"What we did here, we took advantage of the fact that a lot of people are attached to the rugby club, they were members or players, we’ve got jobs we want to do here so lets muck in and do it."
[T]hrought the lineage, my father, and grandfather, and his father, they all did it for the love of it and they never got paid… I know I could have played for some teams for 50-60 pounds a week, but I'd rather come here and play for nothing, and just crack on.”
A Chronological History of Seven Sisters RFC
1870 - 1890 Rough start for Rugby
- 1872 - Evan Evans-Bevan begins construction of the Seven Sisters Colliery
- 1881 – Possibly the first unofficial game in Seven Sisters. There is some speculation that unofficial matches were played before this time between Seven Sisters and Crynant in order to settle disputes on the pitch.
- 1881 - Welsh Rugby Union created in the Castle Hotel in Neath.
- 1883 - Rough beginning for Welsh Rugby - Home National Championship (now the Six Nations Championship - Wales, England, Ireland, Scotland, France, Italy) played for the first time, Wales did not win a single match.
1890 - 1900
- 1891 - Free and compulsory primary education mandated by Elementary Education Act
- 1897 – Seven Sisters Rugby Club formed
- 1898 – A single miners’ union existed for the first time across the whole coalfield.
- 1900s - There were more women killed in childbirth than miners killed underground by the turn of the century
1900 - 1910 Golden Era of Rugby
- 1900-1910 – Golden Era of Welsh rugby - won Triple Crown (England, Wales, Ireland) 3 times and defeated the “All Blacks” of New Zealand nearly every season (Triple Crown - 1900, 1902, 1905. Runners Up - 1901, 1903, 1904)
- 1903 - Seven Sisters becomes an early innovator when Evan Evans-Bevan installs electricity in the mine for the workers, as well as in the train station.
- 1904 Religious Revival
- 1905 - Wales National Team versus the “All Blacks” was the first recorded instance of a national anthem being sung at a sporting event.
- 1908 – 8-hour workday established.
1910 - 1920
- 1912 - minimum wage laws established and secondary education mandated
- 1913 - Senghenydd Disaster (439 lives lost through negligence of the coal owners)
- 1914 - the Great War begins
- 1916 - The Cambria Daily published an article on the death of a local Seven Sisters mine worker and rugby player in nearby Resolven. The article read:
- 1917 - The small but growing town of Seven Sisters installed street lighting on many of its major roads. This made it possible to enjoy nightly activities after getting off of work at the coal mine. Among these activities were drinking, sports, and concerts.
- 1919 - The Welsh Rugby Union lifted the ban on rugby matches and play increased from prewar numbers. Chris Evans, a local Seven Sisters history interviewed several players in the 1950’s and 60’s. These interviews give rare looks into lives of the players from the time such as Harry John Hooper.
1920 - 1930 Miner's Struggles
- 1920s – Miners’ Welfare Fund & Seven Sisters Welfare society improve community infrastructure.
- 1921 - the mines were returned to private owners who in turn cut wages to make up for lack of innovation.
- 1926 - After years of ups and downs, the mine workers went on strike on May 3. The strike did not last long due to poor planning by the strike leaders at the time. Later in 1926, a lockout occurred within the Welsh Rugby Union for roughly 7 months. The lockout of the higher up teams led to increased participation in smaller local teams.
The time surrounding the post-World War I was rocky in the mining industry. The Miner's Federation of Great Britain had hit a peak of nearly 950,000 members and were calling for 6 hour workdays with 35% pay increases. The prime minister had issued a statement that mines were going to return the private owners from before the war.
1930 - 1940
- 1932-1934 – Play ceased due to poor conditions of Ty’n-y-Garreg field.
- 1934 - New Recreational Miners’ Welfare ground was made available
- 1937-1938 - One of the most successful seasons for Seven Sisters, with 19 out of 37 victories.
- 1938 - Seven Sisters RFC was granted a Welsh Rugby Union Charter for the first time
1940 - 1950 World War II
From 1939-45, rugby was again disbanded in Wales due to the Second World War. Men played within the military, and some youth still played at home, but it was not until the establishment of the Boys Club in 1945 that rugby restarted in Wales. The club in Seven Sisters did not continue until after a meeting they had on March 8, 1946, in the Bryndulais Hotel. With the youth team to aid the club, 1946-48’ were great years for the club.
- 1946 – Club reformed after WWII
- 1948 – Achieved membership in Welsh Rugby Union
- 1949 – First youth team formed
1950 - 1960
- 1950 - May Jenkins, Betty Jenkins, and several other women established a social club that provided refreshments after matches. The establishment of the social club allowed women to become more involved in the Seven Sisters Rugby Club.
- During the years 1952-54, Seven Sisters experienced their best seasons in the teams history which later became known as the new "golden age" for the club.
1960 - 1970 Decade of youth and champions
- Pit Closures - Onllywyn No. 3 (Banwen)-1961, Seven Sisters- April 1963, Onllwyn- 1964, Dillwyn-1965, Cefn Coed- 1968.-- Rugby Club helped keep the close-knit culture created by the pit.
- 1962 - New Clubhouse opened on Easter. Seven Sisters was the first Welsh club to have a bar on site!
- 1964-1966 – 111 Women join the club.
- 1967 - Rugby youth team was established. Kelvin Herdman, a former miner in Seven Sisters, was the youth team’s first captain.*
- 1967-1968 – Back-to-back West Wales Championships
- 1960’s- Seven Sisters became known as the “Barbarians”
- 1960/61 - President’s Cup Winners
- Winner West Wales Championship- 1960-61, 1966-67, 1967-68
1970 - 1980
- 1973-74 - Opening of new ground & the Club’s seventy fifth season
- 1975/76 - Winners of West Wales Cup
1980 - 1990 Miner's strike
- Winners of West Wales Cup in 1982-1983 and 1983-1984.
- Winners of President’s Cup - 1982-1983.
- 1984-1985 - Miners’ Strike
1990 - 2000
- 1990 - Blaenant Colliery closed. Many people who were laid off when the Seven Sisters colliery closed had gone to Blaenant.
- 1990 - Last deep mine closed in the Valley
- 1990/91 - West Wales President’s Cup Champions
- 1990/91 - West Wales Championship Winners
- 1994/95 - Seven Sisters joined Heineken League Division 5. This was the last time the team won all four division trophies under West Wales League.
- 1995/96 - Neath and District Division 1 Championship Winners
- 1997/98 - SWALEC Cup Semifinal
- 1999/2000 - OG Davies Cup Winners
2000 - present rugby revolution
- 2000/01 - West Wales President’s Cup Champions
- 2001/02 - H.G. Lewis Cup Champions
- 2004/05 - Ospreys U16 Plate Champions
- 2007 - creation of women’s rugby teams
- 2010 - Dulais Valley concept established
- 2012/13 - Ospreys U15 Plate Champions - 2012/2013
- 2012/13 - Ospreys Youth Division D Champions - Unbeaten
- 2013/14 - Ospreys Youth Champions - Unbeaten