Our Club Headquarters is in Station Road, Kidwelly and has been since April 1968. Prior to that the Club used the renown establishment of ‘The Castle Hotel,’ which was managed by Capt. Harry Manners. Kidwelly Castle is a dominating feature within the local landscape, and figures prominently as a proud emblem adopted by the club.
As with many other clubs, no written documents exist which could reveal the exact date of origin of the club. The beginning of the club in many ways was obscure; it’s birth difficult and it’s infancy uncertain, but it can be claimed that by the 1880’s rugby football was being played in the town.
Even in the late 19th Century, as indeed in latter years the club served as a spawning ground for International honours. A Stephen Thomas who represented Wales against England and Scotland in 1890, and yet again represented Wales against against Ireland in 1891 was born in Kidwelly and played for the local team before joining Llanelli. The club also boasts a relationship with two further Welsh International players, who also progressed to becoming British Lions. Ray Gravelle who did not play for our 1st XV, but did play for Kidwelly Youth XV and went from Youth rugby on to play for Llanelli, and Gerald Davies who did play for our 1st XV before moving to Llanelli, then becoming a ‘Cambridge Blue’ (our first player to achieve such distinction was T R Barry in 1936/37/38). Having moved to Cardiff to play his rugby Gerald Davies continued his International rugby playing career and represented Wales on numerous occasions as well as becoming a British Lion.
The Club boasts two Chairpersons, Dennis Williams who has sole responsibility for Kidwelly RFC (Rugby), and Eddie Morris who is the Chairperson of Kidwelly RFC (Social), both work tirelessly for the benefit and well-being of Kidwelly RFC in it’s entirety. There are two Treasurers, one for each section who again display admirable credentials and qualities in the very important task they perform, they being Keith Davies and Rob Thomas. The Secretary, Nigel Gower covers both sections in it’s administration. Mike Cray deputises for both Chairpersons in their absence, and contributes positively and practically at all times. These Club officials are readily supported by an exciting cross section of personalities who represent the Committee.
Our President is Raymond Williams, who is a well established and respected figure within the Club. Raymond for years graced the fields of the Gwendraeth Valley and further afield in his committed and robust style of ‘hooker.’ Today he takes a great deal of pride in his position of being Club President, and displays his keen interest as being a very much hands on President-a chip off the old block, Raymond is the son of the well respected Les Williams who served the WRU with distinction for many years until ill-health became too much of a handicap for his continuation. The Club’s main sponsor is Robert Williams of WRW, the Club will be eternally grateful for Robert’s generosity and kindness, another of Les Williams’ sons.
Speaking of Les Williams, he and four others whose long term unstinting service towards Kidwelly RFc has been recognized with the award of being life members- the five being: Les Williams, Iorwerth Davies, Hywel G Rees, Mike Evans and Ken Denman.
Onto the rugby playing end – Kidwelly RFC is a Division Two West Rugby Club Affiliated to the Welsh Rugby Union. Our playing record for the last two seasons has been good in large patches, occasionally could be better, but on the whole quite good. Division Two West represents a rather ‘tough, unrelenting and uncompromising standard of rugby’ and you have to be committed and focused to survive. Last season there were games that we should not have lost, then there were one or two games we deserved to lose, because we lost our focus, yet at the end of a tough season we ended up being a credible fifth in the league. For the last two season our most prolific of points scorer has been Leighton Walters, who has been responsible in assembling points with his goal-kicking accuracy in us achieving victory. A further well-oiled try scoring cog in our machinery is our scrum-half Craig Thomas. Craig offers a 110% commitment and demonstrates all that is good in the game of rugby, as do our entire squad of players.
In recent years Kidwelly RFC have ploughed a steady furrow in terms of progress, having been Division 5 Champions of the Heineken National League during the 1995-96 Season, progressed from there and secured and maintained their current status within Division 2 West. There are no easy games within Division 2 West, formidable sides such as Mumbles, Loughor, Felinfoel, Carmarthen Athletric and the Gwendraeth Valley giants of Pontyberem and Tumble do not offer anything in the way of favours, each blade of grass, each tuft of turf, each point is hard fought for, and this is the same for each encounter. The winning of trophies, there has been an absence of, ‘peaks and troughs’ have been the name of the game, our troughs have been about not winning any trophies, our peaks have been associated with maintaining an existence in Division 2 West and taking pride in how as a small squad of players, we have sustained that existence. Last season we ended up fourth, but had we had the ‘rub of the green’ in a couple of matches we may well have challenged for the third spot. As a community rugby club we feel very comfortable within Division 2 West, currently we have no aspirations to work and play towards a Division 1 placing, although as a rugby club we have in place most of the laid down criteria demanded by the WRU. As a group of administrators we have sat down often enough and thought long and hard of this, and come to the same conclusion each time, ‘No,’ we would not have the kind of financial clout to maintain and support our existence in Division 1, that is being very honest and realistic. It is no secret that rugby club sides in Division 1 need financial backers, to increase and improve their quality of squads, and that does not come your way without considerably added expense, Kidwelly RFC do not want to go down that road, quite honestly we could not financially consider the prospect, we could not afford to, it would ruin the club. As administrators we must at all times have the best interests of the club at heart, we are charged with being custodians of the game of rugby within our small community of Kidwelly, we must at all times strive to maintain and preserve this very simple game, in order that the future generation of children can play the game and share in the experiences and joy that the game of rugby brings. Having said all that, as a club we cannot afford to become complacent, our pride will not allow us to even think of sliding down the divisions, we must always look towards improving our game, developing our youth and junior rugby programme and consolidating all of what is good within the club.
Many years ago when the West Wales League evolved, Kidwelly RFC with other clubs such as Penclawdd, Pontardulais, Tumble, Pontyberem and others were placed in Section A of the West Wales League, and during that league’s existence, which was for many, many years until the WRU brought in the Heineken League, Kidwelly quite uniqely maintained their position in Section A of that league from beginning to end. Quite some feat in those days! During those years a number of players went onto achieve honours with other clubs, the two that readily spring to mind are Gerald Davies and the late Ray Gravell, both represented Wales and became British Lions. Years before Derek Clarke and Hywel Jones both went onto play for Llanelli RFC against the touring ‘All Blacks,’ different eras of course but nevertheless quite an achievement, Hywel Jones had the unenviable task of marking Colin Meads; not long after Derek Clarke’s encounter with the All Blacks he signed professional terms with Salford Rugby League Club. Even before that Gordon Lewis, a Mynydd-y-Garreg product left the club to play for Swansea RFC a robust yet talented centre who decided to take the trail north, Gordon signed professional terms with Leigh Rugby League Club. Gordon during his playing days for Leigh Rugby League Club represented the Great Britain Rugby League team. Gordon married a local girl and made his home in the area. Another local product is Stephen Williams our current forwards coach, Stephen holds the club record for the number of appearances for the club. Stephen has also represented the British Police team and toured both Canada and South Africa with them.
There are several features which perhaps are peculiar to the club, the family connections which seem to be especially marked with Kidwelly. The number of fathers and sons who have played for Kidwelly and also the sets of brothers to have played. At one time, Kidwelly had three sets of brothers playing in the same team-Dai and Harry Reynolds, Allan and Ken Denman and Freddie and Tyssul Bevan. Kidwelly had at one time five brothers in one team, all the Lewis’-Tom, Baden, Syd, William Gearge and Dai Lewis. One family, the Williams’ produced three brothers who all captained the club, Illtud, Bert and Richie.
The father and son relationship has also been prominent throughout the years, two families spring to mind the Davies family, the father being the late Iorwerth Davies (who was a Life Member) and his sons, Gareth, John, Colin and Ian; then the late Colin John and his four sons, Steve, Wayne, Michael and Paul. There are a whole host of others too countless to name, however within our current 1st XV we have two brothers playing, those being Jamie and Dean Hollands, their father Teddy Hollands served the club admirably for several seasons.
Administratively we have father and son, the late Haydn and son Hywel Rees, also both Life Members; then we have the late JR Thomas, Treasurer of the Club, his son Robert is the current Treasurer of Kidwelly RFC (Social) and Wyn is the Club’s Fixture Secretary. Also administratively we have had three club members hold the position of WRU District G Representatives, namely Les Williams, JR Thomas and our current District G representative Anthony John. In Les Williams we have a gentleman who rose from the ranks of District Representative to become the Vice-Chairman of the WRU. Les had to retire from the position of Vice-Chairman of the WRU due to ill-health, but continues to keep a keen interest in the club’s fortunes. From within this family good fortune has played it’s part on the club, Les’s sons Robert of WRW has been extremely generous to the club in sponsoring the re-furbishing of the lounge area, and Raymond who played rugby for Kidwelly RFC for many seasons is equally generous, and is the current Club President.
Currently the Club have four Life Members, Les Williams, Hywel Rees, Mike Evans and Ken Denman – a well deserved recognition for the many, many years of loyal and devoted service to the Club.
It was extremely difficult to select from within the large circle of players/people who have served and continue to serve the club loyally, but I feel there is a need to mention a young player by the name of Calvin Williams. Calvin is a local product, having emerged from the ranks of Junior and Youth rugby, graduating to being a regular selection at the position of ‘loose head,’ for the 1st XV. He possesses the qualities of loyalty, dependability and is thoroughly steeped in being robustly and fearlessly committed to his task of ‘front row technology.’ He is very much a team player, delights in being engaged in-without malice-at best winning the confrontation with his opposing tight head prop, or at worse holding his own. As a personality he is unassuming and quiet by nature, yet he exudes an enthusiasm for the game of rugby by his performance on the rugby field; as an individual he is very honest and trustworthy, has the respect of his peers, and possesses an attitude of concern and willingness where other people are concerned.
Peter Morris is the club’s Director of Rugby, a position he fulfills in a very responsible and passionate manner, an immense amount of respect is afforded him by the players, coaches, club officials and his peers. Peter is well known by a host of his contemporaries from his playing days, even these days he has not admitted to being fully retired from the game-there were one or two occasions last season that Peter made up the ‘subs-bench’ due to injuries. He is Kidwelly RFC through and through, he works tirelessly for the club, he is known affectionately by all in the club as ‘Peter Bonk.’ He displays a tireless energy towards ensuring that players are available on match-days, he also displays the same degree of concern that injured players receive the appropriate treatment, be it merely a visit to the club’s ‘physio,’ he also ensures that they are made aware that they are important and very much in his thoughts. When a potential new recruit visits the club and/or training session, he emphasises the positive points of the rugby playing side of the club, but at the same time points out that the 1st team players play for their places and need to perform to retain their place. He liaises and communicates regularly with key people within the club’s rugby playing and supporting circle. Peter’s blood group is quite unique, it reads Black and Amber 1stXV.
Our Chairman, Dennis Williams, an ex-prop-deserves a mention, he has the essential attributes and qualities which are good for the club. The well running of the rugby side of the club is always upper most in his thoughts and close to his heart. His concerns that money is not wasted is well known within the club, and his spendthrift methods of budgetry controls take a great deal of convincing to overturn; he has been known to hide match balls lest they be used. In his position of Chairman, he leads the rugby committee in a manner which is both responsible and sensible. During match days he hands out the jerseys and collects the same number in for laundry, at both home and away matches, he is very much a hands on Chairman. Dennis’ Epitaph could perhaps read: ‘How much was the meat draw this week?’ ‘Have the players paid their subs yet?’ ‘Whose doing the raffle this Saturday?’ All this is done not softly nor melodiously, but with a deeply hidden sense of affection!