Usk RFC are part of the Monmouthshire District and the Newport Gwent Dragons.
The historic town of Usk and its Rugby Club both have their origins back in the mists of time. The town is situated in the picturesque Vale of Usk on the banks of the River Usk, renowned world wide for the quality of its salmon fishing. Although there were pre-Roman small Iron Age forts in and around the town, the first settlement was in Roman times. In that era, the town was known as Burrium and formed an integral part of the Roman occupation of Wales.
In the Dark Ages or Celtic times, Usk was know as Bryn Buga and after the Norman conquest, the county of Gwent became a Norman stronghold. More than twelve castles were built in the Marchlands of Monmouthshire and the strong square keep in Usk was an example of Norman domination. In later years, further fortified extensions and enlargements were made to Usk Castle and a well-known local family occupies Castle House to this day.
During the Middle Ages, the town moved away from the manorial system based on the Usk Castle, to become a market town. The industrial Revolution which changed life so dramatically in the Western Valleys of Gwent, passed Usk by and today the town retains all the character and features of a small market town. The population is still only around 2,200 and its street pattern, shops, etc. are typical of such market towns in a rural setting. The number and type of hostelries, be they hotels or pubs, reflect the heritage of the town as a local market and cultural centre which continutes to attract numerous visitors each year.
During the 1870s. rugby clubs were beginning to form in Wales and the first recorded fixture for Usk RFC was against Newport in 1874. By 1880 there were still only 30 clubs in Wales, one of which was Usk. In 1881, the Welsh Rugby Union was formed at the Castle Hotel in Neath by a meeting attended by 11 clubs as a result of a proposal from Mr. Mullock from Newport RFC. It was significant that with Usk and Newport having been formed in 1874, the centenary celebrations of both clubs in 1974 would commence with the teams playing against one another at Usk on 2nd September 1974.
Whilst the recorded history of Usk RFC is somewhat sketchy during its initial and pre-First World War period, it can safely be established that some form of rugby continued to be played at Usk from its introduction in 1874 to the present day. The only recognised breaks occured during the two World Wars and it is interesting to qoute from the minutes of the Annual General Meeting of Usk RFC held at the Three Salmons Hotel on 22nd July 1945, immediately after World War II in Europe ended
"The minutes of the Annual General Meeting of July 21st 1939 were read, confirmed and signed".
Such times, dates and places are not always easy to come by in looking at the history of the club. Playing fields, changing rooms, head quarters have changed over the years. Various hostelries, town hall, drill hall and even the local prison have been called upon as changing rooms and meeting places over the long history of the club. We do know that our present playing field, known as "Red Shed Meadow" has been our home for the last 60 years.
In the beginning, this field was held on a lease from a local land owner but in October 1952 an advertisement appeared in the Welsh National Press - The Western Mail - that the ground was to be offered for sale at a local auction. Without the knowledge of Club members a Cardiff Solicitor saw this advertisement, contacted the Club secretary and asked him to attend the auction and bid for the ground on his behalf. On the 28th of October 1952 the Rugby Club Committee were informed that a Mr. Ewan Davies a former Welsh International and now practicing as a solicitor in Cardiff had purchased the ground and wished to donate to Usk Rugby Club.
This generous gesture encouraged the Committee and Club members to first contemplate and then organise the construction of a Club House and facilities on the site of the Rugby Field. Eventually, and with the aid of a loan from the Welsh Rugby Union, a grant from the National Playing Field Association and monies raised locally, it was possible to plan and construct a comprehensive Club House and adjoining changing rooms. The labour force consisted solely of Club members although advice on technical and building matters was provided by local craftsmen.
On Wednesday 12th September 1956, following a celebratory match against a Newport XV, Mr. Ewan Davies officially opened the Club House and facilities were far superior to any held by similar Clubs in Wales. Even today, there are few Clubs of our size and standard who can claim to have a Club and ground resources to match that of Usk R.F.C.
Over the many years of the clubs existence, the playing record has followed the pattern of most Rugby Clubs. There have been some good seasons, indifferent and occasionally poor seasons. We have had, and will continue to have, our peaks and troughs. We will continue to have many good players who have learnt their craft at Usk but progressed to other Clubs playing in other divisions. We have, in comparatively recent times, had two ex - Club players who represented Wales.
We have attempted to broaden our horizons and this visit to America is an extension of this concept. For many years now we have enjoyed tours to other parts of England, Scotland and Ireland We visited France for the first time in 1967 and since then have undertaken numerous tours to France, Belgium and other European countries. We have also received and entertained at Usk teams from outside our shore, from France, Holland. Canada and the other Home Countries.
Written by J.D.Jones
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