Pontypool Rugby Football Club is a Welsh rugby union team currently playing in the Welsh Premier Division. Their home ground is Pontypool Park, (Pontypool).
Pontypool RFC was one of the eleven clubs present at the formation of the Welsh Rugby Union in Neath in 1881. During the 1877-78 season, Pontypool were one of six teams that created the South Wales Cup competition away from the larger more established clubs.
During the early 1920s Pontypool was one of several major Welsh clubs to suffer from the emergence of professional rugby in England. In the 1921-22 season Pontypool RFC began with only seven players available to them on their roster as players moved to clubs that paid a wage to play. Pontypool RFC continued to struggle through the 1920s, even though their success on the field was impressive. In 1927 Pontypool were victorious against the Waratahs and the Maoris but were two thousand pounds in debt, and the WRU's refusal to allow them a fixture against the Springboks caused local resentment.
Post war years
In December 1947 a combined Pontypool, Talywain and Blaenavon side played against the Australian national team at Pontypool Park as part of a post-war rebuilding tour. The game ended 0-0.
The great days of Pontypool RFC were in the 1970s and 1980s, when Ray Prosser was coach for eighteen years from 1969. An away match at Pontypool was a daunting experience for even the strongest sides during this period. Their best ever season was probably 1987-88, when they won 35 matches out of 36, scoring 1011 points.
The club's strength during its glory days was its forwards, particularly the legendary "Pontypool Front Row" celebrated in song by Max Boyce. The Pontypool Front Row also known as the "Viet Gwent", (motto "We may go down; we may go up; but we never go back") was made up of Graham Price, Bobby Windsor and Charlie Faulkner and played as a unit 19 times for Wales, only finishing on the losing side four times. They also played as a unit for the British and Irish Lions in several midweek matches, though never in a test.
In the 2007/08 season Pontypool RFC was declared champions of Division One East and gained promotion to the Premiership Division unopposed as WRU Division One West champion's, Tonmawr RFC, failed to achieve criteria laid out by the Welsh Rugby Union to allow membership of the Premiership Division. Therefore Tonmawr were not invited to contest the single promotion place against Pontypool RFC in a play off game.
Notable former players
- David Bishop
- Eddie Butler
- Ray Cale
- Terry Cobner
- Charlie Faulkner
- Chris Huish
- Staff Jones
- John Perkins
- Graham Price
- Mark Ring
- Jeff Squire
- Bobby Windsor
- 1975-75 Welsh Unofficial Club Championship and Ten Clubs' Merit Table - Champions
- 1982-83 Welsh cup - winners
- 2002-03 Welsh National League Division 1 - Champions
- 2007-08 WRU Division One East - Champions