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Welsh Quoits in Merthyr Tydfil


Welsh Quoits in Merthyr Tydfil

Quoits (koits, kwoits) is a traditional game which involves the throwing of metal, rope or rubber rings over a set distance, usually to land over or near a spike. Wales and Scotland play a distinctly different game from the English one - the Long game. The Long game has similarities to the game of bowls, in that a player scores a point for each quoit nearer to the pin than his opponent. The hobs are 18 yards apart, while the quoits are typically around nine inches in diameter and weigh up to 11 pounds, almost double that of the northern English game.

There is historical evidence from 1388 of attempts to ban Quoits from pubs and taverns due to its disreputable character and it was not until the nineteenth century that the official rules first appeared; in the April 1881 edition of 'The Field'. 

Although the great days of quoiting in South Wales were between the 1870s and 1930s, with flourishing leagues and international matches between Wales and England and Scotland; this sport was popular in Merthyr Tydfil in much earlier days. In his article Celtic Connections: Early Quoiting in Merthyr Tydfil, Innes MacLeod draws attention to a Quoiting Society founded in Merthyr Tydfil in 1842. The centre of this sport seems to have been the Star Inn, Lower High Street, where the annual general meeting and club dinner took place. The Club was essentially Scottish in character but at once recruited at least four Welshmen. The Merthyr Tydfil Quoiting Society, which recruited 30 members in its first session was ‘chiefly composed’ of  Scotch itinerant tea dealers and drapers. A Merthyr Quoiting Song celebrated not only the joys of quoiting but the friendship of all players ‘Welshman or Scot’. Important contests were played in the 1850s in Cardiff and Swansea.


The following local information is from The History of Quoits in Wales by Albert Baker, 1932.  The only occasion when a player failed to score in an International match, was at Merthyr in 1901. R. Davies of Dowlais was the Welsh treasurer, 1922 - 1926 and amongst the secretaries of the Quoits Club was Inspector Milton M. Thomas, Merthyr, 1912 - 1914. Heolgerrig was the local centre for Quoits and T. Griffiths of  Heolgerrig was Welsh runner up in 1904  and the Welsh Championship took place in Heolgerrig  in 1906 , 1907 and 1919. In 1912 J. Thomas of  Heolgerrig   won the Welsh Championship. The international against England was played in Merthyr Tydfil in 1899 and 1901 and on both occasions Wales won. In 1914 the match was played in Cefn Coed. In 1925 John Powell, Dowlais was the Captain of the Welsh team, they played in Kent and Wales was the victor. In 1931 the match against Scotland was played in Merthyr but Scotland won.  International quoits players included amongst others R. Davies of Merthyr Vale, T. Griffiths, Heolgerrig,   R. Jones of Merthyr , Eddy Jones of  Merthyr, D. Morton, Troedyrhiw, John Owen of  Heolgerrig, John Powell,  Dowlais, Watkin Jones of Heolgerrig, John Price from  Cyfarthfa and   Jack Thomas of Merthyr Tydfil.


Wales and Scotland still play a hotly contested match every year.  In Wales, the game is concentrated in a few clubs based around Dyfed and Powys.  The Welsh Quoiting Board (Bwrdd Coetio Cymru) fizzled out around 1960 but it was reconstituted in 1979 and is now affiliated to the Welsh Sports Council. 



Celtic Connections: Early Quoiting in Merthyr Tydfil, Innes MacLeod

In the excellent Merthyr Historian volume 17

 Carolyn Jacob



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