Will Phillips continued as captain in 1880-81. Dromio (W. J. T. Collins) commented about this season as follows:
"There was no more striking feature in connection with the 1880-81 season than the broadening of the bounds of selection. With the rise of new clubs it was recognised that the town club were duty bound to make the team as far as possible representative of the playing talent of the town. Through all the years since then football ability and good sportsmanship have been the passports to the Newport XV. No club has more successfully resisted the temptations of exclusiveness. If a man is a good player and a good sportsman that is all that is demanded."
New players who appeared were Fred Dowdall, H. Capel, W. Young, G. Lloyd Jones, H. Peperall, H. McDaniel and Tom Clapp. 40 players were used of whom 13 were Old Monmouthians, 5 Newport Crusaders, 4 Maindee and 1 Rover. The Old Mons were: C. H. Newman, G. Rosser, G. F. Harding, T. Harding, B. Newman, C. Jordan, T. Clapp, H. E. Jones, T. Baker-Jones, T. King, W. Wood, E. Robathan and F. C. Jones. George Rosser played in all 14 matches, Harold Lyne in 13 and Will Phillips, F. Dowdell, H. Capel and W. Young each played in 12 matches.
George Rosser easily led the try scorers with 19 followed by J. Jex Woods with 9.
Comment on season 1880-81 must include the historic foundation of the Welsh Rugby Union, noting the prominent role of Newport RFC in that event.
It is argued that the origins of the Welsh Rugby Football Union can be traced to a meeting at the Tenby Hotel in Swansea in March 1880, involving Cardiff, Chepstow, Haverfordwest, Llandaff, Llanelli, Neath, Newport, Pontypridd and Swansea clubs. A strange mix of clubs and, unfortunately, no evidence of the event. However, in November of that year Richard Mullock of the Newport club challenged the Rugby Football Union to a match against Wales, eventually set for 19th February 1881 at Blackheath.
The team fielded for the historic occasion was diverse and represented the length and breadth of Wales with a goodly Newport contingent: C. H. Newman (Newport), R. H. B. Summers (Haverfordwest) - fullbacks; J. A. Bevan (Cambridge Univ. and Newport) (capt.), E. Peake (Chepstow and Newport) - three-quarters; L. Watkins (Llandaff and Cardiff), E. J. Lewis (Llandovery) - half-backs; F. J. Purdon (Newport), G. F. Harding (Newport), T. A. Rees (Llandovery), B. E. Girling (Cardiff), B. B. Mann (Cardiff), W. D. Phillips (Cardiff), E. Treharne (Pontypridd), G. Darbishire (Bangor), R. D. Garnons Williams (Brecon and Newport) - forwards.
They were thrashed by England by seven goals, a dropped goal and six tries to nil; also conceding eleven touch downs in defence.
The South Wales Football Union denied any involvement in the fixture pushing the responsibility firmly into the individual lap of Richard Mullock. But the die was cast and the following report subsequently appeared in a number of South Wales newspapers:-
"Welsh Rugby Football Union"
"A meeting was held at the Castle Hotel, Neath, on Saturday last (12 March, 1881), the following clubs being represented: Swansea, Lampeter, Llandeilo, Cardiff, Newport, Llanelli, Merthyr, Llandovery, Brecon, Pontypool and Bangor, to consider the question of establishing a Welsh Rugby Union. The chair was taken by Mr. Richardson, captain of the Swansea club, and after considerable discussion it was proposed by the Chairman and seconded by Mr. F. Meager, Swansea, that a Welsh Rugby Football Union be formed. This resolution was carried unanimously. It was then proposed by Mr. Mullock, Newport, and seconded by Mr. Margrave, Llanelli, that Mr. C. C. Chambers, president of the Swansea Football Club, be elected president of the Welsh Rugby Football Union for the season 1881-2. The next proposition by the Chairman and seconded by Mr. Mullock, was that Mr. E. C. Fry, Cardiff, and Mr. C. P. Lewis, Llandovery, be elected vice-presidents of the Welsh Rugby Union for the season 1881-2. Carried unanimously. The election of a committee, which will in all probability consist of a member of each club in the Union, was left until the next meeting which will be held during this month. Mr. Forester, Merthyr, proposed and Mr. Knill, Swansea, seconded, that Mr. Richard Mullock be elected hon. secretary to the W.R.U. The hon. secretary was instructed to prepare for the next meeting a draft copy of proposed bye-laws to govern the Welsh Rugby Union. The annual subscription was fixed at £1 1s., with an entrance fee of £1 1s."
The Welsh Rugby Union was born with the Newport man, Richard Mullock, playing a leading role in its formation and emerging as its first secretary.