History
       
   

                                              

 

 

History

Founded 1872

In our long and illustrious history we can uniquely boast of having supplied Captains of both England and Wales, in the shape of the Hancock brothers! But that was a long time ago.

Wiveliscombe Rugby Club was founded in August 1872 after an inaugural meeting at the Lion Hotel attended by Frederick Rooke. At this meeting Frederick Rooke was elected the first Captain of Wiveliscombe Rugby Club. He was a Yorkshire man who came to Wiveliscombe as an engineer involved in the construction of the new Taunton to Barnstaple railway.

Wiveliscombe was famous for its brewery built in 1807 by William Hancock. The Hancock family exercised a huge influence on the town for many decades. The men of the family were fanatical in their enthusiasm for rugby. The family were determined to ensure the club was successful and brought into the town many well-known people solely on the strength of their ability to play rugby. Five of the ten Hancock sons played rugby for Somerset. One, Frank Ernest, captained Wales and another Phillip Froude played for England. Philip Froude Hancock, universally known as Froude, was never at any public school and learnt his rugby playing for Wiveliscombe, which through the exertions of the Hancock brothers was for many years about the strongest in Somerset. In his youth he played rugby (prop) for Blackheath and England and is still on record as the second heaviest man to play for England. He was a founder member of the Barbarians 

The rugby club is second only to Bath as the oldest in Somerset. The first match was played on 26th November 1872 when, on what was reported a very wet and muddy pitch, Wiveliscombe defeated Independent College (Now Taunton School) by ten touchdowns to one. Originally Wiveliscombe club colours were blue and white but these were changed to the well known red and blue in 1880. In the 1880's and 90's the team were almost unbeatable and it is said they were reluctant to play the Bristol team as they were not considered strong enough.

For a brief period in the 1890's the club moved to Langley Marsh for a while and were known as Langley and Wiveliscombe until the AGM on the 6th August 1898 when it was agreed to change the name back to Wiveliscombe.

The club did not function during the 1914-18 war as many men went off to fight for their country. Rebuilding and re-activating the club after the hostilities did not prove easy but by the 1920-21 season things were back in full flow. Between the wars, Wiveliscombe once again became a rugby force in Devon and Somerset. The club was once again suspended during the war years 1939-45 but restarted for the 1945-46 season.

Before the building of changing facilities at the Recreation Ground, teams changed at the White Hart Hotel from where they had to run to the pitch for the game and back. An incentive on the way back after the game were cast iron baths filled with hot water brought by horse and cart from the Hancock brewery.

The present clubhouse was first opened in October 1967 and was extended ten years later to include a kitchen, bar, and new toilets.

On the 15th April 1981 the club acquired 3 acres at Plain Pond to accommodate the increasing amount of fixture and training. After much work by members to clear this field a pitch was then put on this land and was opened on the 20th November 1983. Until 1991 when the Derek Hood Memorial changing rooms were built players had to change at the Recreation Ground and transport themselves to the pitch at Plain Pond.

The club currently fields three senior teams, a colt’s side, many junior teams and ladies XV.

A highlight of the season is always the Boxing Day local derby against Wellington which despite the weather is always well supported and brings a large crowd out to watch.

Rugby continues to prosper in Wiveliscombe and welcomes new players, members and their families who want a great afternoon’s entertainment.

 


� 2007 Wiveliscombe Rugby Club