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News > Christ College Archive > A century of XV photographs

A century of XV photographs

Now added to the Gallery
30 years ago
30 years ago

Like the Cricket XI Gallery, the Rugby XV Gallery does not tell the whole story of Rugby, nor are the images the earliest rugby photographs in the Collection. The Gallery is there simply for your enjoyment.

The low-res photographs by Tempest are published with the kind permission of Tempest. If you would like high-res prints, or later photographs, you can purchase them directly from Tempest Group Photography

You'll need to log in to view the Gallery. If you choose to view the photographs chronologically, you’ll spot a few historical details hidden in them.

The hooped jerseys seen in the 1919/20 photograph had seen their first appearance in Michaelmas 1896, when the XV colours changed to green and gold from light and dark blue.  

The stripes were replaced by the plain green jersey in 1970, the ‘h’ on the sewn-on patch styled in the new version of the ‘h’ designed in the summer of that year. When stripes made a reappearance in 1985, the plain jersey was worn no more. Since then, variations in green and gold stripes, quarters and more stripes have characterised the various seasons, with an amplified ‘h’ popularly appearing in modern kit.

Collars to jerseys were always white, much to the horror of those who had to wash out the remnants of red Brecon soil. But in the 1938/39 photograph (taken pre-war in 1938) the players in the XV photograph are wearing jerseys with black collars. The same black collars are worn by all the players in the 1939/40 and 1940/41 seasons. By 1943/44 all the collars are white again but they continue to appear occasionally to 1950. We are led to believe the black collars denoted that the player had played in the Llandovery game. If you can confirm that or you know of a different reason for the black collars, contact Huw or Felicity. We’d like to know more. 

Olly Lewis. Captain of Rugby 2018-19. 

Players who had been awarded their ‘rugby colours’ were allowed to wear a green XV blazer from 1915/16 until the system for awarding colours was changed in 2008. The tradition of the green blazer has been reintroduced for Captains, and the Captain of Rugby is awarded a green blazer at the start of the season.

XV caps seen in the photographs were first awarded in the 1880s and worn by those XV players who had been awarded their colours. The earliest caps were blue velvet. After 1896, when the XV livery was changed to green and gold, the caps became dark green velvet with gold-coloured metallic tassels. Though caps were awarded until the late 1940s, from the 1920s onwards you have to look carefully to see them tucked into the blazer pocket.

And finally, a matter of nomenclature. 

For consistency, the Gallery photographs are labelled 'Rugby XV'. However, those of you who know something of the history of the game will know that many of the photographs should more properly be labelled  ‘Football XV', 'Football' being the name by which the game was first known. 

Until 1949/50, the XV game was reported in The Breconian as the ‘Football Season’. Each side was captained by a ‘Captain of Football’ up to and including AP Baker (1962/63), who turned out to be the very last ‘Captain of Football’.

From 1949/50 the game was referred to as ‘Rugby Football’ when reported, and often still reported in short form as ‘football’ with players known as ‘footballers’. The first reference to a ‘Rugby Season’ is in The Breconian of Christmas 1962, but the side is still captained by the 'Captain of Football'. 

In numbers of The Breconian subsequent to 1962, the XV side is always referred to as the 'Rugby XV’. The first captain with the title ‘Captain of Rugby’ was CQ Newland (1963/64). However, when PLC Hayward captained the 1st XV in 1964/65, he was officially ‘Captain of Rugby Football’ as was JT Gibbs in 1965/66. The first of the continuous run of ‘Captains of Rugby’ does not begin until AD Scott’s captaincy in 1966/67.

From 1966/67 onwards, ‘football’ disappears from all references to the XV game and the terminology is just as we use today: rugby, captain of rugby, and players. 

We have a surprising number of XV jerseys in the Textile Collection but we have very few of the modern era. If you have a XV jersey (or socks) from 1985 onwards, or you would like to offer an earlier jersey (or socks), contact Huw or Felicity. We’d really like to grow the textile collection.




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