Llanelli won the Welsh Cup five times in eight years between 1985 and 1993 including in consecutive seasons in 1991,1992 and 1993. They achieved their most recent success against international opponents when they beat Australia, the world champions at the time, in 1992. Rupert Moon was captain when they won the cup and league which earned Llanelli the title of Best Team in Britain for the 1992–1993 season as well as the nickname "Cup Kings of Wales" due to their success in the Welsh Cup. The late 1990s and early years of the 21st century also produced many Welsh internationals including Rupert Moon, Ricky Evans, Wayne Proctor, Scott Quinnell and Stephen Jones.

The side reached the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup three times: in 2000 against Northampton Saints who went on to win the trophy, in 2002 against Leicester Tigers and in 2007 against Leicester Tigers again. In the first match against Leicester, Llanelli appeared to be going to their first final as they led 12–10 in injury time. But Leicester were awarded a penalty 8 metres inside their own half; Tim Stimpson's kick for goal bounced off both the post and crossbar before just falling over the post to deny Llanelli.

Prior to the regional era, Llanelli RFC were considered the third most successful team in European club rugby, having played the third largest number of games (behind Toulouse and Munster) in the Heineken Cup due to the club's consistency in qualifying for the knockout stages of the tournament. However, they have never won the competition.

The regional era

Top-level professional rugby changed at Llanelli RFC in 2003 when Llanelli's first team was rebranded, as part of the WRU's move to five professional teams, as Llanelli Scarlets and Llanelli RFC became the club's premiership brand. The Llanelli RFC team now plays in the Welsh Premier Division and Welsh Cup. Under coach Scott Quinnell they won the cup in 2005, their first silverware in their new format.

On 28 March 2023, Llanelli RFC announced their withdrawal from the Premier Division for the 2023–24 season, as they would be unable to field a team in the expanded league.[3] Llanelli RFC would instead seek to arrange friendlies as a development side for the Scarlets, and look to join a proposed eight–team league above the Premier Division.[4]

Match traditions

As a link to the club's team anthem Sosban Fach, there were sosbenni on top of the uprights of both sets of posts at Stradey Park. The saucepans were installed at Parc y Scarlets.

When Llanelli RFC play Bath, it was tradition that a rag doll was hung from the crossbar, which the winning team then kept until their next encounter. Llanelli RFC last won the doll in 2002. Since 2003 this tradition was continued by the Regional side who successfully 'defended' it when they played Bath in the Powergen Cup semi-final in 2006.


The Scarlets play at Parc y Scarlets in Pemberton. From 1879 to 2008 they played at Stradey Park in Llanelli. Planning for the new stadium began in 2004.[5]

Club honours

British and Irish Lions

The following former players were selected for the British and Irish Lions touring squads while playing for Llanelli RFC.


Wales International Captains

The following former players captained the Wales national rugby union team while playing for Llanelli RFC.

See also Wales rugby union captains


Other notable former Llanelli players

Former Llanelli RFC players who have at some time represented Wales or toured with the British Lions.

See also Category:Llanelli RFC players

Games played against international opposition

Year Date Opponent Result Score Tour
1888 19 December  Māori Win 3–0 1888 New Zealand Native tour
1903 15 January  Canada Won 11–9 1903 Canada rugby tour of the British Isles
1906 29 December  South Africa Loss 3–16 1906 South Africa rugby union tour
1908 17 October  Australia Won 8–3 1908 Australia tour of British Isles and France
1912 19 October  South Africa Loss 7–8 1912–13 South Africa rugby union tour
1924 2 December  New Zealand Lost 3–8 1924–25 New Zealand tour
1926 13 November  Māori Win 3–0 1926–27 New Zealand Māori rugby union tour
1931 24 November  South Africa Loss 0–9 1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour
1935 22 October  New Zealand Loss 8–16 1935–36 New Zealand rugby union tour
1947 17 January  Australia Lost 4-6 1947–48 Australia rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland, France and North America
1951 23 October  South Africa Loss 11–20 1951–52 South Africa rugby union tour
1953 17 November  New Zealand Loss 3–17 1953/54 All Blacks tour of the British Isles, France and North America
1957 August Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia Win 35–9 Llanelli tour of Russia
1957 August Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia Win 35–9 Llanelli tour of Russia
1957 10 December  Australia Loss 5-9 1957–58 Australia rugby union tour
1963 31 December  New Zealand Loss 8–22 1963/64 All Blacks tour of the British Isles, France and Canada
1967 17 January  Australia Won 11–0 1966–67 Australia rugby union tour
1970 20 January  South Africa Loss 9–10 1969–70 South Africa rugby union tour
1972 31 October  New Zealand Win 9–3 1972–73 New Zealand rugby union tour of the British Isles, France and North America
1974 17 September  Tonga Win 24–15 1974 Tonga Tour to the British Isles
1975 4 November  Australia Draw 28–28 1975–76 Australia rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland
1980 21 October  New Zealand Loss 10–16 1980 All Blacks tour
1982 6 November New ZealandNew Zealand Māori Win 16–9 1982 New Zealand Māori rugby union tour of Wales
1984 20 November  Australia Win 19–16 1984 Australia tour of Britain and Ireland
1985 5 November  Fiji Win 31–28 1985 Fiji rugby union tour of British Isles[6]
1986 16 August  Fiji Loss 12–16 Llanelli at the National Stadium, Suva, Fiji[7]
1989 28 October  New Zealand Loss 0–11 1989 New Zealand rugby union tour
1992 14 November  Australia Win 13–9 1992 Australia rugby union tour of Europe
1995 7 November  Fiji Loss 12–38 1995 Fiji rugby union tour of Wales and Ireland[8]
1997 8 November  New Zealand Loss 3–81 1997 New Zealand rugby union tour of Britain and Ireland



  1. ^ The Rugby Clubs of Wales pp76-77, David Parry-Jones (1989) ISBN 0-09-173850-4
  2. ^ "Day the pubs ran dry". BBC News. 31 October 2002. Retrieved 11 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Llanelli pull out of Welsh Premiership". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  4. ^ James, Ben (28 March 2023). "Famous Llanelli RFC club announces it will withdraw from Welsh Premiership". WalesOnline. Retrieved 2 April 2023.
  5. ^ "Scarlets home in on stadium site". BBC. 1 July 2004. Retrieved 23 March 2015.
  6. ^ Fiji Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Fiji Archived 11 July 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ Robert Cole (10 October 1995). "Wales brace themselves for the giants of Fiji". The Independent. Retrieved 20 June 2008. [dead link]