Although it is believed that rugby had been played in Pontyclun from the early 1880s; a game between a team from Pontyclun and Pentyrch was called off after crowd trouble in 1884, it is thought the rugby club was not created until 1886.
The club accepts its creation date as 1887 as proof that Pontyclun played as a RFC during the 1887/88 season is recorded in the Pontypridd Chronicle in November 11 1887. The match was recorded as Pontypridd Juniors against Pontyclown (a common misspelling of the town during the late 1800s) which Pontyclun won.
There is also a report in the South Wales Daily News, November 12 1888, of a match between Bridgend and Pontyclown which was news-worthy due to Pontyclun taking offence at the referee, resulting in the team leaving the pitch eight minutes before the end of the match. This novel feature of the game seems to have been common practice at the time.
On 7th September 1897 Pontyclun RFC applied for membership to the Welsh Rugby Union along with Llandovery, Chepstow and Brecon. Their membership was granted in a meeting held at the Queen’s Hotel in Cardiff taking the WRU membership to 48.
Unfortunately for Pontyclun in 1896 the WRU appointed a new secretary, Walter E. Rees, and he brought an element of financial stability to an organisation that was once wasteful. Where clubs were once able to miss membership subscription fees with little reprise, Rees ensured that this was no longer the case and Pontyclun lost their WRU membership in 1900 due to missed subscriptions.
Youth teams were first organised in Pontyclun in the early 1900s being a mix of schoolboys and youths.
Pontyclun RFC re-applied for Welsh Rugby Union membership in 1919 along with Llanharan and Taffs Well. All three clubs were awarded membership on 22 August of that year.
The team first played on a field which is now the site of Ysgol y Pant; until moving to Mill Fields and in due course to Windsor park.
The roaring twenties were just that for the club with a succession of good teams and Pontyclun providing a stream of talent for first class clubs and a Welsh international – Tommy Rees or Tommy Italy as he was known. The club had a good reputation even holding their own against 1st class sides.
It is at this time that in 1927 the club fixed its now Black and White colours which are still used to this day.
The 1928-29 season stood out as the club did not let opposition score a single try against them at home that year.
Whilst the club’s facilities in these days were quite primitive a home match was a great occasion with the Talygarn Brass band often marching at the head of the teams from changing rooms at the Windsor to the pitch at Mill field.
All play stopped for the second world war but after this play resumed with many pre-war players back for the club.
Over the years the changing rooms have included a tin shed, a small pavilion, space at the Windsor and even the loft at a farm (with animals on the ground floor). After the war the club was so embarrassed that they advised the WRU that they were using the Athletic Club for changing.
This was not a suitable state of affairs for an up and coming club and shortly after the war they raised £40 which was used to purchase an old goods depot shed from Llanharry station. The players put it up and some showers and basic electricity was installed. These new changing rooms were nicknamed “The pagoda” and remained in use for over 35 years.
In 1959 the team formed a 2nd XV and a consistent youth team was organised from 1965 (having first been tried in 1958)
The 60s saw the club fielding 70-80 players a week including mid-week games. The club had gained a reputation for enjoying their rugby and great hospitality at their Headquarters which were now at the Pontyclun Institute Athletic club, and the envy of many visiting teams. This attracted players from many areas.
In the 1966/67 season, seeking more freedom, the club moved its headquarters to the Bute Hotel, but by 1969 they were back at the Athletic.
In 1971 the club formed a mini rugby team. Pontyclun, St Albans, Tredegar Ironsides and Aberamman and Cowbridge being the first sides in Wales to play mini rugby.
Over the years the Club has gained an enviable reputation in Mini Rugby with a proud record. There has been a focus on enjoyment above winning and attitude above ability and this has brought success over the long term to the club. This includes the U15s winning the first ever Cardiff Blues Land Rover cup in May 2018
September 1971 and a match to celebrate the clubs 75th anniversary brought a star studded Presidents XV full of Welsh internationals lead by Clive Rowlands.
By August 1979 the drive was on again to have a clubhouse for the team and notice was given to the Athletic Club that the club would be moving.
A new clubhouse was built at Windsor Park and it first opened its doors on 30 March 1980 with the grand opening a few weeks later.
Cliff Jones, the President of Pontyclun RFC became president of the WRU in the 1980/81 season, the first person to be President of a club and the WRU at the same time.
This was also the centenary year of the WRU and the opportunity to celebrate this and a new clubhouse was too good to miss. On the 24th April 1981 virtually the whole of the Presidents XV who were playing Wales the next day in Cardiff visited Pontyclun. Internationals from South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, France and the other home countries mixed with club players and members on a very memorable night.
To top off that year the minis won the National Mini Rugby festival at the Arms Park bringing the Willie Llewellyn cup to Pontyclun.
The Club is fortunate that Cliff Jones was its President for 38 years. With his work as an administrator at the WRU bringing in a constant stream of a “Who’s who” in Welsh Rugby coming to the club. Indeed, in Welsh Rugby circles at this time if you wanted to know where Pontyclun was, the answer was most likely to be “You know, its Cliff’s club” rather than getting a set of directions how to get here.
The Falcons were formed in 1998 and are one of the longest running Women’s team in Wales.
They currently play in the Welsh premiership and were league winners for the 2015 / 2016 & 2018 / 2019 seasons.
They have been Super Cup Finalists in 2001, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2015 & 2019 and were winners of the Plate in 2009.
Several players have represented Wales at senior level including Gem Hallett, Laura Prosser, Cerys Hale, Rafiuke Taylor, Vicky Owens, Mel Clay, Lisa Newton, Georgia Evans & Megan Webb
Pontyclun Walking Rugby team
February 2019 saw a Walking Rugby team start in Pontyclun.
This was the third such team in Wales and they are helping the WRU develop this fast growing sport which by early 2020 had over 20 teams across South Wales.
Regular monthly festivals are held at various clubs with opposition from England crossing the bridge to take part.