A PRICELESS haul of rugby jerseys collected by a Newport legend that were stored for decades in a cardboard box in the attic have gone on display.

The collection of 17 shirts were accumulated by former Wales back row forward Charles Meyrick Pritchard, who made 219 appearances for the Black and Ambers between 1902 and 1911.

The 14-times capped international, who died in the First World War, swapped jerseys and occasionally donned them along with his teammates in charity games.

The haul includes a Newport shirt – with the initials CMP on the collar and a label reading 'A. Simmonds, shirt maker, football outfitter, 26 High Street, Newport, Mon' – a New Zealand one from their legendary 1905 tour and a Wales jersey.

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They are presently on exhibition at the World Rugby Museum at Twickenham until June and have inspired a book.

It was while researching his 2016 book 'Newport Rugby Greats' that author Peter Jones got wind of the collection and he tracked down Geraldine Pritchard, Charlie's granddaughter, and Gareth Pritchard, Charlie's great grandson and keeper of the shirts.

In November 2017 the historian, who had been shown a grainy picture of the jerseys, finally got to see them in person.

"It was in a Tupperware box in the attic and the first shirt on top was an All Blacks one from 1905 – I was gobsmacked," said Jones. "The family had them in an old cardboard box for years, they are chuffed because I don't think they were aware of their importance."

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The historian has written 'I Did My Bit' about Pritchard, the title referring to his final words in the trenches in 1916.

"I remember thinking 'there's a book in this' but it was on the backburner while doing the Newport one," said Jones.

"Once that was out of the way I went to see the family and then when I saw the shirts suddenly all the lights were on!

"I approach it as a storyteller. The shirts are the focal point with Charlie as the link.

"It was a golden age of rugby – Wales were the best team in the world – and this is the background to how the sport grew but with a personal angle. It is Charlie's story that drives the book on."

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The collection is now on display at Twickenham and Jones will hold a talk before the Black and Ambers' Premiership fixture against Llandovery on February 16 (1pm start, 2.30pm kick-off).

The book will be on sale at that fixture through the Friends of Newport Rugby Trust, priced £9.99.

Email commercial@newportrfc.co.uk to reserve a copy.

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