A Brief History of the Rugby Memorabilia Society
It is likely that there have been collectors of rugby programmes, books, menus, post cards, pictures and all the paraphernalia that goes with the game since it was first played. However in 1985 a group of rugby programme collectors decided that it would be a good idea to set up a club for those with similar hobbies. Thus the Rugby Programme Club was set up, with Paul Morgan as founder, so November 2015 marked 30 years since our ‘source society’ began.
After five years establishing its existence the club began to develop and expand its appeal. An effort was made by Dave Fox, who then ran the club, to recruit members with interests wider than exclusively programmes. As editor of the club's magazine he made every effort in it to deal with all types of memorabilia. Membership increased five-fold to 300 worldwide. Successfully achieved, with the tireless help of Ray ‘Mr Pontypool’ Ruddick: but effectively, the club now had the wrong name.
The Rugby Programme Club was wound up and an initial committee invited to form from it a completely new organisation: the Rugby Memorabilia Society was born. Cliff Morgan was invited to be honorary President and Alan Evans, then Cardiff RFC's media manager, Chairman. In March 1996 a new publication was produced - "Touchlines" - which took the old Rugby Programme Club magazine to a new level.
Throughout the ensuing years changes were made at committee level, and the Society has evolved into its current position. Our other Chairmen have been Phil Atkinson (a former Head who is President of Rhymney RFC, and partly through his endeavours we acquired high profile vice - presidents in the sadly now-deceased Bleddyn Williams and Gerald Davies, who took over from Cliff Morgan as President on Cliff’s passing); Mark Hoskins (a teacher from Bristol, whose goal for his period at the helm was for the Society to produce its own quality memorabilia. A set of postcards commemorating the jubilee of the 1951/52 South African tour was produced and we commemorated 50 years since Wales last beat NZ with a cover autographed by the two captains, Bleddyn Williams and Bob Stuart); and now Brian Maggs (another retired headteacher, from Mountain Ash but long resident in Hereford).
The editorship of ‘Touchlines’ passed to Arron Jones, then to our marvellous and much-missed member, the late Roger Harris, before Phil Atkinson took over more recently. Mark Hoskins, meanwhile, collates a newsletter called "No Side", published every other month for the "anoraks" in the Society.
Mike Havard of Risca is now the RMS Secretary, and Peter Douglas-Davies has succeeded Dave Fox and then Paul Northey as our Webmaster. Charles Russell-Smith (Bristol) and Steve Bennett (Newport) have for many years been, respectively, the Society’s Treasurer and Membership Secretary.
We have been fortunate, too, in gaining further impressive vice - presidents in Ireland’s Ollie Campbell, England’s John Bentley and the USA’s Brian Vizard. Previous vice presidents included NZ’s Colin Meads until his sad passing away.
Social evenings are now an important part of the Society in South Wales and the West, and having regular guest speakers has proved a most enjoyable way to develop our interests in the game of rugby. We wish other areas could develop similarly suitable sessions, and also hope our web-site will whet the appetite of new members and come and join us.Subscribe
Our summer Sunday AGM with business, speaker, raffle, auction, food and sales is our major event and we have been most fortunate with the generosity and quality of the speakers, both there and in other, evening, meetings. Tom David at the Pontypridd AGM in 2016 was a grand recent example.
We hold regular postal auctions and have also very successfully helped former Wales and British Lions forwards Allan Martin, Brian Price and Bryn Meredith to dispose of their remarkable collections of rugby memorabilia with members thereby having first call on some magnificent items.