Coventry RFU

 

In 1874, a Coventry XV, which included members of Stoke Criket Club, took part in what could be described as the first organised game of Rugby football in Coventry. It was against Allesley Park College at Allesley. With the game in its infancy, one half was played to Rugby rules, the other to Association. The first headquarters were set up at the Old Bull Fields and for the first two seasons the club were unbeaten.

 

The ground became known as the Butts when part of the Old Bull Fields was enclosed, the first match being against Stourbridge in October 1880. Involvement began in the Midland Counties Cup which was won five times in seven years. Fixtures were now occurring in London, Wales and the North in the 1890’s, players began to win representative honours.

 

 

 

 

MCFU cup 1890-1891

 

The progress of the club was disrupted in 1911 by events which led to the loss of the Butts Ground, where the Northern Union game was played for a short while. The club was re-constituted and until the outbreak of war in 1914, played on a new ground at London Road made available by Col Sir Wiliam Wyley.

 

All club Rugby was suspended during the First World War and in 1919/20, with London Road having been lost to Governement building, activities resumed with some games being played at Coventry and North Warwickshire Cricket ground at Binley Road. The move to Coundon Road was then made in 1921 and it was then possible to extend the fixture list once again after the difficulties of 1911. This was the time when Welsh clubs really began to play a big part in fixtures. In 1923 the Midland Counties Cup was won for the last time and during the next decade, the club reached the point of being one of the leading clubs in the country.

 

Activity continued during the second World War, the club recording a record 72 victories and when hostilities finished in 1945, the club was well placed to move forward. A war time wooden hut was purchased and became the clubhouse at Coundon Road. The early 50’s saw a slight downturn in playing fortunes but then over the next decade came another highly successful period with the number of players receiving International honours growing rapidly.

 

In 1958, the new brick-built clubhouse was opened at Coundon Road, the installation of floodlights coming in 1960. Playing-wise, the club were now once again amongst the strongest in the country, numerous players also being part of the successful Warwickshire county squad.

 

On the eve of the Centenary season in 1973/74, the club won the RFU Club Knock Out cup twice in successive seasons, the Centenary itself being marked with a match against the Barbarians and a successful Dinner.

 

 

 Coventry Centenary season 1974

 

Whereas playing success did continue a little longer, the beginning of the 80’s did show a downturn in fortune, co-inciding with the advent of league rugby in 1987 with just one season being enjoyed in the inaugural First Division. That scenario continued through into the 1990’s and with league and cup Rugby now firmly established, the club featured largely in the 2nd and briefly 3rd divisions.

 

1996 saw the game turned professional and the club, after a welcome upturn in playing fortune, were within 40 minutes of achieving Premiership status following two exciting matches with London Irish.

 

The Chairman at the time, Keith Fairbrother took charge of affairs in 1998 and into the new millennium and exciting new plans were drawn up which were to see the club effectively move "full circle". The sale of Condon Road, the home for 83 years, was the prelude to a move to the brand new Butts Park Arena in September 2004, the official opening being performed by Sir Clive Woodward, the former England World Cup winning manager.

 

The first phase of the magnificent developement has been completed, three more being planned, as the club make strident efforts to achieve the aim of reaching the Premiership.

 

The beginning of the 2006/7 season saw a new Owner and Chairman at the helm, with Keith Fairbrother having sold the club to Andrew Green.

 

John Butler

 

Club Historian

 

 

 

 

 

 

Coventry Rugby Club at the Buts park Arena logo