Old Rishworthian RUFC Club History
1930-1950 The early years
The earliest recorded meeting of The Old Rishworthian RUFC (the Club) was at the Old Cock Hotel Halifax on Friday June 27th 1930. This followed an inaugural meeting on January 12th 1930 at the Battinson Road Palais de Danse where a committee was appointed to find a suitable ground for the Old Boys of Rishworth School to play upon. After a far and wide search from Northowram to Warley suitable fields and changing facilities were located at Southowram. Changing at the Cock and Bottle Hotel, near the tram terminus the ground was off Pinnar Lane amid the quarries and was reached after a walk along the road across four fields.
The first President of the Club was C L Johnson, E Hirst Captain and Secretary, H Scholefield Vice Captain (later replaced by G R Williams,) J T Bottomley - Treasurer with TV Watkin, EC Nethergate and J R Rollinson as committee members
A full fixture list had been compiled for one team and the Club's first fixture was played against Heath A team on September 13th 1930 whom we beat 3-0 in a scrappy game. The season was moderately successful with the Club winning 14 of the 24 games played and scoring 240 points against 168. The A team was formed in 1931-32.
Season 1933-34 saw a change of dressing accommodation for the Club, moving from the Cock and Bottle to The Manor House Hotel. Whilst this was further from the ground, it provided more space. Training was one aspect of the club's life in which most members showed little interest. The few who did train must have been keen, as there were no facilities at Southowram. Running round the lanes seemed to be the only way players kept fit followed by snooker, beef sandwiches and pickles at the Old Cock Hotel in Halifax.
The Club suspended activities between 1941 and 1946 owing to the outbreak of war. An extra ordinary meeting was held at the Old Cock Hotel on June 19th 1946 to discuss the re-formation of the Old Rishworthian RUFC. It was unanimously resolved that the club be reformed with Mr G C Hoyle becoming President. Harry Ludlam who had been a regular playing member became captain. The club played at Ovenden Park for one season paying £15 for the use of the ground and changing accommodation.
At the 13th AGM it was agreed that players needed to be encouraged to join the Club and it was agreed that non Old Rishworthians be invited to play for the A team. However they would not be able to play for the 1xtXV whatever standard they might attain.
The club's search for a better ground had continued after the war years. Harry Ludlam was instrumental in arranging for the use of a field at the Duke of Wellington's Barracks, Highroad Well. A donation of 10 guineas was given to the Regimental Memorial Fund for the use of the pitches and bath. Meetings were then held at the Beehive and Cross Keys Hotel.
The Club had a busy social committee and dances were held at the White Swan Hotel Halifax. Motor rallies, pie and pea suppers and an Annual Ball which regularly attracted over 350 people - formed the main source of income for the Club. Major contributions also came from The Old Rishworthian Club and the hard working Ladies Section.
1950-1963 The link between club and school
The relationship between The Club and Rishworth School reached a low point in 1951. A number of school leavers had not joined the Club and whilst an attempt was made to change the rules a proposition by D Sandie whereby ?any suggestion of allowing players who are not Old Rishworthians to participate in 1st XV games be definitely ruled out of order?. was carried.
Harry Ludlam met with the headmaster of Rishworth School and at the end of Summer Term there would be a Leavers Supper and members of the Club Committee would be present. Matters were discussed at the Club?s AGM in June 1951 where it was agreed that If the time arises after the utmost efforts have been made, it is found to be impossible to select an all Old Rishworthian team, then an Extra Ordinary General Meeting be called immediately and that the officials of the Parent Club be requested to attend and step?s taken to put an end to the Football Club?s activities?
The playing strength of the Club became a major problem and at a committee meeting on November 6th 1951 Harry Ludlam proposed that in view of the present emergency, the Selection Committee be empowered to select non Old Rishworthians for the 1stXV for a period of three weeks only An amendment was proposed by Mr Sandie, seconded by Mr Rowe that the selection of the 1stXV be confined to Old Rishworthians. This amendment was defeated by seven votes to six. The original proposal was then put to the meeting and it was carried by seven votes to three.
In May 1954 it was resolved that the Club approach the Old Rishworthian Club to sanction suspension of Rule 3 which states that Only Rishworthians are eligible for membership?. The AGM of 1954 considered a proposal by Mr E Rowe seconded by Mr J W Robinson, that Rule 3 should be suspended for a period of two years but that no non Rishworthian should hold office The motion was carried unanimously.
One interesting item from a committee meeting held on June 8th 1954 was it was agreed that the Headmaster should be informed that the Club now required the use of the rugby posts which have been on loan to the school since the beginning of the War.
A ground committee was again set up to review alternative playing areas with a view to permanency. Land at West Vale, which was owned by The Cleansing and Sewage Committee of Halifax Corporation, had been identified. The Club made an application to purchase the land in October 1951. However the cost of levelling the field was felt to be excessive and the application was withdrawn. A field was located at New Lane, Halifax and changing facilities were made available at the Standard of Freedom, Skircoat Green. This became the Club?s latest home and negotiations were carried out to purchase the land.
In August 1954 the Club decided to play Old Crossleyans at the end of each season for the Peter Lighting Trophy. In October 1955 the Club successfully applied to join the Rugby Football Union.
The AGM in June 1957 noted ?that it should be placed on record that a unique record had been set up in as much as Mr H Ludlam and Son both played for the A XV together during the past season?
A change in the rules was implemented in May 1963, when the Old Rishworthian Club allowed the Club to have non Rishworthian members as officers of the Club, except for the offices of President, Secretary and Treasurer. The matter would be reviewed after five years. This was a breakthrough for the rank and file and more people were expected to join and support the Club in the future.
The move to Copley
The search for suitable playing fields continued and in August 1963 the committee visited a piece of land at Copley. Once again Harry Ludlam was the man charged with negotiating the purchase of the site. On March 24th 1964 the land was available at ?800 and it was proposed by G Bradley and seconded by R Lees that the committee go ahead and purchase the land.
A pavilion, approximately 2,000 square feet in size was planned for the site and the cost of levelling the land, erecting the pavilion and associated works was estimated to be £4,000 - £4,500. This figure increased to £5,950 and the Club, guided by Harry Ludlam sought loans from The RFU, Local Authority, Central Council of Physical Education and The Ministry of Education. The ground committee decided that costs could be reduced and after much negotiating, the revised figure was £4,880. The overall costs of the field and pavilion had now reached ?6,300. Finally the RFU provided a loan of £2,000 at 2% interest payable over 15 years and the Ministry of Education and Science offered a grant of £2,440. Harry Ludlam had achieved a major coup. The club now owned it?s own playing field and work could start on the pavilion.
Contracts were exchanged and the most exciting period of the Club?s short history had been reached. Work started on the building of the new clubhouse in August 1965. Neville Maw, who was President in the year of the clubhouse opening, remember`s the hard work with Roger Pickles, Granville Hanson and Dennis Noble. They spent hours digging trenches, laying drains and digging out the foundations. On May 20th 1966 the clubhouse was completed. Floodlights were installed and a grass-cutting rota was organised for the summer months.
It is quite interesting that the land at Copley formed part of the Greetland Estate, acquired by John Wheelwright, the founder of Rishworth School, a few years before his death in 1724.
The 1970's - exciting rugby
The years up to 1980 were exciting from a rugby point of view. The number of teams fielded each week increased to four and in 1975/76 the 1st team achieved moderate success in reaching the final of the Yorkshire Silver trophy. A strong Leeds Polytechnic XV defeating them at Huddersfield Waterloo by 36 points to ?3.
Touring sides have always been welcome at the home of the Old Rishworthians. In March 1973 the Copley side defeated a Mumbles XV by 16 points to 12. The Welshmen fielded a number of players with first team experience at Swansea, Neath and Aberavon and a huge crowd cheered the home side on to a famous victory.
Four teams now turned out each Saturday, and whilst the standard of rugby was improving, the structured coaching of players became a necessity. Guest coaches put the players through their paces on Tuesday evenings and these included Alan Kellett, Halifax and Bradford Northern and Steve Diamond formerly of Sale Sharks and now chief coach at Saracens.
The fixture list during the 1970`s included Wheatley Hills, Dinnington, Yorkshire Copper Works, Wetherby, Bradford Salem, Ashton Under Lyne, York RI, Halifax Vandals, Heath Old Boys, Halifax Dukes, Moortown, Phoenix Park, Northallerton, Barnsley and Beverley
1980 onwards; Financial problems and recovery
The Club continued to develop in much the same way as the previous years. Copley Senior Citizens started to use the pavilion on a regular basis and the villagers of Copley were encouraged to become members.
The popularity of the Club waned in the early 1980`s and owing to unplanned expenditure on the pavilion it was evident that the financial state now was not healthy. A loss of £808 in May 1980 was followed in May 1982 by five successive lean years. At the AGM in May 1984 the Treasurer reported that an overdraft of £1,000 would be required to keep the Club going. A loan from Tetley`s Brewery was obtained and this funded the rebuilding of the clubhouse frontage and enabled the redecoration of the interior to take place. The loan payments were £100 per month and the brewery saved the Club from extinction. A 200 Club was formed which also generated much need income.
Two names then made an immediate impression - Fred Dawson and Paul Danielson. These two employees of the Halifax Building Society had played for the club in the 1970`s Fred being captain for five seasons between 1975 to 1981 and Paul a 1st team prop forward of the same era. Fred was elected President in June 1986 and Paul became Treasurer. They worked closely with the Secretary Dave Butler, who had been appointed in 1983, to cut costs, purchase goods in bulk and to generate income in the one area which the committee had complete control, the bar. More functions were held and profits rose as a result. Many functions are held in the club house, and the bar area has recently been refurbished, using the funds from the 200 Club.
Over the next 15 years the Club only posted losses in 1989 and 1998. The loss in 1989 was attributed to costs incurred on the pavilion roof but those in 1998 were more unfortunate.
The Club had been sued by an ex-member of the committee and was defending a case of litigation for approximately £5,600. The Club lost the case at Halifax County Court in December 1996 and paid out £27,253 to the courts. Only prudent book keeping and hard work by the committee and especially Andy Finneran, who re introduced the 200 Club, prevented the Club from becoming financially embarrassed. This incident taught the committee a salient lesson. Off the record discussions with Members regarding work at Copley should always be minuted. Paul resigned as Treasurer in 2002 and was replaced by Kevin Flanagan and Dave Butler retired on ill health grounds in 2001 as the longest serving secretary of the Club with Peter Morgan taking over as secretary. Fred is still President today after 20 seasons in the role.
Fred Dawson concentrated on improving the quality of beer and bringing the pitches at Copley up to standard. He has devoted hours on his lawn mower cutting the fields and looking after them. The position of the Club is well documented, but the condition of the 1st team pitch is marvellous. Opponents are very impressed when looking at the grounds for the first time.
A personal view by Roy Greenwood (president 1983 - 86)
Much has happened to the club on and off the field in the 25 years since it celebrated its golden jubilee. The highlight on the field must go to the Yorkshire Silver Trophy success in 1990-91, when Martin Lee lifted the famous old trophy at Pontefract after a thrilling win over Burley. Additionally the club won the former Yorkshire Division Four title in 1998-99 the only honours it has achieved in its 75-year history.
Of course the league system was formed in the 1980s, with Rishworthians constantly shuffling between leagues three and five in the years to follow. But that great day out at Pontefract will live long in the memory of many people. Two great tries, a thrilling game and the first trophy of any sort to be won by a team from Halifax in many years.
During the opening season of the 21st century, we also achieved our record score with a win of 104 points to 7 over Thornensians at Thorne. That season saw the club score more points than ever before, breaking the 1,000 barrier with a total of 1,004 with only 278 against. The team won 23 games out 29, compared to the promotion total two years before when they won 23 out of 27.
Other notable seasons were 1996-97 when 20 games were won and the Silver Trophy year when 22 winning games was the total. The most number of winning games still remains with the 1972-73 team who recorded 26 wins out of 35 games. As far as statistics go the most ridiculous one belongs to the 2001-02 season when the club was denied promotion by a hundredth of a point due to the calculations worked out for the foot and mouth crisis.
Off the field there have been trials and tribulations with the clubhouse and grounds. In 1991 the river had flooded for the first time in 20 years and came as a bit of a shock, but it did the field little harm. It has been over two or three times more since so we are getting used to it. Extensions and improvements have taken place to the clubhouse not all of them planned. For example, during my presidential period, Adrian Molloy and I looked at a crack in the floor by the windows, which seemed suddenly to have widened more than an inch. Adrian went off to find a structural engineer to check. A couple of days later, he came back with the report that his expert would give the building three months at best. It's only the glass in the windows that's holding up the roof, he said. That's when we decided to replace the walls with brick and after messing about for weeks with the council over possible grants - which never materialised - we got a loan from Tetley's for the work. More work has gone on since then, so that the roof and foundations are about all that's left of the original building. The car park has been resurfaced and recently the bar has had a complete refurbishment.
Several people have been prominent in the club's last 25 years, but most noticeable of all must be Fred Dawson, who took over from me as president in 1986 and whose reign continues today. During the last 25 years we have also lost a number of prominent servants of the club, both on and off the field. The ones that instantly spring to mind are Dave O'Boyle, Peter Firminger, Phil Clark, Roger Bates, Geoff Muxlow, Ian Nicholson, Mike Cavanagh, Dennis Johnson, Paul Wood and of course dear old Tommy Edwards, who, although seeming certain to outlive us all, sadly passed away just before the millennium.
The birth of league rugby
In season 1987/88, The Rugby Football Union introduced league rugby at all levels. The desire to win at all costs meant that clubs needed a playing strategy and coaches were introduced on a formal basis. The new Courage Leagues saw Halifax Vandals join us in Yorkshire Five. Clubs played each other once and after the first season both teams were promoted.
Yorkshire Silver Trophy Winners 1990 - 1991
Success at last. In 1987 Alan Davidson became the first club coach and under the captaincy of Martin Lee the Club won the Yorkshire Silver Trophy in season 1990 - 91 beating Burley 11-3 at Pontefract. The team lead by Martin Lee scored two tries and ensured that celebrations continued well into the night. Lee captained the side for a further two seasons and became the editor of the very popular Friends of Old Rishworthian Magazine. Unfortunately Martin moved to Somerset and the publication stopped.
In 1991 Peter Hanks took over as coach and after a few years of coaching by senior players the Club appointed Peter Walker as player coach.
Yorkshire 4 Champions 1998 - 1999
The Club had a great season in 1998-1999 and ended up deserved champions under coach Peter Walker and the captaincy of Darren Wade.
During that successful league campaign, they had three notable victories. Firstly they smashed their record score to thrash Rowntrees 88-0 at Copley, then turned in a championship winning performance to leap frog league leaders Knottingley in a 29 - 7 victory to go to the top. They rounded off their campaign and clinched the title with a 32 - 0 victory at Garforth.
In the 2000/01 season they came joint second, again coached by Peter Walker and captaincy of Daz Wade. Promotion was thwarted by the RFU imposing the "foot and mouth ruling" when calculating it's position in the league, and the Club lost out by one hundredth of a point. Peter Walker was a tough hooker and had previously played for Halifax and Huddersfield 1st XV`s. He introduced his unique style to the players and during his time as coach, the Club had its most successful period of rugby since the introduction of leagues. Unfortunately he had a serious neck injury in December 2000, and resigned the following season to be replaced by Lee Greenwood. Darren Wade has captained the team for a record eight seasons and broke the record for points scored in a season, 282 in 2000/01. That season saw a number of records broken, the highest every victory of 104 - 7 against Thornensians and the highest points for of 1004.
Other captains of this period included
Andy Wickham, a former Rishworth School Boy, who was a very good prop,
Andy Finnerann, a powerful back row forward.
Duncan Greenwood centre or wing.
In the 18 years of league rugby in the Club has played 253 matches, winning 131, losing 109, drawing 13, points for 4,439 against 3,071. The structure of leagues has changed many times in that period and clubs now play each other on a home and away basis. The Club currently plays in Yorkshire 5 North West.
The Club had a Veterans team in the 1990`s and opponents teams often included international players. Unfortunately the age of the senior teams became much older and in 2000 the vet's team was disbanded owing to lack of numbers.
Junior Rugby was introduced into the Club in the early 1980`s and Howard Carter developed a useful team with the scarce resources available. The Colts provided many players for the 1st XV and one player of note, Aaron Canning, moved to Ovenden Park, and in 2008 returned to play at Rishworthians. Unfortunately, owing to a lack of helpers the Colts team folded in 1992.
In April 2004 with the blessing of the Club, Kevin Flanagan, Glen Cockroft and John Hopkinson successfully reformed the Junior Section. The junior section in it's first season saw the introduction of mini rugby for under 7`s/8`s, under 14`s, and under 16`s. Over 80 players attended the first end of season prize giving on May 8th. In their first season the under 14's won the Morley Festival and were runners up at the Harrogate Festival. Dave Butler also joined the junior section later in 2004 returning to active club involvement after 3 years due ill health to become the mini/junior fixtures secretary.
In just seven years the junior section has gone from strength to strength running a full minis section (under 6 - under 12) plus an under 13's, 14's, 15's and 17's. Every season has seen one or more trophies won by the section, (see the juniors honours board on the right hand column). At the end of the 2008-09 season Glen stood down as Chairman and Dave Butler took over the role. To date 15 playes from the junior section have played 1stXV rugby and have played a big part in the clubs revival. The future is very encouraging.
With a new team coming on stream each year we soon reached pitch capacity at Copley and had to create a minis playing area beyond the 2nd pitch in 2007-08. This was followed in 2008-09 with a third full size pitch at Hollas Lane a 10 minute walk to the other side of Copley village. In 2009-10 a micros u6's playing area was created beyond the mini playing area at Copley. We are now looking at creating a second pitch at Hollas Lane as more junior teams come on board. With over 250 mini/junior players Copley is buzzing on Sundays. The next goal is a full range of junior teams wich we should achieve in the 2012-13 season and an under 21 development squad to ease the juniors into senior rugby.
75th Anniversary Season 2005 - 2006
Old Rishworthian RUFC planned a 75th Anniversary that would include rugby, entertainment and fun. We achieved all of these and hope that the club has improved it's standing in Yorkshire Rugby. Fred Dawson was President for a record 20th Season and Gary Morris took over the 1st team captaincy from Darren Wade who had been in charge for 8 seasons.
A special 75th Anniversary brochure was published for the occasion by Roy Greenwood and Peter Morgan. The first event of the season was on September 4th. The minis and Under 15`s teams played games in the morning and the 1st XV played Heath in the afternoon, who were our first opponents in 1930. Unfortunately we could not repeat the result and lost by 19 ? 3. James Clarke our influential No 8 broke his ankle and was unavailable until January.
With the 75th Anniversary in full swing a celebratory dinner was held at Bertie`s Banqueting Rooms on Thursday October 20th which was attended by 195 members and guests of the club, including 14 former presidents and 8 former captains. The main guests were Professor Ralph Kester, President of Yorkshire RFU, John Spencer, RFU Management Committee and former England and British Lion, Richard Armitage, local whit and raconteur and Fred Dawson the Club President. The evening was a great success and representatives from Rishworth Old Boys Society, Halifax, Heath, Halifax Vandals Old Crossleyans and Old Brodleians enjoyed mixing with friends and foes. Each guest was presented with a 75th anniversary tie.
Unfortunately the success off the field was not matched by success on the field. The 1st XV could not field a suitable back row owing to injuries and unavailability, and the results up until November were disappointing with two wins and seven defeats. Lee Greenwood resigned as coach on November 1st and Andy Callaghan took over and results improved dramatically, with the team only losing two games to the end of the season. Victory over Halifax Vandals by 44-7 in the John Payne Trophy was a great day witnessed by Professor Ralph Kester Yorkshire President and David Mcinnes, RFU Council member. The team finished third in Yorkshire 5NW and narrowly missed out on second place. Knaresborough and Wetherby are promoted and Halifax Vandals and Stanley Rodillians drop down from Yorkshire 4.
1st Team Record:- Played 26 Won 16 Lost 10 Points For 592 Against 323
2nd team Record:- Played 13 Won 6 Lost 7 Points For 278 Against 264
Toby Wood was the top points scorer with 97 and Alex Fearnley continued his remarkable try scoring with 91 points, although this season he also kicked 3 conversions. The second team did not have the pool of players required to maintain regular fixtures and hopefully this will be remedied next season, with a number of Under 17 players coming through the system. A successful Players Dinner was held on Maunday Thursday with guest speaker N Wheedon of Heath, Fred Dawson and Ray Crabtree entertaining 102 players, members and guests at the clubhouse.
The Club awards for the year were presented to:
Geoff Eastwood Trophy - Player of the Year: Joe Baker
Tommy Edwards Trophy - Players Player of the Year: Martin Brook
Terry Higgins Trophy - Best Newcomer: Andy Callaghan
Peter Firminger Tophy - Most Improved Player: Paul Hartley
Dave O`Boyle Trophy ? Clubman of the year: Chris Mitchell
G Hoyle Achievement Award: D Dawson
Darren Dawson introduced the "Sniper Magazine", which proved a hit with players and members cataloguing witty tales of goings on in the club.
The Junior and Mini Section went from strength to strength. The Mini Section now has teams ranging from Under 6 to Under 9`s. The four age groups gained success during the season, but the highlights were the under 7's winning the Harrogate Festival and at Headingley, when 31 mini players provided a half time display in front of nearly 5,000 people during the halftime break of the Leeds Tykes v Saracens match. The club sent a party of 158 people including 90 adults and a further 37 juniors who gave their support to the mini players.
The Under 15`s team was the success story of the Club. They completed their second season of junior rugby and surpassed last season?s performance with some excellent running rugby and solid defence.
Their playing record was: Played 24 Won 21 Lost 3 Points For 832 Against 181.
Only seven teams managed to score more than 1 try against them and in nine games they recorded a clean sheet.
The top points scorer was Edward Cockroft with 209 points (17 tries, 56 goals and 4 penalties), second was the leading try scorer Christus Ferneyhough with 30 tries 150 points. Luke Flanagan 95 points and Chris Dyson 92 points were third and fourth just short of the 100-point barrier. Unlike last year there were no trophies. In the Yorkshire cup they had a walk over against Pocklington and lost 5-7 in the last minute at Doncaster in the second round. In the Harrogate Festival they lost the opening game against Moortown and beat the finalists Hull Ionians, however they failed to reach the final by one try on the try count ruling. In the friendly games they were defeated by Doncaster and Hull Ionians, the last defeat was in October. Since then they have won 17 games. Some of the notable wins were against Lancashire cup semi finalists Leigh, Yorkshire cup semi finalists Wharfedale, Yorkshire cup finalists Doncaster and Cheshire Champions Altrincham Kersal.
At district and county level nine players were selected to play for West Yorkshire and three (Gilbert Gregory, Edward Cockroft and Christus Ferneyhough) represented Yorkshire against Lancashire. Congratulations are due to the hard working Junior Committee including Glen Cockroft, Kevin Flanagan, John Hopkinson, Dave Butler, Julie Costello, and Steven Cockroft. The minis attract parents and players from other clubs and we hope that Old Rishworthian RUFC will benefit from this on the playing side.
Off the field the Club is applying for Seal of Approval, which will prove to potential funders that the Development Plan is being adhered to and that all areas of the club are being regulated and managed correctly. The improvement to the playing areas has already started and with the aid of a £5,000 grant from the RFU Foundation, work on improving the far pitch will continue in the summer, with the hope that it will be playable by the start of season 2007-8.
The 75th Anniversary season was completed with the Club hosting the Annual Yorkshire West 7 a side competition. The club entered two sides with the 2nd team losing out in the Plate final. Apart from not gaining promotion to Yorkshire 4 the only other disappointment was the inability to arrange a fixture with local 75th celebrating club Old Brodleians. The Hipperholme men played their first game against Old Rishworthians in 1930, which we won 19-3. How times change.
2007 - 2009 Promotion at last
The 1stXV had spent several years in the doldrums of Yorkshire 5 but their fortunes changed in the 2007-08 season when they were promoted as champions and were to go on to produce their most successful spell of rugby in the clubs history.
2007 - 2008 Yorkshire 5 Champions
By early June 2007 we had signed up 6 former Rishworth School boys and the momentum had begun with a further 5 players joining before training had started. All we needed was a player coach, we heard Jamie Bloem was available and following a meeting on June 25th Jamie agreed to become the Old Rishworthians player coach. Jamie was introduced to members at the AGM and John Clough was asked to join the coaching team. Gary Morris was appointed as 1st team captain for the second season, and so the foundations for the season were in place.
Two pre season wins put the team in a good frame of mind for the opening EDF Junior Vase Cup fixture away to Burley. The game almost went according to plan as the Copley men were leading 16-3 but Burley then scored 17 second half points and a trip to Twickenham would not feature in our plans this season. However spirits were high when we visited Stanley Rodillians for our first league game which they won 39-12. Further matches in September saw the team score 181 points and concede only 3. In the Silver Trophy at Wibsey we struggled to win 17-12 then Stanley Rodillians visited Copley and were trounced 87-0 in the league. However a Silver Trophy 1st round match at Stanley Rodillians saw a surprise defeat 24-28. Back to the league saw the team end the year unbeaten scoring 501 points and conceding 21.
January 2008 will be remembered in Copley for the torrential rain and the effect it had on the Old Rishworthian`s pitches with flooding on Monday January 21st. The game against Mosborough, on January 26th was postponed. February 2nd was an important day. The Old Rishworthians, top of the league, played their main rivals Rotherham Phoenix. Whilst snow had fallen overnight, a local referee confirmed that the game could go ahead. Rotherham Phoenix was confident of an upset although the Copley men had other ideas and the Phoenix did not rise from its ashes! The following Saturday saw our local rivals Halifax Vandals visit Copley for the first game in Yorkshire 5C. Old Rishworthians did not disappoint the large crowd at this derby game. A wonderful controlled kicking game by Jamie Bloem ensured that the home side received all spoils and the victory 17-10 was celebrated long into the night. Winning all games was becoming the main focus. The next three games saw the team score 116 points and concede 3 and Jamie Bloem beat the club point's record of 282. Club records were starting to be broken and against Sheffield Oaks, the team scored a further 31 points and exceeded the club points record of 1004. The game against Sheffield Medicals had a significant effect. If the Copley men could defeat the Medics and Halifax Vandals defeated Rotherham Phoenix then the Champions title would go to the Old Rishworthians. That is exactly what happened. The most encouraging feature of the season was in the Sheffield Oaks league match where 7 players were 20 years of age or under: - Hedley Stirk, Gerard Rawlings, Wesley Aldridge, Nick Faulkner, Lee Atkinson, Jack Butcher and Joe Billing. This is exactly why the club decided to set up a Mini and Junior section and the hard work is slowly starting to pay off.
2008 - 2009 Yorkshire 4 Champions
Old Rishworthians 1st XV looked forward to life in Yorkshire 4, but little did the players and members realise that the team would be successful in winning the league and achieving back to back championship victories for the first time in the clubs history. Coaches Jamie Bloem and John Clough were reappointed for the season and Gary Morris led the side for the fourth successive season.
The season started on a positive note with the team winning the plate trophy at the annual Halifax 7`s. Three friendly fixtures were arranged and the team suffered one defeat against Goole, who weree in Yorkshire 3. In the e EDF Junior Vase and sneaked into the next round against Pontefract Pythons, winning 17-19. The 1st team included a number of players who played in last seasons Under 17 side, including, Anthony Oxley, Tom Clough, Ben Robinson, James Kidd, and Ben Porritt. The first league match against Hornsea at home saw the young side defeat Hornsea 34-0.
The team reached new heights on October 4th by defeating York RI at home 51-0. The following week the eagerly awaited local derby against Halifax Vandals, saw Aaron Canning make his return debut after playing at Halifax RUFC for 17 seasons, a difficult wind at Warley would have ensured that the Copley men returned with a draw, however the defeat by 16-13 was the jolt the team needed and proceeded to score 146 points in the next four games, conceding 25 and winning them all.
Bloem returned from injury and the EDF Junior Vase 3rd round match against St Edwards Old Boys saw Rishworthians 47-0 and then beat Old Modernians 8-3. Old Modernians returned to Copley the following week in a top of the table clash, but had no answer to the speed of Canning and the boot of Bloem, winning 39-3. Goole from Yorkshire 3 were the the 5th round EDF Junior Vase opponents. Tom Clough scored a superb try to shock the visitors and only a narrowly missed penalty spared Goole from an unexpected exit. The last game before Christmas at Rotherham Phoenix, saw the team produce the most professional defensive display of the season, whilst scoring 2 tries with a dropped goal from Canning. This victory ensured that Old Rishworthians were top of the Yorkshire 4 table by 5 points, a lead which they would not let go.
Over the next 7 weeks in 2009 only 3 games were completed owing to the inclement weather. A preliminary round Silver Trophy match at Leeds Corinthians, was won 16-13, and a difficult game at Thornensians saw the team scrape home by the only score of the game a Bloem penalty. The team which played at York RI was probably one of the youngest teams in the clubs history ( average age 22) and ran out winners 37-16. The eagerly awaited return match against Halifax Vandals saw Rishworthians deserved winners of the John Payne Trophy and two league points.
The momentum to become back to back champions was gaining pace and victories in the next two fixtures against Bramley Phoenix and Northallerton would ensure that the team was promoted as Champions for the second successive season. However the Northallerton pack kept the ball tight, killing it and frustrating the young Copley team to win the game 17-20. A victory at Old Modernians would have ensured that Old Rishworthians gained promotion as champions of Yorkshire 4, but again were defeated 6-14. So the champagne was on ice until the following Saturday when the Copley men entertained Leeds Corinthians. What a game to seal promotion as champions! The final score of 46-5 to the Copley men, included a hat trick by Lee Atkinson, who had been on the pitch for 10 minutes. The team celebrated long into the night. The final league match at Hornsea included a night at Scarborough with the players dressed as Vikings! First though the league match, and what an example of championship rugby. Hornsea had no answer to the pace of the Rishworthians play and the visitors won by 78 -0. A truly fitting end to a magnificent league season.
The Yorkshire Silver Trophy was now in their sights and after winning the preliminary round game at Leeds Corinthians in January the team has been handed two walkovers by Wibsey and Leeds Metropolitan University. The quarter final match at West Park Leeds was a step too far and the Yorkshire 3 side were too strong and the team went out of the trophy.
2009 - 2010 The Double - Promotion to Yorkshire 2 and Silver Trophy Winners
Rishworthians are going through the most successful period in its 80 year history. Both on and off the field, great advances are being made to develop the playing side and the infrastructure of your Club.
In June 2007, Jamie Bloem became Player/Coach of the Club and asked where would we like to be in three years time?' We thought that Yorkshire 3 would be a suitable league to aim for and that was agreed by all. Little did we realise that with John Clough on board as forwards coach, the team would exceed all expectations and next season will be playing in Yorkshire 2, having achieved promotion for the 3rd successive season. It has been an exciting time, but all players and coaches involved have worked hard to achieve the success they thoroughly deserve.
The 1st XV captained by Gary Morris and coached by Jamie Bloem and John Clough has over the past 3 years played 65 league matches, won 59, lost 6 (5 away and 1 at home), scoring 2,076 for and 521 against. This season Jamie Bloem is the leading points scorer with 187, closely followed by Aaron Canning on 170. Anthony Shoesmith has scored the most tries (16) and James Clarke scored 15 tries. The Team won the Yorkshire Silver Trophy Final 25-22 against Leeds Corinthians at Pontefract, although it was a nail biting finish, with Aaron Canning scoring the Golden Penalty in injury time. The squad consisted of 10 former junior players.
Yorkshire 3 consisted of some old rivals, including, Baildon, Wath on Dearne, Old Otliensians and Aireborough. The team was top of the league at Christmas for the third successive season, and only a narrow away defeat against Roundhegians (14-11) was the one blemish on a very successful first half of the season. Unfortunately the bad weather in January and February hindered our progress and when we played the next game on January 23rd 2010 we lost narrowly to Old Otliensians 20-22. However it was a match we did not deserve to win and a defeat by Wath on Dearne (15-3) on February 23rd on their heavy pitch was however the last defeat of the season. The team continued to surprise the opposition, ending the league season at home on April 24th with a workmanlike defeat of league Champions Roundhegians (26 - 25), and making sure that Bramley Phoenix could not overtake us. Unfortunately our home game with Bramley Phoenix could not be played owing to their involvement in the semi final of the Junior Vase. 39 players represented the 1st XV during the season, 18 players from the junior section. Injuries to James Clarke, Nick Faulkner and James McDonnell towards the end of the season reduced our options but the team enjoyed a Silver Trophy Cup run, beating Aireborough at home ( 46-17), Old Otliensians away (14-8) and eventually defeating Leeds Corinthians in the final (25-22).
Yorkshire 2 will be another step up and we are looking to strengthen the squad and aim to gain a mid table place. Success brings its own challenges and we will play in the Yorkshire Shield (bye in the 1st round, then the winners of Ilkley v Keighley away).
2010 - 2015 Yorkshire 2 relegation and Yorkshire 3 Champions
Three back to back promotions and Rishworthians had reached their highest ever league position and facing a very tough season in Yorkshire 2. Promoted clubs tend to struggle in their first season of Yorkshire 2 and finish relegated back into Yorkshire 3 and it proved to be too big a jump for us. Both Roundhegians and ourselves were relegated back to Yorkshire 3. This was due to several factors, injuries to key players, we struggled in the forwards, the 2ndxv players were not ready for Yorkshire 2 rugby plus Jamie Bloem stood down in November as coach to become a ruby league referee. It was a big blow but we must thank Jamie for 3 successive promotions.
Damian Ball ex Hailifax RLFC player took over as head coach and in his first season the team finish 7th in Yorkshire 3. In his second season he guided the team to promotion as Champions of Yorkshire 3. In 2012-13 we returned to Yorkshire 2 better prepared with stronger forwards, strength in depth from the 2nd XV and a squad knowing what to expect. We finished the season in tenth position but more work was required to push for top half of Yorkshire 2. Damian Ball gave us 3 seasons of steady progress and consolidation as a Yorkshire 2 club. He stood down at the end of the 2014-15 season and we thank him for having given us Yorkshire 2 stability.
2015 and The Future
Old Rishworthian RUFC is proud of its heritage and looks forward to success on and off the field in years to come. The Club knows that it is one of six junior rugby union teams in Halifax it must attract players by having sound facilities, an organised business plan and a committee who is confident of carrying out the right decisions. We are proud of our connections with Rishworth School and Rishworth Old Boys.
We are currently in the process of recruiting a new coach or player/coach who will work with our senior and junior players with the aim of pushing for Yorkshire 1 rugby and creating a colts section. Looking forward we have a 1stxv consolidating in Yorkshire 2, a strong 2ndxv having won back to back promotions and a flourishing mini and junior section producing good players who will make the transition to senior rugby. This season we have had plans passed to extend the front of the clubhouse to provide more space especially on Sunday mornings when the clubhouse is bursting at the seams. Work is now under way on the extension and will be ready for the new season. The next major project will be to build some new changing facilities to cater for our expanding junior section.
The future is bright at Rishworthians but the biggest challenge will be to ensure the junior section continues to thrive and produce a continuous stream of young talent into senior rugby. In Halifax rugby league is taught in most of the secondary schools so we must recruit these youngsters and convert to rugby union players at the under 6 -11 age grade levels.
Without the help of Volunteers the club would not be able to operate properly and the unsung heroes include Ken Fox, the Resident Chef, Dave Morley and Fred Dawson the Pitch and Bar stewards, Dave Butler, the Web Master and all those people who are too numerous to mention.
Here`s to the 100th Anniversary.
Fred Dawson President 1986 - present day
Dave Butler Secretary 1983-2001 (left) Paul Danielson (right) Treasurer 1986-2002 and the Copley Flood 1991
Martin Lee with the Silver Trophy 1991
Darren Wade receives Yorkshire 4 Champions Trophy 1998-99
Gary Morris receives Yorkshire 5 Champions Trophy 2007-08
Gary Morris receives Yorkshire 4 Champions Trophy 2008-09
Gary Morris lifts Silver Trophy 2010
Brad Fowles lifts u16's Yorkshire Bowl 2010
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Old Rishworthian RUFC Ltd are Registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act 1965 No. 29834R