A Brief Description of Camberley Rugby Football Club.
The Club was founded in 1931 and re-formed after the Second World War in time for the 1947/8 season. Watchetts Recreation Ground has always been the home of the club and it is believed that it shared the distinction with Bath of being the only clubs in the National leagues that play its rugby on a public park, when we were at National levels.
Prior to the commencement of the league structure in 1987, Camberley’s greatest success on the field of play was the winning of the Surrey Cup in 1973. However, the infrastructure of the club was very strong with seven senior sides being fielded at its peak and the club was one of the first in the region to introduce mini and junior rugby in 1973/4. Colts rugby was introduced a couple of years earlier and it was at this time that the club’s main strength as a family club became established.
At the start of the Courage Leagues, Camberley was placed in London Division Two South alongside neighbours Basingstoke and several London based Old-Boys sides. After a few years of consolidation, the league title was won in 1992/1993, followed by the Division One title two years later with a 100% record. The old Jewson Two South title followed in 1997/1998 when only two league games were lost. Thus the club found itself in National One (level 3) alongside Blackheath, Nottingham, Otley and Harrogate. In the meantime the Surrey Cup was won in 1995 and 1998.
The coming of the professional era brought the problems of touchline support dwindling and finances being stretched. Whilst the first half of our first season in National Two was reasonably successful, injuries to key players, retirements and lack of income led to a barren season and a half. Only great efforts by coaching staff and players alike enabled the club to avoid relegation in season 1999/2000, with key doubles over Blackheath and Nottingham and wins against Lydney and Fylde.
The club managed to survive in National Three South for a couple of seasons but, in hindsight, it was clear that with the lack of adequate funding and the loss of key players this league was much too high a level for the club to sustain.
This slipping down the leagues continued for a couple of more seasons in the belief of the committee at that time that the club should find its own level however when we were relegated from London Division 2 South West, our starting point in the Leagues, it was agreed that more drastic measures were required.
We along with some other major clubs discovered that our journey through the National Leagues had had a serious impact on the Club as the 1stXV had effectively separated from the other sides. This had resulted in a significant reduction in the number of senior players available each week and also a split between the mini /youth sections and the adult sides.
Much work has been done by many people between 2005 and 2009 to ensure that we have returned to operating as a single club financially and also on the playing field.
With the new coaching team of Ben Glossop and JJ the 2010/11 we saw a great improvement in the results for the long suffering supporters and during the season the 1stXV only lost to 1 side, Teddington, albeit 3 times (twice in the league and also in the cup) However, having finished 2nd in LSW3 1stXV will play 2011/12 in LSW2 with the 2nds also promoted to the Surrey Alliance Reserve League following them winning their reserve league last season. The club is also planning to run a 3′s team and also an occasional Vets both of which will play in the Surrey Reserve Leagues.
Our Ladies team
We were formed in the early nineties, from an idea spawned by the then Bar Manager Pauline Ballard. She and some of the other female bar staff were so intrigued by the stories told by men and their funny shaped balls that they decided to give it a go themselves.
The very first game was played at a foggy Wasps ground, the team numbered around 12 and only 10 shirts (found in a dark corner of the club house) were available, so it was a case of bring your own boots and shirt.
After a few more warm up matches we ventured into the Leagues, and in our first year failed to cross the try line in any game. However, we persisted and eventually notched up a first win against Old Abbotsonians.
The most successful season in the Ladies team history to date kicked off with winning the Surrey 10s competition. It was then into the season proper. It was a long season, starting with a friendly in August and not really ending until the National 7s on the last weekend of May. In that time we played 24 matches, won 22, drew one and lost one. We scored 664 points and conceded only 83. As well as becoming Surrey 10s champions, we won the National 7s Bowl and only narrowly lost in the semi-final of the National Cup to London Welsh. We also became the South East Division 2 League Winners.
As well as finally winning some team silverware, squad members continued to rack up individual honours with Clare Denison, Carol Cross and Sheree Crabb being selected for regional games. Emily Price was also chosen to play for England under 19s. .
It was certainly a change from the previous year and Camberley felt defeat for the first time in a long while but it only took a couple of matches to hit our winning stride once more. We finished a respectable fourth and continued our 7s success with the team winning honours at several tournaments and once again reaching the final of the National 7s shield. More players also received regional honours, namely Denise Walsh, Jessica Mourad and Georgie Crabb.
We continued our success into the 2006/07 season and finished third in the league and runners up in the Old Cats 7s tournament, under coaches Simon Burgess and James Dunne. Clare Denison and Sheree Crabb received regional honours while Georgie Crabb was called up for both regional and England under 19s sides.
Following an RFU restructure we went into 2007/08 in Championship 2, facing previous foes such as London Welsh and Wasps as well as new teams including Aylesford. Simon Burgess continues to coach us, supported by James Dunne and Gareth Dunne. Unfortunately the loss of players through injuries, pregnancies and unavailability meant we had 2 poor seasons. However we have high hopes for the season ahead and are looking for new members as a matter of priority to ensure our continued success story.
Mini and Juniors – Youth section.
Camberley RFC started their mini junior section in 1973/74, held its first tournament in 1975 and remains today the largest single group within the club boasting a membership in excess of 300 boys and girls.
There are four sections to Camberley RFC Youth – Kinders is the start up group from 5 years through to 7. This group meets on Sunday morning between 10.00 and 12.00 noon and is designed to have fun, run about a lot, throw a Rugby ball around and include Mum and Dad in some of the games and excercises.
When old enough, the next age group is the Mini Section, which is age group 7 to 12. This is a mixed sex group and we have many girls playing as well as boys. This age group competes against other Clubs in the Surrey Mini League with home and away games as well as Festivals for the A & B squads (more experienced players) and the Development Tournament – designed for new clubs and new players learning Rugby competition. Tag Rugby is practiced at the early age and by age 9 we start to introduce tackling and other contact parts of the game – all in a safe and constructive manner. Annually we host our own Mini festival in October and the Surrey B Festival in late March or April each year, when over a 1,000 youngsters fill Watchetts at each, and some exiting games take place.
The next move is to Junior Rugby – age 13 to 15 and it is at this point the Girls teams are formed (Under 14 / U16 / U18) and they practice and compete in Girl teams only. The boys compete in the Surrey Junior League but do not attend Festivals. They do have the opportunity to compete in 7′s and 10′s tournaments throughout the country. Plus this age group starts to go on Rugby Tours both domestic and International tours.
The next move is into Senior Youth – age 16 to 18. This is the introduction into ‘mans’ Rugby and it is here the integration work commences where our young players work with our Club Coach and his training team to learn the Camberley way of playing and encouraging our young home grown players to stay with the Club. This age group competes in the Surrey League and goes on tour and competes in 10′s and 7′s tournaments. We are one of the few clubs to be able to field teams at these age groups as many clubs loose players from 16+. We aim to give players at this age games, and some have played up where eligible into the adult age group development squad games – giving them excellent experience and the opportunity to build friendships with the senior players and staff.
All players and new players of any age described above are welcome to come down and trial with our club.
Each Youth Squad has a Coach and Coaching assistants, a Squad Manager, First Aid support team to manage the player development. Their details can be found elsewhere on this web site.