Our History

Clwb Rygbi Y Tymbl - Tumble RFC

A copy of Tumble RFC 1897-1949 by J. Myrddin Davies can be found at the following link:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/160z7lpJajEvt5v76SooytqRyQ5UkSTrz/view?usp=sharing

Established in 1897 under the initial captaincy of Orphie Evans Clwb Rygbi Y Tymbl or Tumble RFC were one of the most successful rugby clubs from the old West Wales Rugby Union. Nicknamed the 'Magpies', or 'Y Piod' in Welsh due to their distinctive black and white hooped jersey the club's peak in terms of success came during the 1980's where they managed the feat of winning the WWRU President Cup five times, the WWRU Challenge Cup four times and the WWRU Championship three times.

Whilst the black and white hooped jersey is synonymous with the club it is a little known fact that the original club colours were Blue and Gold quarters and it was this strip that was worn in the first game back in 1897 when the team walked to near neighbours Pontyberem RFC and defeated the hosts by a try to nil. The club were formed at the Tumble Hotel and played their first games at the Hotel fields which were across the road and roughly where the Pharmacy on Heol y Neuadd now stands (trees sawn down from a local woodland were used to construct the posts). Over the first 50 years the club moved headquarters and playing fields several times - with games also being played off Ty-Isha Road and Lletty Road amongst other places.

The club were the first winners of West Wales Rugby Union (WWRU) Challenge Cup in 1933, successfully defending the trophy for a further two seasons before being crowned WWRU league Champions for the first time in season 1937/38. In season 1945/46 the club won it's first post war trophy when it picked up the Challenge Cup for the fourth time. Tumble successfully defended the trophy the following season. The club won the Challenge Cup in 1946/47 and the Championship again in season 1949/50.

During the next three decades the club's success waned a little with the Magpies only wining the Challenge Cup twice, in seasons 1962/63 and 1971/72, when they defeated Penclawdd RFC at Stradey Park in the final before also claiming the President's Cup. During the 1970's, mostly under the captaincy of goalkicking front-rower Brian Jones there were also Challenge Cup final defeats to Kidwelly RFC (1973) and Seven Sisters RFC (1975) as well as wins in the WWRU Cup 1974/75, 1975/76 and the Eurof Davies Memorial Cup 1974/75.

Up to this point the club had changed head quarters on a number of occasions before in 1964 the decision was made to amalgamate Tumble RFC with the Great Mountain Workingmen's Club. The amalgamation of both clubs created the Great Mountain and Tumble Rugby Football Club which was official opened by Col. W. Kemmis Buckley of Buckley's Brewery on 20th September 1966 with the addition of the large function room to the rear of the building.

(ABOVE) The Magpies playing Cefneithin RFC in the 1960's.

The 1980's can be seen as the Golden Era for the club when the Magpies, under the coaching of John 'Coch' Williams and then the John brothers, Clive and Alan became the dominant force in West Wales rugby. In 1983/84 Tumble were crowned West Wales Champions for the first time in 34 years, a title they reclaimed the following year, along with the Challenge Cup. They held onto the cup for a further four years and in 1987/88 they won the West Wales Championship for the last time before the nationalisation of the league system. 1987/88 season was somewhat of a pinnacle for the club where under the captaincy of scrum half Arwel Davies the 1st, 2nd and Youth XVs had the distinction of wining every competition they were entered in, the fabled 'Grand Slam' season.

(Above) 1987/88 Grand Slam winning 1st XV squad.

1988/89 season saw the Magpies win their last trophy of the illustrious 1980's when they defeated Felinfoel RFC 23-13 at Stradey Park - their fourth cup win in four seasons. The club remain the most successful WWRU club with a record 12 wins in the Challenge (Tovali) Cup and 8 wins in the President's Cup. The Magpies are joint record West Wales Championship winners with Seven Sisters RFC on 5 wins each.

In 1990 Tumble gained Heineken National League status and with that departed the Great Mountain Workingmen's Club to take up residency in the former Tumble Hotel. In 1991/92 the club won the Heineken National League Division 4 Championship and in 1995/96 the club reclaimed the WWRU Challenge Cup for the twelfth time under the captaincy of Richard Hardy, losing out on the Heineken League Division 4 title to Merthyr RFC on bonus points, despite having won more games (18) and having beaten Ironmen home and away.

 

The IRB made the game of rugby union 'open' to professionalism in 1995 and it was at the time of its centenary season in 1996/97 that the club began to struggle. Not being able to compete financially against clubs from larger town's there was a serious downturn in fortunes and it was only due to the number of players being produced by it's junior and youth sections that the club survived.

In 2006/07 after a number of struggles and false dawns the club won the WRU Division 3 West Championship and the WWRU Brains SA Bowl. The club suffered successive relegations in seasons 2007/08 and 2008/09 but in season 2009/10 under the coaching of Arwel and Gareth Davies the Magpies won WRU Division 4 West as well as adding the Brains SA Plate to the trophy cabinet (beating Cwmgwrach RFC at Dunvant in the final). It was in 2010 that the club moved it's headquarters back to the Great Mountain Workingmen's Club after 20 years at the former Tumble Hotel which was earmarked for closure. Further trophies followed when the club won the Brians SA Bowl for the second time in season 2011/12, defeating Seven Sisters 27-26 at Dunvant RFC.  This win ensured that Tumble RFC had the distinction of becoming the first club to win the 'treble' of WWRU Cup, Bowl and Plate. 2013/14 saw the disappointment of a bottom place finish and subsequent relegation. The appointment of Chris Davies, Marc Kinnaird and Hugh Gustafson as a coaching unit saw the club recover to secure a fourth place finish in Division 3 West A for 2014/15. Season 2015/16 will do down as another successful one in the history of the club with the 1st XV clinching the Division 3 West B championship by a point from second placed Lampeter Town. The Magpies finished the season with a playing record of played 20, won 16, drawn 1, lost 3 - points 79. Another season of transition followed in 2018/19 with relegation back to Division 3 West B. At the point of the 2019/20 season being cancelled due to the Covid-19 global pandemic the Magpies had been joint top of Division 3 West B (along with Amman United RFC) and had also found themselves one game off a Principality Stadium final in the semi-final of the Specsavers National Bowl.

The club currently run a full complement of junior sides from under 7's to under 16's and a Youth team (under 19's).

In 2016 the club reformed it's womens team which were duly nicknamed 'Y Piod Pinc' - 'the Pink Magpies'. The club had originally ran a women's team for three seasons from 1992/93 before it was disbanded. The women's section within the club is slowly establishing itself and a girls junior side 'Pinc Bach' were added in 2019. The club had established its own girls rugby hub called 'Merched Mynydd Mawr' in 2020 which was to operate out of Ysgol Maes y Gwendraeth and act as a development pathway for girls rugby in the area. Unfortunately the Covid-19 pandemic has led to its postponement.

 

International Players:

One of Tumble's most notable players, was Welsh international Archie Skym. Although Skym had already moved to Llanelli RFC at the time he was first capped, he came to the attention of larger clubs when representing Tumble. He joined the team from a local side at Drefach, and in December 1926 left Tumble for the Scarlets. Skym earned 20 caps for Wales and also went on to play over 200 games for Cardiff RFC.

Former Tumble RFC player Des Jones also gained a cap in 1948 whilst playing at Llanelli RFC whilst D. Ken Jones tuned out for the club before having a successful career with Llanelli, Cardiff and Wales in the 1960s.

Gareth Davies the former Cardiff, Wales and British Lions outside half of the late 70's early 80's and current Welsh Rugby Union chairman was born in Tumble and played youth team rugby for the club before moving into the first class game. Another notable former player is Richard Rees the former Neath, Newport, Swansea, Scarlets and Wales wing.

Dwayne Peel the former Llanelli Scarlets, Sale Sharks, Bristol, Wales and British Lions scrum half, who is now attack coach at the Irish province Ulster is a product of the club's junior system as are Bath's Darren Allinson formally of the Cardiff Blues, Nicholas Cudd of the Newport Gwent Dragons and Hugh Gustafson and Daniel Evans of the Ospreys.

Former Wales Under 20 outside half and Wales 7s international Billy McBryde played for the club's junior section before moving to Llanelli RFC and the Scarlets Academy while his father Robin (Wales forwards coach) is a club vice-president. Gareth Williams, a former club junior section player is the Wales 7's head coach and was assistant coach for the Team GB Rugby 7's squad at the Rio Olympics.

 

British & Irish Lions:

Four players with close links to Tumble RFC have represented the British & Irish Lions -

D. Ken Jones - 1962, 1966

Gareth Davies - 1980

Robin McBryde - 2001

Dwayne Peel - 2005

Ymlaen Y Piod