The club’s first recorded game was played on 26 December 1865 against Richmond Rugby Club and was reported in the Surrey Comet. In those days the club was known as the Wimbledon Hornets.
In 1871, Wimbledon’s captain, Leonard James Maton, was called upon to represent the club 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 also hold copies.
The club 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 maroon and blue.
By the late 1950s we had begun to play at our, now cherished home at Beverley Meads. The earliest reported game from that time was against Westminster Hospital, who subsequently merged with 2 other hospitals and now play as Imperial Medicals Rugby Club.
The club continued to play at Barham road before eventually leasing the fields in the mid 80s and making it our permanent home. Shortly after this the amateur leagues were formed, and clubs march up them began. The 1st team are currently placed in London S.E. Premiership aka National 3 and we hope only a matter of time before they return to national league 2.
The Womens’ side of the club was born in the 1990/1991 season by John and Tina Ambler. The women are also still going strong and have become one of the leading Women’s team in the area and currently play in the Championship league.
In the 1997/1998 season, club stalwart Jim Green was tasked with setting up a minis (and later youth) section. Having recently passed their 25 anniversary this section of the club now boasts well over 600 players, including 3 youth girls teams, a collection of county trophies and regularly supply elite players for academies and national youth sides.
The club continues to develop and evolve as we recently added to our offer with a growing and talented youth girls section and are proud to boast one of the only groups for children with special educational needs in the area. In addition we now have a thriving walking rugby group aimed at the over 50s.
Whilst we have always known of the RFUIPF, our involvement with them really came to the fore when one of our 1st team players fell awkwardly near the end of a league game and was trapped between the two advancing packs. The result was life changing injuries which shocked the whole club. Representatives from the IPF were helping out almost immediately and they were incredible. They supported the parents of the player and found them hotel accommodation near his hospital. They also came to the club and advised us what we could do to help. They stayed involved with the payer for as long as they were needed and helped in many ways, including financially.
On the advice of the IPF we organised a 7s competition to raise funds for the injured player. The response of the rugby family was truly heart-warming. All the teams we invited rallied and got a team to the event. We raised significant funds to go towards the cost of adaptive accommodation and the event became an annual competition. It now raised funds solely for charity with the main benefactor being the IPF.
Playing today to add to our support and have fun was an easy decision to make.
Click below to read the full history of Wimbledon RFC 1865 at the World Rugby Museum