As in Welsh schools, playing cricket was actively encouraged at universities in the Principality from the late 19th century onwards. By the early 20th century, educational centres such as Trinity College Carmarthen and St. David’s College, Lampeter had strong cricket teams.
These universities and colleges in Wales helped to spread the game of cricket in the 19th century, especially at those institutions who specialized in training teachers or religious leaders. The lessons of healthy manly exercise were subsequently spread to schools and churches throughout Wales.
St. David’s College, Lampeter
St. David’s College was an important outpost of Muscular Christianity following the passing of a College rule in 1850 that students “should spend their spare time in healthful exercise rather than in clownish lounging about the shops or market place.” This rule followed the appointment of the Rev. Rowland Williams, the College’s new vice-Principal. Despite the fact that the College’s annual intake at the time only numbered around fifteen, they were able to stage regular practices and in 1852, they played a match against the Lampeter Town club.
Trinity College, Carmarthen
Established in 1848, Trinity College was another college where students could have a sound classical education, besides participating in healthy recreation. From 1856 they held an annual match against the town club, and from 1860 they hired a professional to assist with coaching and the preparation of a decent wicket.
St Mary’s Training College, Caernarvon
Another cricketing hotbed in North Wales was St. Mary’s Training College in Caernarvon where young men were trained to be clerics or teachers. The College began annual matches with the Bangor club during the 1860s, and they met with much success in subsequent years, until disaster struck and a fire completely gutted their College buildings, forcing them to amalgamate with the new University of North Wales at Bangor in 1891.
University teams from the likes of Aberystwyth, Cardiff, Swansea and Bangor have also enjoyed success in the various national competitions organized by the Universities Athletic Union.
In 1999 the Cardiff University Cricketing Centre of Excellence (UCCE) was created, pooling the cream of student talent from Cardiff University, UWIC (now Cardiff Met.) and Glamorgan University (now the University of South Wales).
From 2012 their matches, now played as Cardiff MCCU following financial support from the MCC, have been deemed to be first-class. The photograph below shows the Cardiff side in their inaugural first-class fixture against Somerset at Taunton Vale in March 2012.