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Richmond Rugby
Full nameRichmond Rugby Club
UnionSurrey RFU
Founded1861; 163 years ago (1861)
LocationRichmond, London, England
Ground(s)Athletic Ground, Richmond (Capacity: 4,500 (1,000 seated))
ChairmanJohn Heaton
PresidentJames Foster
Coach(es)Rob Powell
Captain(s)Alexander Post
League(s)National League 1
2023–246th
Team kit
Official website
richmondfc.co.uk

Richmond Rugby Club is a rugby union club in Richmond, London. It is a founding member of the Rugby Football Union, and is one of the oldest football clubs (of any code). It fields teams in both men's and women's rugby; the men's first team currently play in National League 1 following their relegation from the RFU Championship at the end of the 2022–23 season, while the women's first team play in the Women's Championship.

History

Formed in 1861, it is one of the oldest football clubs in the world and holds a significant place in the history of association football, playing in the first ever match under the rules of The Football Association on 19 December 1863, against the Barnes Club,[1] even though it was not a member of the Football Association. In 1878 it hosted the first ever floodlit match and in 1909 played in the inaugural match at Twickenham Stadium, the home of English rugby.

Richmond always traditionally played without a number 13 (similar to Bath) – the outside centre would wear 14, right wing 15 and fullback 16. However, during the professional era they adopted squad numbering; meaning rather than rugby's usual method of giving numbers 1–15 to the starting line-up, players were assigned a number for the season, as seen in football. Back in the amateur leagues, Richmond returned to their traditional numbering system before promotion to the National Leagues in 2008 saw them forced to adopt the uniform 1–15 numbering system according to RFU laws.

Professional era

In 1996, the then third division club was bought by financial markets trader and Monaco tax exile Ashley Levett. Levett turned the club into the first professional team in England, and began buying in big names to push the club up the leagues, including Ben Clarke from Bath, the first £1million signing. The club outgrew the Richmond Athletic Ground and became tenants at the Madejski Stadium in Reading. But the crowds and revenues from competition meant that Levett was continually financing the club, and so he placed it in administration in March 1999.

The professional Richmond club and professional London Scottish F.C. were both merged into London Irish, who moved to the Stoop Memorial Ground before taking up tenancy at Madejski the following year.[2] This period of hesitancy and uncertainty resulted in many of the professional players leaving the club pre-merger, and returning to their original home-teams. The amateur club was reformed in 2000, and the club rejoined the leagues as an amateur club at the bottom of the pyramid.

Post administration

After the professional era, hooker Andy Cuthbert remained at the club and captained the side for several years. Despite its lowly league position, Richmond has still managed to attract some top class players - former South Africa captain Bobby Skinstad joined for the 2005–06 season, Chilean fly-half Sebastian Berti joined in 2006 and England Students' wing Joe Ajuwa was a regular starter in the 1st XV. Under head coach Andy Maren the club climbed through the lower ranks of the England rugby divisions, from Herts & Middlesex 1 (ninth level) to London 1 (fifth level) in four years, amassing a perfect record of 83 straight wins in league play in the process. However, the club seemingly stalled at that level, continuing to put together winning seasons, but failing to gain promotion in 2005–06 and 2006–07.

In the 2007–08 season, Richmond laid out a serious plan for promotion - something they had failed to achieve in the past two seasons, one reason being they had not had any semi-professional players on their books. For the 2007–08 season, the club recruited a number of semi-professional players to boost Richmond's promotion chances. One of these players was USA international Jon Hartman. Richmond eventually achieved promotion, winning all but one of their League games. The coach, Brett Taylor, laid out plans for the club to be in National League 2 South in two seasons, and attempts were made to structure the colts teams into an effective feeder system for the 1st XV. However, during summer 2008, London Scottish were boosted financially and subsequently signed Taylor as their head coach. Richmond appointed Geoff Richards to take his place. Following two years in National League Two, Geoff Richards decided not to renew his contract citing differences in opinion between the board and himself on how the club should move forward. In 2009–10 Richmond appointed Oxford University Director of Rugby Steve Hill to take over after fourteen years in charge of the university side. Within two years (summer 2011) promotion was achieved and Richmond played in National League 1 until the end of the 2015–16 season when they achieved a further promotion into the Green King IPA Championship. Following three seasons in the Championship, Richmond were relegated at the end of the 2018–19 season and forced to return to National League 1. They hit back strongly in season 2019–20, winning 20 out of 25 matches in National League 1 to finish top of the league and earn promotion back to the Championship.

Current standings

2023–24 National League 1 table
Pos Team Pld W D L PF PA PD TB LB Pts Result
1 Chinnor (C) 26 22 0 4 1039 403 +636 21 3 112 Promoted
2 Rams 26 19 0 7 787 585 +202 20 3 99
3 Rosslyn Park 26 14 2 10 765 656 +109 17 5 82
4 Plymouth Albion 26 15 0 11 631 571 +60 13 4 77
5 Birmingham Moseley 26 14 1 11 649 667 −18 12 6 76
6 Richmond 26 11 1 14 689 681 +8 14 8 68
7 Darlington Mowden Park 26 12 0 14 635 682 −47 12 7 67
8 Blackheath 26 12 1 13 641 613 +28 10 4 64
9 Sedgley Park 26 11 1 14 657 784 −127 11 4 61
10 Sale FC 26 11 0 15 567 628 −61 8 4 56
11 Bishop's Stortford 26 10 0 16 592 746 −154 10 6 56
12 Leicester Lions 26 11 0 15 525 697 −172 7 3 54
13 Taunton Titans (R) 26 8 0 18 713 930 −217 17 4 53 Relegated
14 Cinderford (R) 26 9 0 17 528 775 −247 6 6 48
Updated to match(es) played on 12 May 2024. Source: "National League 1". RugbyEngland.
Source: "National League Rugby – Promotion and Relegation: 2023-24".
Rules for classification: If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Number of matches won
  2. Team with most draws
  3. Difference between points for and against
  4. Total number of points for
  5. Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
  6. Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled
    (C) Champion; (R) Relegated

Youth

Richmond's youth section is also highly successful - London Irish fullback Delon Armitage was a member of the mini section, and London Wasps' centre Dominic Waldouck earned an England callup for the 2008 tour of New Zealand, having progressed through the agegroups at Richmond. London Wasps No.8 Hugo Ellis, another product of Richmond's youth section, captained Wales U16s, as well as England at U19 and was the England U20 Captain in the 2008 Grand Slam winning side, also reaching the finals of the iRB Junior World Championship. Yet another former Richmond Youth, Joe Simpson, winning his first full England cap in 2011 Rugby World Cup, also of London Wasps, was scrum half for the U20s. Simpson was in the England Sevens squad for the first round of the 2007–08 IRB Sevens World Series; Sevens being an important stepping stone for the development of the best youth talent.

In the 2009–10 season a colts team was revived based on the highly rated U17 age group team of the previous season, and several U19 players returning to further bolster the squad. They entered the National Colts Cup and having defeated eight opponents most notably Blackheath, they beat former champions Old Northamptonians, 25–12 at Franklin's Gardens.

Home ground

Richmond play at the Athletic Ground, Richmond, which borders Royal Mid Surrey Golf Club, and is close to other sporting facilities such as Richmond Swimming Pool, Old Deer Park and also a gym. The complex includes two pitches (pitches 3 & 4) by the front gate, the 1st team pitch and perpendicular to that, pitch 2. The site also has a disused driving range behind the 1st team pitch which has three pitches on it, and a disused bowls club. One side of the pitch has a large concrete all-seater stand, under which are the changing rooms, a canteen, shop, physio room and two bars. Also on this southern side of the pitch is a disused cricket pavilion which also contains several more changing rooms and showers. During the early professional years, a temporary stand was erected along the north side of the pitch.

Later on in the professional era, Richmond 1st team moved to the Madejski Stadium, Reading, where they played until bankruptcy. The stadium would later become London Irish's home ground, and was an early example of London rugby clubs playing in football grounds – London Wasps played at Loftus Road before moving to Adams Park, and Saracens moved to Vicarage Road.

Rivalries

Richmond contested the first ever rugby match with Blackheath F.C., and the clubs have continued to play an annual fixture to uphold the tradition – now referred to as the longest-running annual fixture in rugby. As of 2013–14, the two clubs are in the same league, after many years apart, meaning that they play each other at least twice during the regular season, in addition to the traditional pre-season fixture.

Richmond shared the Athletic Ground with London Scottish, and this rivalry is very intense. Both sides experienced a high point at the beginning of the professional era and played in the Premiership. Both teams also fell into administration and dropped down to a level well below the national leagues, and though the routes taken have been slightly different, both clubs have battled their way up the leagues. As of 2019–20, London Scottish were also in the Championship. In years when the clubs are in the same division, the two "home" and "away" matches are two of the most well-attended and hotly contested of the year.

Richmond also have a local rivalry with Barnes who they have recently frequently played as both sides sought to move into the national leagues.

At youth level, Richmond's strongest rivalry tends to be with nearby Rosslyn Park. A Richmond vs Rosslyn Park game is always surrounded by controversy of some sort, which is the same for just about any team that plays against Rosslyn Park.

Honours

Current squad

For player movements before or during the 2021–22 season, see List of 2021–22 RFU Championship transfers § Richmond.

The Richmond squad for the 2022–23 season are:[8]

Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-World Rugby nationality.

Player Position Union
Alex Post Hooker Hong Kong Hong Kong
Callum Torpey Hooker Ireland Ireland
Arun Watkins Hooker England England
Vaughan Bentley Prop South Africa South Africa
George Cave Prop England England
Ben Christie Prop England England
Jonny Harris Prop England England
Jimmy Litchfield Prop England England
Conor Maguire Prop Ireland Ireland
Ntinga Mpiko Prop South Africa South Africa
Luke Spring Prop England England
Timmy Walford Prop England England
Will Carrick-Smith Lock England England
Sam Collingridge Lock England England
Cameron Gray Lock England England
Byron Hodge Lock Australia Australia
George Nugent Lock England England
Ayanfe Oladukun Lock England England
Henri Williams Lock England England
Ethan Benson Back row England England
Mark Bright Back row England England
Graham Geldenhuys Back row South Africa South Africa
Bailey Marshall-Telfer Back row Wales Wales
David Massey Back row England England
Toby Saysell Back row England England
Oscar White Back row England England
Miles Wakeling Back row England England
Player Position Union
Aaron Bagwell Scrum-half England England
Alex Crocker Scrum-half England England
Toby Dabell Scrum-half England England
James Lennon Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Callum Watson Scrum-half England England
Stephen Kerins Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Alex Burrage Fly-half England England
Bill Johnston Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Ted Landray Fly-half England England
Paddy Case Centre England England
Craig Duncan Centre England England
Harry Hunter Centre England England
Zuriel Makele Centre England England
Raz Patel Centre England England
Jake Caddy Wing England England
Tom Caesar Wing Ireland Ireland
Hamish Graham Wing Ireland Ireland
Rhys Lewis Wing Wales Wales
Alex O'Meara Wing Ireland Ireland
Owain James Fullback England England
Will Kaye Fullback England England
Tom Mills Fullback England England

Notable former players

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See also Category:Richmond F.C. players

List of seasons (since the beginning of professional era)

Season Division Level League record Promotion play-off
P W D L F A BP Pts Pos
1987-88 National Division 2 2 11 6 0 5 140 156 - 29 6th
1988-89 National Division 2 2 11 4 1 6 112 216 - 9 9th
1989-90 National Division 2 2 11 7 1 3 282 135 - 15 3rd
1990-91 National Division 2 2 12 3 1 8 134 245 - 7 12th
1991-92 National Division 3 3 12 10 1 1 296 124 - 21 1st
1992-93 National Division 2 2 13 5 0 8 202 196 - 10 10th
1993-94 National Division 3 3 18 9 0 9 337 300 - 18 7th
1994-95 National Division 3 3 18 6 1 11 319 290 - 13 8th
1995-96 National Division 3 3 18 13 1 4 476 266 - 27 2nd
1996-97 National Division 2 2 22 19 2 1 986 410 - 40 1st
1997-98 English Premiership 1 22 12 0 10 607 499 - 24 5th
1998-99 English Premiership 1 26 11 2 13 720 715 - 24 9th Entered administration[9]
1999-2000 Did not compete - reformed as an amateur side at Level 9 [10][11]
2000-01 Herts/Middlesex 1 9 18 17 0 1 816 72 - 34 1st
2001-02 London 4 South West 8 22 22 0 0 1,142 115 - 44 1st
2002-03 London 3 South West 7 18 18 0 0 885 113 - 36 1st
2003-04 London 2 South 6 22 22 0 0 991 155 - 44 1st
2004-05 London 1 5 22 16 0 6 616 291 - 32 3rd
2005-06 London 1 5 22 19 0 3 850 337 - 38 2nd
2006-07 London 1 5 22 14 0 8 756 418 - 28 4th
2007-08 London 1 5 22 21 0 1 870 180 - 42 1st
2008-09 National Division 3 South 4 26 15 2 9 566 510 10 74 4th
2009-10 National League 2 South 4 28 11 0 17 706 761 18 62 8th
2010-11 National League 2 South 4 30 24 0 6 1,125 526 21 117 3rd
2011-12 National League 2 South 4 30 23 2 5 927 488 22 118 2nd Richmond 20-13 Caldy (a.e.t.)
2012-13 National League 1 3 30 13 4 13 730 732 16 76 8th
2013-14 National League 1 3 30 14 1 15 761 699 22 80 7th
2014-15 National League 1 3 30 14 2 14 837 866 20 80 7th
2015-16 National League 1 3 30 23 2 5 854 534 19 116 1st
2016-17 RFU Championship 2 20 5 0 15 347 585 6 26 10th
2017-18 RFU Championship 2 22 9 0 13 444 597 10 46 9th
2018-19 RFU Championship 2 22 6 0 16 430 604 9 33 12th
2019-20 National League 1 3 25 20 0 5 741 347 19 97 1st Season curtailed due to COVID-19 pandemic
2020-21 RFU Championship 2 10 1 0 9 138 366 0 4 11th Truncated season due to COVID-19 pandemic
2021-22 RFU Championship 2 20 7 1 12 440 546 12 42 9th
2022-23 RFU Championship 2 22 3 1 18 413 762 9 21 12th
Total 737 442 25 270 20,996 14,156 213 1,527

See also

References

  1. ^ "The History of The FA". The Football Association. Retrieved 6 June 2014.
  2. ^ Sugar daddies Four for whom the game turned sour The Independent - 23 January 2005
  3. ^ "UNDER 14 COMPETITIONS". www.hampshirerugby.co.uk.
  4. ^ "Hampshire Rugby". www.hampshirerugby.co.uk.
  5. ^ "London 2 South 03/04". Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  6. ^ "London 1 07/08". Archived from the original on 21 May 2014. Retrieved 21 May 2014.
  7. ^ "Our History". Archived from the original on 22 October 2013.
  8. ^ "Richmond Men 1st XV squad". Richmond FC. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  9. ^ "THE RICHMOND STORY". www.richmondfc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2023.
  10. ^ "THE RICHMOND STORY". www.richmondfc.co.uk. Retrieved 13 May 2023.
  11. ^ "RFU". www.englandrugby.com. Retrieved 13 May 2023.