As Bath Rugby prepare to face Scarlets at Colwyn Bay's Parc Eirias this Saturday (14:30), we take a look at a tradition that has existed between these two historic clubs for almost a century.
The famous Rag Doll has been contested between these two sides – synonymous with rugby in Wales and England – since 1921, with the three-foot tall mannequin hanging from the crossbar and decked in the colours of the side which won the last fixture.
There is some debate as to the origins of the Rag Doll. Most believe it was presented to Bath by T.R. Mills, the owner of the Salutation Inn, then the headquarters of Llanelli Rugby Club; others say it was the handiwork of another licensee, Bath supporter Rosina Rothery of the Queen’s Head at Box.
There have been a few mannequin-related mishaps along the way. In the 1935-36 season, Llanelli (as Scarlets were then known) mislaid the Rag Doll and instead sent what they saw as a fitting replacement: a can of Felinfoel beer from the oldest brewery in Wales. (In fairness to Llanelli, it was the first time canned beer had ever been produced outside of the USA.)
More recently, it was official International Rugby Board guidelines rather than absent-mindedness which denied supporters the pleasure of seeing the Rag Doll dangling from its customary position under the crossbar. In 2002, the IRB determined that it should be placed above the protective padding around the posts for the Heineken Cup quarter-final at the Rec.
Bath Rugby haven’t relinquished the Rag Doll since winning it back in a pre-season game in 2007, making the latest chapter in this cross-border history even more intriguing, with Bath still retaining the mannequin after a hard-fought draw at the Rec two years ago this week.
If you'd like to visit the scenic surrounds of Colwyn Bay to support the boys, click here to purchase tickets.