Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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v Clifton College 12th December 1874

 
 
 

This was the first club versus college match. The scoring rules were still to be changed, so the match was drawn despite the club scoring a try. A match report appeared in ‘The Cliftonian’ magazine, Vol. IV, and gives a typical Victorian account of a rugby match:

THE COLLEGE v. THE CLIFTON CLUB

This match was played on Saturday, Dec. 12th, on Bigside. The strangers mustered, as we had expected, a strong and heavy team forward, with fair men behind the scrimmage. Dakyns won the toss and chose the bottom goal, the strangers kicked off, and for some while the ball remained on the lower side, about half way down the ground. As the ground was exceedingly greasy the work forward was very hard; the strangers, notwithstanding their weight and good play forward, could not drive back the School much, and what was lost was soon recovered by the good play of our half-backs. Deacon helped the strangers greatly by the powers of running. After some while he made a run which carried play across the other side of the ground and considerably nearer the School goal, from there it was brought back again by a very fine run and drop of Pocock’s, and then a good drop goal into touch brought the ball into the strangers’ quarters; but no advantage was gained as the School was again driven back to the middle of the ground. After this the strangers played up and drove the School slowly down the ground, and finally they were compelled to touch the ball down in self defence; and again, immediately after the drop out, they were compelled to do so a second time. Soon after this, owing to some mistake or misunderstanding, the ball was thrown far out of touch, and Deacon getting the ball had a fair start and run in between the posts; the try by J.A.Bush was a failure, being well charged by Trevor.

For some while after changing ends the strangers kept the ball up near our goal, but by the good play of the forwards, and of Heath, half-back, the ball was slowly driven down the hill, and for the rest of the day the School had considerably the best of it, penning their adversaries and keeping their goal in continual danger. On one occasion Pocock very nearly finished a good run by landing the ball behind the line, but was unfortunately collared just too soon. The School however were prevented from gaining any decisive advantage until “no-side” was called. During this period Butterworth helped the strangers by two fine runs, while Strachan and Deacon were exceedingly useful throughout. E.J.Taylor played well back, and proved himself a most difficult man to pass. For the strangers the most conspicuous forward, and almost universal good play, were the two Pauls, the two Curtis, and Bush. For the school Miller played as well as usual whole-back , taking one or two enormous drops; Maw also played fairly whole-back, displaying great coolness; Pocock, Block, and Heath all played exceedingly well half-back; while among the forwards, Fowler, the two Trevors, and Burt were very conspicuous. The match was, as we have seen, drawn slightly in favour of the Club. Reviewing it as a whole our twenty, although not playing so brilliantly as against Oxford, played exceedingly well, and fortune certainly helped the Club to win their one advantage. For the rest we only wish that there had been a quarter of an hour’s longer play.

We add a list of the twenties. Clifton Club: A.H. Allen, A.J. Taylor (whole-back), F. Allen, E.J. Taylor (three-quarter-back), C. Strachan (captain), E.A. Deacon, A.K. Butterworth (half-back), W.M. Bird, J.G. Budd, J.A. Bush, J. Curtis, M.M. Curtis, J.H. Dunn, F. Morris, W.S. Paul, A.C.St. Paul, E. Phillips, W. Strachan, J.G. Thomson, W.R. Webb. The College: J.D. Miller, A.W. Leach, W. Maw (whole-back), E.I. Pocock, A. Block, A.H. Heath (half-back), G. Dakyns, W. Trevor, H. Fowler, C. Slater, A.S. Trevor, R.E. Bush, J. Haig, H.P. Burt, J. Sharp, H. Grylls, J. Hood, H. Marsh, H. Meuricoffee, (aeg., H.R. King, R. Turner, R. Baker, E.L. Maisey, J. Bryant.).

The Clifton College captain, George Doherty Dakyns, was the son of Thomas Henry Dakyns . The Clifton College players J.D. Miller, E.I. Pocock and R.E. Bush would become regular players for the club and are covered in the Famous Players chapter.

This match became an annual event, usually played at the beginning of the season.