Fleur de Lys Rugby Football Club
The records show that the first rugby team to originate in the village was way back in 1892. A time when each individual was expected to purchase their own kit, and transport to away games was normally a long walk to and from the opposition. Being a small village, very often in those days the rugby team competed with the soccer team for numbers. The early years of the last century on many occasions saw the village having either a rugby team or a football team, because of the lack of men to satisfy both sports.
The start of the Second World War in 1939 and its repercussions, suspended the playing of rugby football in Fleur de Lys. Following the war soccer became the main sport in the village; again a lack of numbers was the reason the rugby team lay dormant. This remained the case until 1966, when a discussion at The Castle Pub between a group of enthusiastic gentlemen led by Ken Jones, arranged a meeting to discuss reforming Fleur de Lys RFC.
The meeting took place at The James Club, which resulted in the election of Tal Edwards as Chairman, and Leonard Sainsbury, Ivor Dunbar, Ken Jones and Glyn Hardwick as officers. Dilwyn Roberts was elected Club Captain, an honour that he was to hold until 1973. With a full fixture list arranged, and the first game being at home everything was organised the field, the referee, the after match meal, one small thing that bypassed everyone was “The Kit”. Emergency action then kicked in, the officers went over to Hunts Sports Shop in Blackwood and purchased a kit on the “never, never”. Prior to this club colours had never been discussed, the only full set of jerseys the shop had were “Black & Amber “ which still remain the clubs primary colours today!
For that first season the headquarters of the rugby club was in The James Club. The following two years saw the team use a different headquarters when the landlord of The Castle Pub a gentleman by the name of John English offered one of his rooms to host the rugby team, which they gratefully accepted. Following the success in those early years, the committee felt it necessary to find larger premises to accommodate the growing number of players and supporters. This materialised in 1970 when John English became Steward of the local Miners Institute. John and the committee welcomed the rugby club to use their premises. The “Stute” as it was known provided the team with their own room on match days along with the benefit of hot meals for the players. The large concert hall was the regular venue for the annual end of season awards; in addition many of the fund raising activities took place here.
Towards the end of the seventies, the club were running two sides and the possibility of our own clubhouse was coming up in regular conversations. Regular success on the field and a Youth Team being established in 1982 brought the topic to a head. There was land in the village available, which the committee decided was in the right place, the wheel was now in motion!
The dream materialised in February 1985 nineteen years after reforming, Fleur de Lys Clubhouse was opened in the High Street. Much of the work carried out was by the committee and players themselves. To celebrate the occasion and officially open the new clubhouse, Welsh International Paul Turner brought a host of present day rugby stars to feature in a Fleur de Lys XV v Wales XV rugby match on Trelyn Park.
Once the euphoria of the new clubhouse had settled down, the committee’s aspirations were again tested. The possibility of Fleur de Lys RFC being full members of the Welsh Rugby Union was proposed. Through pure hard work, canvassing of WRU clubs by the committee, achievements gained on the field by the players and coaches, the support for our request came in. The club was accepted as Probationary Members of the Welsh Rugby Union in 1985 with Full membership being granted in 1989.
The centenary of the club was achieved during the 1991-92 season, many select teams visiting the park to play both our senior and Youth teams. It was also our centenary season that brought about our first floodlit game. The floodlights were purchased from British Coal with the help of some shrewd bargaining power of the secretary Robert Llewellyn.
With the clubhouse and WRU membership all safely on board, the introduction of the Welsh National leagues for the 1994-95 season now took preference. Fleur de Lys started life in Division 7 East and the following season 1995-96 promotion was gained to Division 6 East by winning the league. During the years that followed many promotions and cup runs were achieved, notable cup opponents played to date are Premiership teams Aberavon RFC, Bridgend RFC and Neath RFC.
At present the First XV competes in The Swalec National League Division Two East. In more recent years the First XV played at an even higher level in the National League Division One, a status they held for 4 years. This was a very high standard of rugby played by the club, and is quite an achievement considering back in 1985 the club were playing their rugby in the Gwent Districts Junior Union. The club presently has one other team, the Youth XV play in the Caerphilly District Youth league.
In 2007 Fleur de lys RFC decided to award players a Club Cap for playing 250 games of more for the club. The President of the WRU Mr Glanmor Griffiths attended the club at a special presentation evening to present the following players with their caps:
Dilwyn Roberts, Jeff Shide, Gerald Smith, Barry Brooks, Mike Thomas, Keith Thomas, Gary Richards, Tyrone Davies, Billy Holton, Stan Bruford, David Williams, Keith Smith, Allan Evans, Dewi Jones, Nigel Palmer, Noel Davies, Jim Egan, John Davies, Robert Cuddihy, Paul Morris, Carl Philips, Gareth Shide, Julian Vokes, Craig Marshall, Paul Muller & Mark Davies.
Without doubt Fleur de lys RFC would not have achieved the success over the years without the dedication and support of so many individuals. Most of these people have already been mentioned. In addition I would like to give a special mention to another two individuals who have supported and volunteered their services to the club for 40+ years, Alf Catchpole former Treasurer and Trustee and Elwyn Harrhy former Chairman, Fixture Secretary and Trustee who sadly passed away in 2013.
Most of the information above have been provided by people associated with the village and club of Fleur de lys. If anyone has any further information they feel would be of interest please contact me so I can update the website.
Allan Evans .
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