This month 150 years ago, the first cable car was patented by Andres Smith Hallidie, a flock of birds so big flew over San Francisco that the entire sky darkened, and in a small Central London restaurant on Pall Mall, the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was formed.
In a meeting of 21 clubs on January 26th, 1871, many of whom are still going strong today, the RFU became the first governing body in world rugby. In its sesquicentennial anniversary, it’s worth taking a look at some of the clubs still in existence all of these years later.
Belsize Park RFC
Belsize Park RFC play their games in Regent’s Park, making them the club closest to the centre of London. With one of the most scenic playing areas, no wonder the on-field success is as good as the views off-field.
Across their eight senior teams (six men’s, one women’s and a vets team) and minis and teams, the club have secured 15 promotions in the last 8 years.
Blackheath Rugby Club
Blackheath Rugby Club, situated in their namesake, make the podium of the world’s oldest rugby clubs in continuous existence, sitting third. Their first XV play in National League One, the third tier of English rugby.
The wider club have three men’s teams, a women’s team and a vets XV, in addition to growing junior and minis sections.
CS Stags 1863
The Civil Service’s history traces back to the earliest game on record, a match against Blackheath on 14th November 1863.
The CS Stags, based in West London, compete in the London & South East Premier Division, going from strength to strength.
For more information on CS Stags 1863, check out their website – https://www.pitchero.com/clubs/civilservicefootballclubru/ and their Twitter & Instagram feeds.
Guy’s Hospital RFC
Formed in 1843, the same year Charles Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ is published, Guy’s Hospital RFC is the oldest rugby club in the world.
Currently formed of three teams, they play in the Kent leagues as well as having a team in the BUCS university leagues.
Harlequins Rugby Union
Harlequins are the playing at the highest level of domestic Rugby Union in England, the Gallagher Premiership, which they won in 2011/2012. Their Women’s team play in the Allianz Premier 15s competition, currently a maximum points total of 40 out of 40.
They have provided 196 players for the England men’s national team, 17 of which have been captain, including Will Carling and Chris Robshaw.
For more information on Harlequins, please visit their website – www.quins.co.uk
King’s College Hospital RFC
In 1869, 90 members from King’s College formed a rugby club representing faculties, including the famous Medical Department.
They currently have three men’s teams, a women’s team, and a growing mini & junior section. Kings College Hospital play their games at Dulwich Sports Ground in South-East London.
Richmond RFC’s first XV play in the Greene King Championship, the RFU-run second tier of rugby in England.
They regularly fill six men’s teams, a women’s section, and have a minis section starting at under 4’s!
Wimbledon’s first recorded game was played on Boxing day 1865, against Richmond Rugby Club, and were then known as the Wimbledon Hornets.
They are able to field four men’s teams, with their first XV playing in London and South East Premier League. They also have a thriving women’s side and growing mini and junior sections.
Rugby has come a long way since that meeting on Pall Mall, just ten miles from the spot we know today as Twickenham Stadium. The game has changed, the rules have changed, and the fans have changed, but 150 years on, many clubs remain playing the great oval-balled game, carrying the legacy of the many others who have come and gone since that day in 1871.
Main image credit – https://www.wikiwand.com/fr/Histoire_du_rugby_%C3%A0_XV