Old Reigatians Rugby Football Club
Old Reigatian RFC Full name Old Reigatian Rugby Football Club Nickname(s) Reigatians, The Old Boys Founded 1927 Location Reigate Ground(s) Geoffrey Knight Fields, Park Lane (Capacity: 2,500) President Peter Harrison MBE Coach(es) Phil Williams Captain(s) Mark Chesterton League(s) London 2 South West Official website www.reigatiansrufc.com
Founded in the 1927/28 Season by the Old Boys of Reigate Grammar School Old Reigatians R.F.C. has seen many ups and downs over its 80 years. Located in the heart of Reigate it now runs three Senior sides, a Veterans side and proudly has the largest mini and junior sections in Surrey. The 1st XV is captained by Mark Chesterton who currently play in London 2 South West. Today the club is an open club with players coming from far and wide and is one that welcomes new members at all levels from 1st XV through to its burgeoning minis and juniors section.
Founded in the 1927/28 Season by the Old Boys of Reigate Grammar School who had recently been introduced to the "Game for hooligans - played by gentlemen" when their School, along with Guildford RGS and Caterham G.S., as well as many others, replaced soccer in favour of rugby in the School's curriculum. This was an ingenious attempt to meet the requirements of an Education request from the Government of the time for an increase in the number of boys taking part in team sports. At one stroke the playing field which had provided only 22 players with an introduction to the "beautiful game" were utilised to give 30 boys the opportunity to legally fight with each other. The "Think Tanks" of the 1920s had come up with another winner! In addition an alternative to "going down the mines" was available to young Welshmen, who now took to the role of schoolteachers and sought to introduce running and handling skills to the foreigners on the other side of the Wye and Severn.
The Club initially used a field adjoining the then School playing field in St Albans Road and now occupied by the houses composing Pilgrims Place off Brokes Road. The changing accommodation was in the Reigate Baths in Castlefield Road. A year later a ground was secured at the top of Shepherds Hill in Merstham and the Feathers Hotel and then the Jolliffe Arms provided the pre-match changing facilities and the post match entertainment! I also understand that on occasions we used the Reigate RFC ground (then somewhere off The Clears) in the lee of Colley Hill. These rather primitive arrangements continued until the 1939 - 1945 war brought a temporary end to the club's progress. At the end of the war, the club was immediately reformed by a nucleus of pre-war players amongst whom Norman Holt and Geoffrey Knight were pre-eminent. They became Hon. Sec. and Hon. Chairman respectively and with great support from the then Headmaster of the School (Mr A.E.Clarke) embarked on the search for a permanent home. At first we used the School ground at St Albans Road and then the newly acquired School playing fields to the rear of Wallfield House in West Street. The changing accommodation was once again the Reigate Baths with after match teas provided by wives and girl friends in one of the Wartime Nissan Huts (still standing) to the rear of the Town Hall, in Castlefield Road The White Hart in Church Street provided the after match entertainment thanks to the co-operation of the then Landlord who had played his rugby for Old Cranleighans and allowed us to use his Lounge Bar as a club room. The search for a permanent home was finally successful, when through the generosity of Mr & Mrs (later Lord & Lady) Rank we were able to purchase the small plot off Park Lane on which we built our first and to date, our only real home.
The writer remembers with relish the "away" games against Worthing, Brighton, Lewes, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Maidstone, Horsham, Dorking and Guildford. It was invariably well past 10.00pm before the last car load arrived back at the White Hart. The "Old Boy" circuit was far more difficult to penetrate and a 1949 fixture card reveals that only Reedonians, Mid-Whitgiftians, Dartfordians, Croydonians and Shootershillians thought us to be worthy opponents. In that year our record was P 26, W 17, D 3, L 6, with victories over both the Blackheath and the Harlequin 2nd teams. By the middle 70's we were running seven teams and in the 1986/87 season, after beating Exeter and Saracens in earlier rounds we became the only junior Club to ever reach the last 16 of the premier RFU Cup competition (then known as The John Player Cup now EDF Energy Cup). Players and spectators alike will long remember our game against the famous Gloucester Club at their equally famous Kingsholm ground. I think that bookmakers would offer very generous odds against any junior club repeating this feat. By this time our fixture card provided us with 30 really good quality games over a full season.
In the following season, the Rugby Football Union gave us the opportunity of either accepting their new directives as to the new League Rugby system or withdrawing from any form of competitive rugby altogether. We chose (not without some misgivings) to join the new League system and during the next 13 seasons Reigatians played for 8 years in London 2 and for 5 years in London 3. A reformed League structure in the first season of the new Millennium, caught us in a downward spiral and with the "Home & Away" concept now accepted by a majority, a new League was created (London 4) as a result of the reshuffle. Old Reigatians were placed into the senior County side (Surrey 1). It took us 4 years to break out of this very competitive County League, but only one to leave London 4, and then another year to join London 3.
We have ended our first year in London 3 on a high, finishing in third place. It is a well balanced League, with only bottom placed Weybridge Vandals narrowly failing to win less than half their games. Playing to well below our best form we lost the return games against both Effingham & Leatherhead and Chobham, which left us with London Irish Amateurs to beat for the opportunity to face Purley John Fisher for the vacancy in London 2. The Irish were well-deserved winners of this final match. Happily Guernsey beat Camberley, in their final game, to stay out of the relegation zone. So we all get another trip to this lovely Channel Island.
At this stage in the development of our Club we are proud to have at last produced teams at every age group from Under 5/6 to Under 18 in the Junior and Mini section. To this we can add an under 19 & under 21 team as well as a 3rd team to support our present two senior sides, We have also anticipated the additional facilities a new pavilion by enrolling a number of young girls into our first Girls XV at the Under 10 level. The Club will thus have 19 teams playing in the Green & Blue colours at the commencement of our seventy-ninth year.
Summer Touch Rugby
Let Old Reigatians RFC introduce you to this fun and light hearted version of rugby. Can you dazzle with a dummy? Can you smoke the oppo with a side-step? OPEN TO ALL SENIOR PLAYERS (new and old); U15; U16s; U17s and U18s. THE MORE THE MERRIER! NEW PLAYERS WELCOME. Starts on 7 May and runs every Thursday through into August. Fancy it? Well come on down… Old Reigatians RFC, Park Lane, Reigate. 1930 hrs till 2100 hrs. You don’t have to be the next Jonny Wilkinson or Brian O’Driscoll; just come down, chuck a ball around and keep fit. Watch this space for announcements on Thursday evening BBQ’s and Bar opening times.
Old Reigatians currently fields 4 Senior sides playing in leagues run by the Rugby Football Union.
1st XV play in London 2 South West. 2nd XV play in Rugby Tech Division 3 South League . 3rd XV play in Surrey Combination 2. 4th XV/Vets play in Surrey Vets Division 2
During the playing season all Senior training takes place on Wednesday night at 19:15 with specialist sessions on a Tuesday evening at 19:15 and matches are played on a Saturday afternoon.
Minis and Juniors
The mini-section of Old Reigatian R.F.C. has become a model for other clubs throughout the country as the first club to appoint a Director of Rugby, who has the sole responsibility of structuring all aspects of the coaching framework. This is a paid post and consequently puts stress upon the finances of the section. However, as a forward thinking club it has been decided that the primary concern should be the correct delivery of the coaching syllabus.
The Director of Rugby works closely with all coaches providing technical guidance where required. It is very much a partnership as the squads are staffed by R.F.U. Qualified coaches who have an in depth knowledge of the game. This new position has served to develop continuity in the coaching which is quite clearly reflected in the performances of all age groups since the 1998/9 season.
All coaches meet regularly for midweek development sessions. These sessions are designed to create awareness of new coaching procedures that may be considered appropriate. They generate a uniformity within the coaching staff that is essential for the creation of an effective and professional delivery.
The sessions are not restricted to coaching aspects alone and encompass a variety of teaching techniques that aid the coaches in the way they approach the sessions. As coaches we are also educators and it is important to have awareness of skills required when dealing with children.
The Old Reigatians have a successful junior and mini section, being a result of the large amount of members. For example, the U16 side of season 2008/2009 achieved their second promotion in as many seasons. They will now ply their trade in the U17 Surrey League 2, and are sure to provide stiff competition for other clubs, especially local rivals Dorking RFC, after they were relegated from Surrey 1.
2011/2012 Season 1st XV
Notable Former Players
- Neil Mantell - England (Australia v England at Sydney, May 24, 1975)
- Steve Pilgrim - England A, Wasps and Harlequins
- Jonny Hylton - England U21s, England 7s, Wasps, Worcester, Esher
- Paul Hallet - Wales A
- Reigate Grammar School link.
- Old Reigatians R.F.C link
- 1st XV League Fixtures and Results Link.
- 2nd XV League Fixtures and Results link.
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