The history of Wimbledon RFC
Founding member of the Rugby Football Union
The year 2015 marks the 150th anniversary of Wimbledon Rugby Football Club. The first recorded game was played on 26 December 1865 against Richmond Rugby Club and was reported in the Surrey Comet. At that time, the team were called the "Wimbledon Hornets".
In 1871, our then captain, Leonard James Maton, was called upon to represent Wimbledon at a meeting of 19 rugby clubs (including Blackheath, Richmond, The Law Club, Guy's Hospital, Harlequins and King's College Hospital) which were formed in England at the time. The purpose of the meeting was to form the Rugby Football Society and it was held on 26 January at the Pall Mall Restaurant, Cockspur Street (now the site of the Canadian Embassy and a branch of Barclays Bank!).
Leonard Maton (an Old Rugbeian) was elected to the Rugby Football Society's Executive Committee and, single-handedly, wrote the first Laws of rugby at his address on Homefield Road, Wimbledon Village. In 1874, he went onto become the third President of what was by then known as the Rugby Football Union. By this time, we had changed our name to Wimbledon Rugby Football Club.
Another of our captains, H.J. Graham, became Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the RFU in 1877. It was to him that the first letter was sent from a rugby club in India that was folding due to lack of membership. They were offering £60 to the RFU which would pay for a trophy of "Indian workmanship" to be made. The trophy would be played for annually between "the last few remaining members of the [RFU]" so that this Indian rugby club could be remembered in rugby history…and so the Calcutta Cup was born. The originals of these letters are held in the RFU Museum at Twickenham but we do hold copies.
We played on Wimbledon Common until the First World War, using the Rose and Crown in Wimbledon Village as our changing rooms and clubhouse. We then went into suspended animation when the First World War started and re-formed in 1927. It was at this time that we changed our colours from broad blue and white to the colours we all know and love, maroon and blue.
More recently, the club moved to its current home at Beverley Meads, just off Copse Hill, in 1987 coinciding with the setting up on amateur league rugby in Britain.
The Ladies club was born in the 1990/1991 season by John and Tina Ambler and in the 1997/1998 season, club stalwart Jim Green was tasked with setting up a minis (and later youth) section.
With the 1st XV being placed, somewhat arbitrarily, in Surrey 2 in the first year of the leagues, Wimbledon began its rise through them:
1987/92 - Surrey 2
1992/93 - Winners of Surrey 2
1993/94 - Winners of Surrey 1
1994/95 - Winners of London League 3 South West
1995/96 - Winners of London 2 South. (With 26 consecutive league wins on the way).
1996/99 - London League 1
1999/00 - Although coming back strongly after an appalling start to the season (9 straight defeats), finished 6th from bottom in London 1 and, due to the re-structuring of the leagues, were relegated
2000/05 - London 2 South
2005/06 - The club was moved to London 2 North
2006/07 - Back in London 2 South and looking for promotion.
2007/08 - Club moved to London 3 South West
2008/09 - 1st XV promoted into London 1 South
2009/10 - Consolidated position in London 1 South
2010/11 - Finished 3rd bottom and were relegated back to London 2 after a season decimated by major injuries to 1st team players
2011/12 - Finished 2nd in London South West 2 and were promoted back to London 1 South after a play-off win over Charlton Park
2012/2013 - Finished 4th in London 1 South