CARDIFF ATHLETIC RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Cardiff Rugby Football Club was founded in 1876 and played its first game against Newport at Wentloog Marshes on 2nd December of that year. The first home fixtures were played at Sophia Gardens. However, the club soon relocated to its famous ground at Cardiff Arms Park, named after the local Cardiff Arms public house. The Arms Park has seen many developments, originally home to both Cardiff Cricket and Rugby matches. Until 1969 Cardiff and Wales played their home matches on the same pitch but a change came in the 1969-70 season. As a result of an agreement between Cardiff Athletic Club and the Welsh Rugby Union, the National Ground project established a new stadium for international matches with club rugby fixtures switched to the original cricket ground on the Arms Park site.
Cardiff Athletic Club/Cardiff R.F.C. Ltd. Inter-relationship
With the advent of professional rugby, approval was given at an Extraordinary General Meeting of the Cardiff Athletic Club held on 14th May 1997 to amend the rules of the Club enabling the Management Committee to instruct its Trustees to acquire £500,000 Ordinary £1 Shares in the capital of Cardiff Rugby Football Club Ltd. Following the drawing up of an Asset Transfer Agreement between CAC and the Company and in consideration payable by the Company for the transfer of assets, an allotment to the CAC Trustees of 750,000 Heritage Shares of £1 each was credited as fully paid. This gave CAC a total shareholding of £1,250,000. This entitled CAC to appoint 3 Non-Executive Directors to the Management Board of the Company, two by virtue of the Heritage Shareholding and one by virtue of the Ordinary Shareholding. The CAC representatives on the Company Board currently are Malcolm Childs, Keith Morgan and Chris Nott. The three representatives serve for a three year period and are then either re-appointed by the CAC Management Committee or replaced with nominations being put forward to the Management Committee from the constituent Sections.
With effect from 1st February1997 a 25 year Lease of the whole of the land in the freehold ownership of CAC including the Club House and car parking areas within the Arms Park (excluding the Bowls Pavilion and bowling green) was granted to the Company at an agreed annual rental. It is a repairing lease with rent reviews every fifth year. Similarly, under the terms of a Services Agreement drawn up between the two parties, the Company provides administrative services to the CAC in consideration of retaining the subscription fees paid by members of the Rugby Section. Under these arrangements the Company derives revenues from the sale of season tickets, gate receipts, sponsorship, television rights, advertising, catering, licensing the Arms Park for music and other events, rent from hospitality suites and car parking spaces and bar takings. The Company also receives income from the WRU towards the running costs of the Region including the Cardiff Premiership side. Due to the hard work and determination of the Cardiff Athletic Club, Rugby section management team, and with the help of the Cardiff Supporters Club, they find additional revenue from sponsorship and fund raising events to field competitive sides for the Premiership games.
Through the Cardiff Blues development scheme it has now become common practice to include Cardiff Athletic Premiership players in the Cardiff Blue’s side.
Move of the ‘Blues’ to Leckwith
The recently announced decision to move the ‘Blues’ side to share the new Cardiff City Football Club Stadium currently being built at Leckwith was an executive decision taken by the Cardiff RFC Ltd. Board. The Management Committee of the CAC was not consulted in the process of reaching the decision and had no means of influencing the conclusion reached by the Board. In the increasingly competitive world of modern-day professional rugby and looking at the issues from the viewpoint of commercial viability in the future, such a move can only be regarded as inevitable. Sad though it is to loose the world renowned and longstanding traditions associated with rugby and the Arms Park, the inevitable has to be accepted.
For some time now the CAC Management Committee, through the Rugby Section has endeavoured to take over the running of the Premiership side with a view to retaining it at the Arms Park. Unfortunately this has not proved possible as neither the WRU nor CRFC Ltd. is prepared for that to happen. The best that has been achieved is that the Premiership side is administered by the Rugby Section acting as Agents to the Company.
Cardiff Athletic Rugby Club won the South Wales Challenge Cup on 12th March 1881 against Llanelly (as then spelt). Cardiff were Heineken Cup finalists in 1996, domestic Cup champions on seven occasions, in 1981, 1982, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1994 and 1997, Welsh League champions in 1995 and won the Welsh/Scottish league title in 2000.
With immortals such as Gwyn Nicholls, Rhys Gabe, Percy Bush, Wilfred Wooller, Dr Jack Matthews, Bleddyn Williams, Cliff Morgan, Gerald Davies, Barry John, Gareth Edwards, John Scott, Rob Howley and David Young all playing in Blue and Black through the ages, it is no surprise that Cardiff has provided more players to the Welsh national team and British Isles than any other club in Wales. And so the trend continues.