THE FAMILY of one of Wales’ greatest ever rugby players have said they feel "betrayed" by Newport rugby club, after memorabilia they loaned to the club, with an estimated insurance valuation of around £250,000, went missing.

The first Welsh rugby superstar, Arthur " Monkey" Gould ( he was so nicknamed because of a childhood love of climbing trees) captained Wales to their first ever Triple Crown in 1893 and played in the first Welsh win over England.

Newport RFC says an investigation has been launched.

Born in Newport in 1864, he set a host of records both for Wales and Newport RFC, where he was part of the famous "invincibles" team of 1891-2, which went through the entire season unbeaten.

In 1978 the Gould family agreed to loan Newport RFC a collection of some of both Arthur and his brother Edward Wyatt Gould, who also played for Newport’s memorabilia, so that it could go on display for the public.

The collection included Arthur Gould’s Welsh jersey, his Welsh cap, both men’s Newport caps and jerseys, as well Arthur’s gold watch which the invincibles side received for their achievement and Wyatt’s Olympic participation medal from the 1908 games in London.

But when Gareth Harvey from Barry, Great Grandson of Wyatt Gould, went to try and collect his family’s Olympic medal last year, so it could used in the Following the Flame exhibition ahead of the Olympics, he discovered that all the items were missing.

Mr Harvey contacted the club and in January of this year received a letter which said that after an extensive search of the Everson room at Rodney Parade, where the items had been on display, the club were sorry but had been unable to find any of them.

Mr Harvey, said: " We feel it is a betrayal of the trust we put in the club to look after the items.

"We wanted them to be on display for the public to enjoy and celebrate.

"The letter the club sent is inadequate, we want a thorough, professional search of all parts of Rodney Parade.

"If they are not in the club where are they and what are they doing about it?"

Robert Gould, Arthur’s grandson, who now lives in Newquay, Cornwall, said: "It leaves me speechless that they have lost these irreplaceable items.

"Someone knows where all this is and if they don’t they should.

"It is the off-hand totally couldn’t care less attitude of Newport rugby club which has left us absolutely incensed.

"He was the first player they inducted into the Newport rugby club hall of fame in March and yet they still don’t know where his items are. It leaves me horrified."

Dai Richards, a collector of Welsh rugby memorabilia who runs Rugby Relics, said: ‘You would be looking at some of the most important artefacts in Welsh rugby history.

If I was putting an insurance valuation on it, it would be about a quarter of a million pounds.

His Welsh cap alone would be worth up to £50,000.

"He was the first Welsh rugby superstar. When you list the greats; Gareth Edwards, Cliff Jones, Barry John, Shane Williams, Monkey Gould is at the head of the list, he was the first."

A spokeswoman for Newport RFC, said: "Newport RFC very proudly displayed a limited amount of Gould family memorabilia for several decades in secure glass cases, although there are no records of us having held any of Wyatt Gould’s medals.

"Our investigations to date strongly suggest these items were returned to Arthur Gould’s immediate family in the early 1990s.

"Investigations are ongoing and could take some time as we go through all the committee meeting minutes.

"The Gould family played a huge part in creating Newport Athletic Club and the suggestion we would treat any items belonging to this family with anything less than the upmost respect has been met with disbelief and disappointment by committee members and officials."

Arthur Gould's achievements Captained Wales in 18 of his 27 caps, a record which was only broken by Ieuan Evans in1994.

His record of 37 tries in just 24 games in the 1892-3 season for Newport is a record for tries in a single season for the club which still stands 118 years on.

So revered was Gould that in 1897, a testimonial fund of donations from the Welsh public allowed the then Welsh Football Union (the for-runner of the WRU) to donate him a house in Clytha-Park, Newport.

He was Wales' most capped centre until Steve Fenwick broke the record in 1980