Woodbridge Rugby Club
A heart-warming tale of a club started by the community, for the community.
The early years Men’s Rugby
It was early January in frosty old Suffolk when a few letters appeared in the Woodbridge Reporter from local people looking to form a rugby club. They got together (beer may have been involved) and surprisingly quickly organised a side to play a team from Woodbridge School. The newly formed club side did well to come a close second (remember this is a heroic tale) to the school with a score of 16 – 17.
Interest grew over the Summer of ’69 (the same year that singer Bryan Adams got his first real 6 string!) and a stronger fixture list was arranged for the club’s first full season that Autumn. The club’s membership grew quickly and, in 1970, a 2nd XV was created. The young club was gaining a good reputation not only for hospitality off the field (something we’re still very strong at) but also for hard endeavour on it.
Up until mid 1974 the club had been vaguely nomadic, playing on spare fields across Ufford, Melton and Bredfield. One of the founding members; Mike Lubbock still remembers getting showered in pubs after matches but then standing outside wet and freezing until the landlord would open the bar – happy days. In ’74 we (notice it’s ‘we’ now all the hard work’s been done!) put in a successful planning application for land in Bromeswell and raised funds for a new clubhouse. The clubhouse, Hatchley Barn, was completed in 1976. We have aways been immensely proud that we own our clubhouse. Not only that but it’s so good it won a National Playing Fields Award in 1977.
Mike Lubbock became the Club’s first captain, then coach and latterly spent 24 years as President. He is now Honorary Life President and said, “The early years were a lot of fun and a lot of hard work but it was all worthwhile as the Club now has arguably the best pitches and clubhouses in Suffolk.” The Club’s superb facilities and friendly atmosphere have attracted players and supporters from throughout the area. In the early 1990s it started a junior section where senior players taught their children to play the sport they loved. A first step in a growing legacy.
On 31 Jan 2015 WRUFC Honorary Life President Mike Lubbock (accompanied by Adam) went to the Leicester v Northampton LV Cup match and was (quite rightly) treated as a Guest of Honour including a mention in the programme. They were met by Steve Kenney also an old Tigers scrumhalf (365 appearances, 1975-90). Steve took Mike to the President’s Box and introduced him to Dusty Hare, Paul Dodge, Peter Toms, Peter Wheeler and others. Tigers did not disappoint with a win over Northampton.
Enlightenment Women’s Rugby
Woodbridge’s participation in women’s rugby started most recently in October 2006 when Glyn Gough set himself a challenge to get a girls team at Woodbridge Rugby Club. The rumour whistled around the local area through schools and eventually filtered through to a nearby struggling ladies team based in Ipswich. Ipswich Captain Emma ‘Magic’ Johnson saw this as an opportunity to create a feeder team onto their side, intrigue took her along to the first training session on the 6th November 2006 along with a couple of fellow players.
Glyn’s determination to support a new side in the Club was impressive and gradually the squad grew, as did the age of the players! It was becoming clear that the side was unlikely to be a youth side but a new ladies team! The first match was set up against Colchester, away on Friday 2nd March 2007, following a convincing win spirits were high and training numbers grew week by week averaging 20 on a Wednesday night. In April 2007 the team officially affiliated and became ‘The Amazons’ for their first game at home on the 23rd September 2007. The squad goes from strength to strength and achieved promotion in each of their first two years of playing, losing only 2 games in the last 2 years!
Today’s Club Community Rugby
Over the years the club has continued to invest in facilities. In 2007 we bought land to provide a much-needed third pitch and additional parking for our very own barmy army of supporters. And if that wasn’t enough, a new £200k extension with 3 more changing rooms, a refs room more loos and a gym was opened by Mike Lubbock on 25 August 2012.
In 2013 we realised that we had expanded the changing facilities but left the social area largely unchanged. Consequently the large number of youth players, parents and coaches who turned up on Sunday mornings were in danger of breaking some rule or other about too many rugby players and supporters in too small a space. So, for the second time in 5 years, fund-raising swung into gear and, with the significant help of the RFU, we extended the social area – doubling the main clubhouse room, adding some storage, covering the spectator terrace and fitting a disabled loo (which works). Die hard members will miss the sunken dance floor but we now have much more space and aspirations to hold our own balls – always comforting.
In 2013 one of our coaches was inspired by the 2012 Paralympics. Richard Wilding suggested that we start a wheelchair rugby team to pick up on support for the game and fill a gap in the east of England for training facilities. The Woodbridge Wheeled Warriors were born after several taster sessions at Woodbridge School sports dome. Hard on the heels of fundraising for Club extensions the team got to work on raising some £40,000 for hi-tech chairs and a trailer to cart them to the weekend league games that are the modus operandi for the sport. The Wheeled Warriors train every Sunday morning at Rock Barracks and entered a league in 2014.
So there you have it – a state of the art Rugby Club with great facilities (did I mention wifi and a sodding great telly?) fit for the greatest sport on the planet in the loveliest community….ahhh.
Woodbridge Rugby Club now fields two senior teams, the Warriors 1XV and Saxons 2XV, a senior women’s team, the Amazons with development squad, the Valkyries at U18 and U16. The Veteran’s team plays eclectically, season by season as and when demand rises. We’re also lucky to have over 320 junior boys and girls training on Sundays under the supervision of a delightful crew of hard-working volunteer, RFU qualified coaches. Woodbridge Rugby Union Football Club works hard to maintain the right blend of “work hard – play hard” to help members develop mental and physical fitness while enjoying the game both on and off the pitch. Add to this our hard-training Wheelchair Warriors and you have a Club truly made by the community for the community.
Current club President, Rob Simpson comments, “I grew up in the club watching my dad and uncle playing at Bredfield and then at Hatchley Barn. I joined the club while still at school and played Colts and then Senior rugby. It is such a friendly and happy club, It’s a delight to watch my own children playing!”
Join The Club a way of life
It’s not just a Club membership – it’s a way of life. No one need ever be alone when there’s a rugby club around – although you need not play rugby or want to watch rugby – by joining Woodbridge Rugby Club you will have the opportunity of doing so if you wish – but you’ll also have the chance to help out, spectate, volunteer and socialise with some of the nicest people in the community. Your subscription will help us get and support more youth, men and women members playing a game that is gaining in popularity and which holds Teamwork, Respect, Enjoyment, Discipline and Sportsmanship as its core values. Newcomers are always welcome whether as adult or junior players or as social members. Woodbridge Rugby Club has a vibrant social scene and runs events all through the year from the end of season Ball to quiz nights and discos. Our events are open to members and non-members and anyone interested in joining the Club or attending social functions should keep an eye on this website or contact the Club Chairman, Rob Simpson on 01394 412190 or firstname.lastname@example.org