From The Vaults

27 June 2022
Recent Acquisition: Magor Maidens jersey

The World Rugby Museum recently welcomed Jackie Dyer, RFU Council Member for Nottingham, Lincolnshire, and Derbyshire, as she donated a Magor Maidens jersey, one of the twelve founding teams of the Women's Rugby Football Union (WRFU).

The Magor Maidens formed in 1979 when a Californian men's rugby team toured Britain with their women's team as well. Jackie Dyer was in the local sixth form at the time and she recalled,

"the word went out that this Californian team were touring and Magor and Caldicott both had male Californian teams coming quite regularly, but yeah that year there was this female team, did anyone want to put on some opposition - yeah alright!"

Cairwyn Evans, another founding member of Magor, agreed, recalling that,

"we got together a team to play the American women in an exhibition match and my father agreed to coach us" - 'Scrumming Down with the Girls', Evening Standard, 20 November 1985.

The Californian side left a lasting impression in the UK, also inspiring teams at Loughborough University and Warwick University.

While the team eventually had their own kit in red with long sleeves and their own badge, Dyer recalled that they started playing in yellow:

"they were the Magor men's second team shirts … and yes I do remember wearing one that was caked in mud to play in, and you just were trying to shake it off because it was heavier than the shirt… and they stank!"

When the chance came, the team switched to red to emulate the Welsh national team.

The informal and fairly impromptu nature of the Magor Maiden's formation did not detract from their later importance in the development of women's rugby in Great Britain. In 1983 many of the country's women's rugby teams came together to form their own governing body, the WRFU. The WRFU supported women's rugby in England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales between 1983 and 1993, and remained the governing body in England, Ireland, and Wales until 1994. Magor was the only founding team based at a rugby club rather than a university.

Jackie Dyer had to give up being a Magor Maiden after leaving sixth form but has come back to rugby as an administrator. Firstly acting as the mini and juniors development manager at her local rugby club, Dyer eventually became Chair and in the summer of 2021 was approached about becoming an RFU Council member. Dyer is one of two representatives for the Nottingham, Lincolnshire and Derbyshire Rugby Football Union whilst continuing to serve as Chair of Belper RFC.

The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Jackie Dyer for her donation of a jersey which marks an important historical moment in the development of women's rugby in Great Britain. Our mission is to celebrate and share the unique history, culture and tradition of rugby union in all its forms, wherever and by whomsoever it is played, and we are pleased to continue growing our collection of items related to women's rugby with this acquisition.