Clifton Rugby Football Club History
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Oldest Clubs

According to the 1922 book "Fifty Years with the Clifton Rugby Football Club" the club requested the Athletic News to publish a list of the oldest clubs in the British Isles, excluding Public Schools as they cannot be considered clubs. It claims that Clifton is the 12th oldest club in the British Isles.

Guy's Hospital 1843
Dublin University 1856
Edinburgh Academicals 1858
Blackheath 1860
Sale 1861
Richmond 1861
Harlequins 1866
Wasps 1866
Liverpool 1867
Manchester 1867
Brighton 1869
Clifton 1872

There are seveal major ommissions from this list. I have excluded Publics Schools, clubs that no longer exist, and clubs that now play rugby league. I have allowed mergers and my list with the correct verified dates is

Guy's Hospital 1843
Dublin University 1854
Liverpool 1857
Edinburgh Academicals 1857
Blackheath 1858
Civil Service 1863
Manchester 1860
Sale 1861
Richmond 1861
Bath 1865
West of Scotland 1865
Harlequins 1866
Glasgow Academicals 1866
Wasps 1867
Twickenham 1867
North 1868
Brighton 1868
Kilmarnock 1868
Edinburgh Wanderers 1868
Kings College Hospital 1869
Queens University 1869
Oxford University 1869
Preston Grasshoppers 1869
Ipswich 1870
Dublin Wanderers 1870
Burton 1870
Ealing 1871
Streatham 1871
Neath 1871
Old Paulines 1871
Langholm 1871
Clifton 1872


The foundation of Guy's Hospital Rugby Club in 1843 is accepted by both the Rugby Football Union and the Guinness Book of Records, making Guy's the oldest rugby club in the world. While no contemporary documentation has survived, abundant circumstantial evidence, including a fixture card from 1883/4 referring to Guy's 40th season and the submission of distinguished officials in 1863 and 1864, confirms the date. No existing club has advanced an earlier claim. See

Dublin University also known as either Trinity College or Trinity. See Formed in 1854 and not 1856.

Liverpool were formed in 1857 but merged with St. Helens Rugby Club (founded 1919) in 1986 to form Liverpool St.Helens. See

For Edinburgh Academicals see or They were formed in 1857 not 1858

For Blackheath see

Civil Service. Founder member of the RFU. Compete in Middx/Herts Div 1. Some lists say they were formed in 1870 which is incorrect it is 1863. See

Manchester were formed in 1860 and not 1867. See

For Sale see

For Richmond see I have included them even though they went bankrupt in 1999. New and old Richmond supporters, has been successful in re-establishing the club as a vibrant amateur club culminating in the ending of the administration period in May 2002. Richmond Vikings have been successful in buying the vast majority of shares in the Richmond Athletic Association, which holds the lease of the Athletic Ground comprising 7 pitches in 26 acres. This has enabled Richmond to keep the tradition alive on the grounds where the club has played rugby since 1889. They are currently playing in London 1 (2004/05) in the same league as London Scottish.

Bath were formed in 1865 as Bath Zouaves. In fact their badge has the date 1865 on it. See

Wimbledon Hornets were formed in 1865 and appear on some lists but the club is now defunct.

West of Scotland are Glasgow's oldest Football Club, a founder member of the SRU West and also played a leading role in establishing International Rugby by being a prime mover in organising the first rugby International (Scotland vs England) in 1871 and hosting it at it's ground, Hamilton Crescent, in 1873. They are still going strong today. See

For Harlequins see

Glasgow Hawks were only formed in 1997 the founder clubs Glasgow Accies 1866 and GHK 1982 (Glasgow High School F.P 1884 .,and Kelvinside Accies 1888) played a major role in the history and development of the Sport of Rugby Union in Scotland dating back to its inception in the 1860s. I have included Glasgow Academicals but not Glasgow Hawks in the above list. See

For Wasps see

Twickenham are still going and play at Parkfields, South Road, Hampton, Middlesex. See

North aka North of Ireland Football Club ( NIFC). Immediately after the 1st World War merged with the Cricket Club (they had been rented ground at Ormeau, Belfast to play Football since 1868) to form the North of Ireland Cricket and Football Club. The cricket ground has been use by Ireland for first-class cricket matches from 1926-1999, once in 1965 for a cricket match between Ireland and New Zealand. The cricket club web site is at

Brighton were formed in 1868 not 1869. They are still going and play in London Division Three South-East (level 7). See

Kilmarnock RFC see

Edinburgh Wanderers FC (1868) and Murrayfield RFC (1971) merged to become Murrayfield Wanderers FC in 1997 see

Kings College Hospital see

For Queens University see

For Oxford University see

Preston Grasshoppers were formed on the 28th September 1869 at a meeting was held at the Bull Hotel, Preston and are sometimes missed off lists. See

Ipswich are still going and playing in London League 3 North East. See

Dublin Wanderers. See

Burton Football Club was formed on 5th October 1870 and played both Rugby and Association football until 1876, when it adopted Rugby Union rules only. It first played on the cricket ground on Burton meadow, but moved to Peel Croft at Bond End in 1888. Forced to vacate that site in 1890, the club used various grounds until it returned to Peel Croft in 1910. The present clubhouse there was completed in 1956 and was later extended. From: British History Online Source: Burton-upon-Trent: Social and cultural activities. A History of the County of Staffordshire: Volume IX, Nigel J. Tringham (Editor) (2003). URL: Date: 30/05/2004 Copyright 2003 University of London & History of Parliament Trust. See

Ealing. In National League 2 South, as Clifton (2011). See

Streatham. Still going and now playing in Surrey 3 division. In 1964 the club changed its name to Streatham-Croydon. Prop Jeff Probyn played for Streatham - Croydon for nearly four seasons at the end of the 1970's before representing England for the first time six years later at the age of 31 while a member of Wasps. A distinguised captain of the club was Dudley Wood (1957-58), (1964-65), an Oxford blue 3 times over, who later became secretary of the RFU for many years. See for a history.

Neath see

Old Paulines see

Langholm. The oldest club in the Borders. See

I have not included Worcester as they were disbanded between 1871 and 1896. They were founded by the Reverend Francis John Ede with the first recorded game being played against the Artillery on November 8th 1871. During the period from 1871 to 1896, when the club was temporarily disbanded, there were at least three ground changes finishing with a move to the Pitchcroft site at Worcester Racecourse in 1894. See

Swansea were formed in 1872 but was initially formed under association football rules and converted to rugby following a decision on 17 October 1874. It is believed the first rugby game played by Swansea was against Llandovery College on 28 November 1874. I have not included them.

On some records it says that Leicester were also formed in 1872. The club has it down as 1880.

So we are the 31st oldest club in the British Isles and that excludes Cambridge University, Landsdowne, Penryn, University College Cork and Exeter who were all formed in 1872 as well. Llanelli were also formed in 1872 but ther first recorded game was in 1876.


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