Libraries Gave Us Power

I recently borrowed a copy of the above book from Kairdiff Central Library and very much looked forward to reading about the many triumphs of the Scarlets since their inception in 2003. On collecting it, my initial reaction was one of surprise given the size and thickness of said volume in relation to the relative absence of the latter during the period in question-but I looked forward to dipping into its contents nevertheless.

Imagine my horror when I found that this so called ‘Official’ history is not a history of the Scarlets at all, but a very thinly disguised account of both the history of Llanelli RFC and the ‘proper’ Scarlets regional team that rightly replaced them at the top table of Welsh rugby. My outrage was complete when I got to page 142 and was greeted by the heading ‘New home, new name, same heritage’.

Whilst I am sure that the author, a certain Mr. Gibbard, had excellent intentions, he is clearly no historian, having chosen to conflate the stories of what are clearly two entirely separate rugby teams. How could such a basic error be allowed to happen? How on earth did the proof reader not pick this up?

My temper cooled somewhat when I was reminded of the fact, reported on the same infamous page 142, that Llanelli (sic) had fought to retain stand-alone status at the advent of regional rugby. The confused narrative of Mr. Gibbard was more understandable in this context and I was gradually persuaded that this Darwinian account of the evolution of one our most historic clubs into its modern professional counterpart made complete sense. How I wished that my own club, Cardiff, had also fought for stand-alone status in 2003…how much clearer things would have been if it had.

The serious point is of course is that it did - and that Llanelli Scarlets have (officially) grasped a nettle that Cardiff Blues seem terrified to wander anywhere near. It’s really not that difficult is it? The Cardiff Football Club was formed out of the merger of Cardiff Wanderers and Glamorgan Football Club in 1876. As Cardiff RFC, it continued to represent the top-flight of local rugby until morphing into the Cardiff Blues in 2003, acquiring the epithet ‘the greatest’ in the process. These step changes are part of one continuous history and to represent them as anything else is inaccurate, disrespectful and, most importantly, a major failure in marketing.

Having spent a good deal of time cataloguing the heritage material at Cardiff Arms Park in recent weeks, I’m increasing bemused at how we’ve ended up with such a confused identity and, in the process, failed to capitalise on the incredible wealth of artefacts that document the history of the game within the City. One pitch, but two teams, two supporters’ clubs, even two choirs; how we only have one clubhouse is a mystery and presumably the result of an internal planning error. So, we have camps that only support the ubiquitously named Blues and those who similarly will only get out of bed to watch the Premiership side. Many sit in the middle and, through no fault of their own, are totally ignorant of the history that sits beneath the current branding –something which in any sensible business man’s mind would be a pivotal building block in developing affinity. The Blues however appear to have no interest in their own heritage, but prefer to cling to a tenuous, fabricated image of uncertain lineage. While the parentage of the Llanelli Scarlets is well documented, the formation of Cardiff Blues was seemingly an immaculate conception.

“Explain the relationship between Cardiff Blues and Cardiff RFC” is an essay question that all children in this area should be able to answer. The unfortunate reality is that the majority who pass through the gates at Cardiff Arms Park would fail the paper-it’s that unclear. Let’s hope that the proposed redevelopment of our ground is more than just an exercise in physical demolition and reconstruction. Let’s use it as an opportunity to do a Llanelli Scarlets, and hope that it not only provides the direction for Cardiff rugby for the next 50 years, but that it builds on the massive foundations of the last 140. This requires give and take from both the Blues and RFC sides of the fence-in fact, it requires the fence to be demolished along with the other bits of the Arms Park that are no longer fit for purpose. As Alun Gibbard has proved-in what is an excellent book-it’s not hard to do if the desire is there.

I’ll be taking the book back soon-so it will be available for any Chairman, Chief Executive, Director and Committee man who wants to borrow and learn from it.


  • Mon, 02/01/2017 - 21:44 reply

    A brilliant blog. Cardiff has all the ingredients for a first rate marketing campaign and now must be the time to fully capitalise on its heritage & promise.

  • Tom
    Tue, 03/01/2017 - 08:36 reply

    Great work Dave. The apologists have taken over the asylum. In trying to be all things to all men/women the board have ended up being nothing to nobody and creating divisions within their own supporter base.

  • Tue, 03/01/2017 - 14:15 reply

    Cardiff Blues advertising for marketing manager today.Anyone here up for the job?

  • Tue, 03/01/2017 - 16:16 reply

    I don't think they'd have me!

  • Wed, 04/01/2017 - 20:42 reply

    It would be easy for me to praise Dave having known him as a very good friend for over 30 years but it really is an excellent piece, and jogged my memory to all those fantastic times ive shared supporting Cardiff RFC and the Blues, and ive always tried to convince myself that they really still "one and the same" so to try and ignore that history is simply crazy when its your biggest asset, I also note the marketing vacancy, and do hold the required marketing qualifications but would need a braver man or woman than me im afraid.

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