Mid Wales

Senghenydd disaster charity rugby match replayed 100 years on

The Christ College team from 1913
Image caption The Christ College side which lost 9-6 to Crickhowell on 25 October, 1913

A rugby match staged 100 years ago to raise money for the families of 439 victims of the UK's worst mining disaster has been replayed in Powys.

Christ College Brecon took on Crickhowell RFC but this time the teams were raising money for a memorial marking the miners' deaths.

A methane explosion ripped through Universal Colliery in Senghenydd in the Aber valley on 14 October, 1913.

Eleven days later the charity game raised about £800 in today's money.

Money raised from Saturday's fixture between the independent school and a youth team from Crickhowell will go towards the national mining memorial, which is to be unveiled on the 100th anniversary of the Senghenydd disaster next month.

'Hugely enthusiastic'

The memorial will commemorate 150 mining disasters, including Gleision in the Swansea Valley, where four men died in 2011.

Mal Powell, Crickhowell RFC's historian, approached Christ College about replaying the game to mark the centenary.

"I had come across the 1913 match during my own research," Mr Powell said.

"In Crickhowell RFC archives we hold a copy of the letter sent to the Lord Mayor of Cardiff enclosing the donation of £7 3s 2d to the Senghenydd Relief Fund, which is about £800 in today's money.

"When I approached Christ College with the idea of a return match Tim Trumper, director of sport, was hugely enthusiastic and it all went from there."

Crickhowell won the game 100 years ago, 9-6. It turned out to be significant because it was the only fixture the team won all season, said Mr Powell.

A century on, Christ College got their revenge with a 29-5 victory.

'Pause and remember'

Image caption The Universal Colliery pithead wrecked by the explosion

Jack Humphreys, chairman of the Aber Valley Heritage Group which is behind the national mining memorial, said: "The game between these two sides 100 years ago generated much needed funds for the families whose relatives died in the Universal College explosion.

"This return fixture marking the centenary of the Senghenydd mining disaster is a fitting tribute and we're pleased to have the support of both teams once again."

Head teacher at Christ College Emma Taylor said it was a great pleasure to welcome players and supporters from around the region to Christ College for the special match.

"The event will obviously be tinged with the sadness that inevitably attends such memorials, and it is right that we pause and remember those miners who lost their lives and the tragic impact on their community," she added.

"At the same time this match will offer a celebration of the pride, tradition and camaraderie that reside almost uniquely in the game of rugby and I hope that the game will provide great enjoyment both for those who play and those who watch."

The original fixture was played less than a year before the start of World War I and Mr Powell said members of the Crickhowell team served in the war but survived.

However, four of Christ College's 1913 team died.

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