Our History


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It was 1979. The new clubhouse had been completed. All of those involved, were mightily proud of themselves, and looking forward to an exciting future. One piece of the jigsaw was missing!

The interview took place at the new bar. Ollwyn had pulled the pints, and after taking a good swig he asked, wWhat are your ambitions? Where do you want to go?
"I think it was Davies who was first in. "Win the Brewers cup". Another. "Get W.R.U. status". A new ambition was born. And, Billy Pole, the recently retired ex Maesteg wing forward, became the new coach of Tondu R.F.C

What came to follow was the most exciting, momentous, roller coaster ride, in the long history of the club.

Who amongst us will ever forget the excitement, the thrill, and the feeling of such great pride that accompanied the matches against the likes of I.C.I. Fibre's, ( famous for the Greg Tucker after match performance at their piano). He, Greg, caused mayhem, when, in our hosts Club, and sitting at their piano, stripped down to the altogether, stuck matchsticks in his eyelids to keep them open, and began to play the key board.

The committee of the social club, fearful of the reaction of the bride, the groom, and their guests in the wedding reception taking place in the concert hall next door did not appreciate such a display. Believe me the word riot comes to mind.

Then there was the surreal semi final against Butetown at the Brewery field.
A certain Danny Wilson, father of Ryan Giggs, was the man most likely to spoil the party and block our path to the final. We prevailed, and entertained a disappointed Butetown back at our clubhouse. What a night. Amidst the euphoria of the celebration, the late Gordon Davies, when asked if he'd like a joint, was heard to reply, "No thanks Butt, I get mine from the top butchers" O,H for a return to the innocence of days 30 years past.

On Saturday, The 12th of April 1980 the village emptied. It was off to the big city, and the then, national stadium. We had made it to the final, could we, would we, make it all the way to the winning post.

Dear reader. WE DID !!!!


After a year of research carried out mainly by Garry Watkins, and Viv Jones, we had established, without doubt that the club had been in existence, at least a hundred years. It is highly likely that the club is older, and therefore pre dates the governing body of the game in Wales, who also celebrated their centenary in 1880/81.

How can we make this assumption.
Well, it seems slightly ridiculous that the following reports are of a club that has just been established. The first is of a trial game. And reported in an edition of the Bridgend Chronicle 1880.

The opening match of the season will be played on Ynysawdre field on Sat next the 8th inst. Between the first fifteen, and the next twenty-five, kick off at 3.00 pm sharp. It is hoped that all members interested will turn up. Intended members and those interested are cordially invited! The uniform this season will be magenta coloured jerseys, stockings and caps, and white knickers. They have secured the cricket club field and anticipate some good play.

That seems to me to read like an established side being run by men who knew what they were about.

The first editions that are available of the Bridgend Chronicle start at January 1880 and on Friday12th March 1880 the Chronicle carried a report of a match played the previous Wednesday between Tondu R.F.C. and a Bridgend R.F.C. 2nd fifteen, Bridgend on this occasion being the victors by one goal, one "DISPUTED" goal, two touchdowns, to one touchdown by Tondu. With this in mind it can be definitely said that Tondu werein existence in 1879/80.

A team of players appeared in the November 5th edition in the same year, and was as follows; R. Morley and E. Williams backs, Davies (Captain) three quarter back, J. Powell and T. Davies half backs, J. D. Lewis and K. D. Watkins quarter backs, L. Powel, Butler, Dodd, Pritchard, S Pritchard, W Powell, Lambert and E Hopkins forwards. This was the firstto appear in print and was the side that played Cwmamman the previous Wednesday. On this occasion Tondu were victors by one goal, one touchdown to one touchdown.

Could this have been an afternoon game? Can't imagine all those guys finishing up from their shifts or whatever, and travelling to Cwmavon on a November evening.


The first captain of Tondu R.F.C. was T.J.Butler, a man educated at Breckon, who also acted as club secretary. He is known as the man who introduced rugby to Tondu.
Butler was a school teacher by profession and it was his teaching career which brought him to Tondu and he later went on to become headmaster of Garth school.

Little else is known of him and his name is not mentioned in a report dating back to august 1881 which describes a meeting held at the Tondu and Aberkenfig reading room. At this meeting D.O.Davies was appointed captain with W.H.Pritchard as vice captain and D.Watkins as secretary.

In November of the same year, a match between Tondu A team and Bridgend 2nd xv was reported to have been "marred by a disgraceful incident". "There must have been plenty of Tondu red faces among Tondu supporters as somebody ran on the field and hit J.Richards of Bridgend. The referee stopped the game".

After this, Bridgend refused to play Tondu for a number of years. It is not known how long the ban lasted, but in 1897 there was reference to a to a crowd of some two and half thousand people attending a match between the two clubs.
In the early 19 hundreds, Tondu were known as Tondu Rangers and for some strange reason took a nickname from a local correspondent who was called "MEATHOOK"!

In the 1909-10 season, reference is made to a game between the Meathooks and Pontycymmer. Tondu were said to be under strength without the services of inside half George Dunster, and forwards Dick Burt and Mike Kinsella,
Some familiar names known to the Club there!
Kinsella was mentioned for his fine play in many of the early reports on Tondu rugby, and was obviously one of the first Tondu 'great'

Meathook, What a fantastic nick name. Although the Waterwheelers has been almost universally accepted as the clubs nickname, was not Crocodile Tondu, as coined by the late great Ray Gravell more suitable I'd say so. But, the 'Meathooks' isn't that something else. Lets have a campaign to get back to it.


This is a report of a game between the above, and again was published in the Glamorgan Chronicle of that year.

On Saturday last the above match was played at Porthcawl in the presence of a large number of people. The visitors won the toss and elected to play with the wind.

The home team kicked off at 3.30 and following the ball well up compelled the visitors to touch down in self defence.
The ball again being started from the 25 some scrummaging took place and the home forwards by some very good dribbling, took the ball over the goal line and Roderick secured the try which was disputed and kicked under protest.

The leather again being started, it was soon taken back to the Tondu 25 by Woolacott who made a good run. A scrummage was formed and W.D.Pritchard by a capital rush carried the ball over the line a second time and secured the try, the kick for goal being a failure.

Nothing more was scored before the half time. On the ball being started again, some very fast and loose play ensued. The visitors playing well together soon secured a try but the kick for goal was a failure.

Soon afterwards Woolacott, by some good play, compelled Tondu to touch down twice in succession, but now the want of practice began to show on the home team, the visitors placing their goal in danger three or four times.

Woolacott however got possession of the ball and made a clean run through his opponents, thus securing a third try. The visitors failing to add to their score, the game ended in favour of the home team by 2 tries, 1 disputed try and 3 touches down to 1 and 4 touches down.

Mr Wolcott seems to have been a pretty useful player me thinks.


The hard fought win over win over Pembroke Dock Quins provides Tondu and their supporters with a dream come true; a Schweppes cup tie with the Western Mail top 18 side Pontypridd, to be played at the Sardis road ground on December the 20th 1980. The captain for Ponty that day! Tommy David.

Note the programme cost, 15p.

Although soundly beaten on this occasion, this match was the precursor to a period in which Tondu were to gain the much deserved, and genuine description of being cup GIANT killers.


The winning of the Brewers cup final brought with it another great advantage. That win, and the prestige that went with it, would give great credence to the validity of our claim to be promoted into the ranks of the W.R.U. elite.

In 1982/3 the chairmanship of the club had passed onto Gary Watkins, and it was he, assisted by the redoubtable secretary of the day John Perris, who were to lead the assault on achieving that goal.

That year was to be our last in the ranks of Bridgend and district junior union, and from here on in it was to be all upwards and onwards.

Our first taste of the big time took the form of a years probationary W.R.U. membership, and there followed a relevantly quiet period spent on the improvement of the first teams fixture list, team building, and taking scalps. Suddenly fixtures against Pyle, Nanty, Bridgend Sports and the likes were becoming the norm, boy, were we improving. And then, out of the blue, and in many, many, ways, totally unprepared for such an event, we were into another good Welsh cup run and at the stage where the real "BIG" boys entered the fray. We were drawn at "HOME" to play "LLANELLII. It couldn't get bigger or better!

What an experience that turned out to be.

Remembering the preparation for the game. I wonder what the health and safety executive of today, would have made of us borrowing a temporary seated contraption for a couple of hundred people off the council; a few of us plumbers, and builders knocking it up on the Friday afternoon for the use of "STAND TICKET HOLDERS" at Pandy Park.

A certain Ieuan Evans proved to be our Nemesis on the day scoring two second half try's in the space of a couple of minutes.

Marvelously the score at half time had been just 06-12 to the visitors, and we all lived in hope. But it was not to be, and the Scarlets ran out eventual 12-36 winners, but as one of the match reports of the day recoded "Beaten they may have been, but Tondu were never disgraced.

One thing about that game stays with me always. One of the stand ticket holders, the inimitable Peter Bunston, with the game barely kicked off, and Llanelli conceding the first

penalty of the game, shouting in that Angel voice; "Their doing it all the bloody time Ref
Needless to say, it was a fantastic day for the whole of the village, and the surrounding communities.

O'h, there were no recorded fatalities in the stand that day!


During the 1909 season meathook made the following observations.

Tondu's second fifteen played away to Porthcawls seconds, and that Porthcawl seconds "played the game as it ought to be played"

Tondu held the Porthcawl side to an honourable draw with forward Mock Davies playing well and "Tondu were inspired by the return of old warhorse, Tom Williams."
Against Bryncethin Meathook observed that "the forwards were out-played" but nevertheless "Tondu ran out easy winners". Nothing altered there then!

On November 13 that year Tondu travelled to the "city" of Bettws. "Bettws were strong but were lucky to escape defeat because Tondu were very strong. Jim Duggan was one of the best forwards with Kinsella and Dai Davies."
After the "Meathook" era and on into the intervening war years there are few records of Tondu's existence or achievements.

We do know that just prior to the start of world war 2 the club must have been in good health, as we have on record a photograph of the 1937/8 T. D. Schofield cup winning side.
After the war the club was reformed, and like many other clubs struggled to regain it's standing in the rugby world, going through some very hard times in the late 40s and early 50s.

It was at that time, that one of the best known men in the clubs history came on the scene, one Edwin Dingle.