A RARE medal to mark Penarth Rugby Club’s victory in the 1888 Cardiff Football Union Final is attracting bids of more than £70,000.

The 121-year-old medal has been part of Cardiff businessman Dave Dalton’s collection for several years, after he discovered it in a house clearance.

But Mr Dalton was unaware of the medal’s significance - or of its value - until a collector dated it back to 1888.

Following the shock discovery, Mr Dalton set up a website to give rugby memorabilia collectors a chance to bid for the medal – and it has already attracted some huge offers.

“It’s relatively modest looking,” said Mr Dalton.

“Just over an inch square and made of silver and enamel. But we’ve been astounded to discover its full significance.

“A number of other collectors have tried to help identify it – including collectors from New Zealand and Australia.

“But it wasn’t until I showed it to a local rugby historian in Cardiff that we realised what a rare object it was and how it fitted into the history of the very beginnings of Welsh rugby.”

Gwyn Prescott, who has researched the history of rugby in Cardiff in the 19th century, identified it as a medal marking the victory of Penarth in the 1888 Cardiff Football Union Cup final.

He said: “This Union was set up to run the cup competition between sides in the Cardiff area at a time when the game was really taking off in the Principality, and was in existence only for a few years.

“It was disbanded when Penarth were awarded the cup outright after the fourth final, having won it three times.

"The cup is now in the Penarth club museum.

“Pivotal to the story of the medal is the time in which it was won, at a turning point of the game into an exciting, free-flowing sport which we would recognise today.”

Despite hoping to sell the medal to the highest bidder, Mr Dalton says he would like to see it remain in Wales.

“Clubs like Penarth were changing the way the game was played for ever,” he added.

“This is why collectors around the world have been taking so much interest.

“The bids I have received so far have been from other countries, but it would be nice to think that the medal could stay in Wales.”

For more information, or to make a bid, visit: www.1888rugbymedal.co.uk