Barkers Butts - the club that produces stars
Barkers Butts RFC has been the training ground for several top international rugby players - graduates Neil Back and Danny Grewcock are World Cup winners.
England won the Rugby World Cup final on Saturday 22 November 2003. And they had a Warwickshire club to thank for their part in grooming a couple of the stars that helped them on their way.
Barkers Butts RFC formed in 1947 and in their more recent history have had players graduate from junior sections and go on and represent their country.
Neil Back and Danny Grewcock are two such players who played their part in England's cup campaign in 2003. Back was superb in the final in Sydney.
The list goes on with the likes of Leon Lloyd, Rob Hardwick and Damion Evans also representing their countries on the global stage.
So why is the club so successful in producing quality players from a young age?
It is due in part to the club having had a colts side for over 45 years which is arguably the longest for any side in Warwickshire.
Along with four senior sides the club operates a strong youth policy with seven teams spanning the ages of eight to 14.
Barkers Butts also has very close links with a number of secondary schools within the city of Coventry including King Henry VIII, Bablake, Woodlands and Finham Park.
The club often refers to itself as the club at the centre of England. This could, but doesn’t, derive from the fact that messieurs Back and Grewcock have been at the heart of the national side.
Moreover, they get their name from the fact they are based near Meriden, a village with a cross marking the centre of the country.
Barkers Butts have been at their home off Pickford Grange Lane ever since 1975.
Prior to this they were initially based on Northbrook Lane in the Keresley area of Coventry. In fact they set up base there twice, on different sides of the road, with a move elsewhere in Keresley in-between.
The club was formed in 1947 when Daimler RFC ceased to exist and the first side was led by John Gardiner. In 1973 mini rugby was introduced which became the backbone of the club’s success’ today.
During the 1960’s Barkers Butts found themselves struggling to find more competitive games because of the historic traditions the code of rugby union was steeped in. Being unable to play the better sides in the midlands, the club had to look elsewhere and ended up travelling further afield to take on teams from Hemel Hempstead and Sedgley Park.
The introduction of the Warwickshire Cup in the 1970’s allowed Barkers Butts the chance to humble some of the bigger clubs in the area and when the leagues were introduced there was some consternation over the placing of Barkers in Midlands One. Despite being relegated from this division to Midlands West One last season, the club have proved that they can play at such a level.
If Barkers could field an all star XV of former servants, the line-up would be impressive. But it doesn’t just stop here, for Barkers are likely to continue to produce some of the nation’s top rugby stars for years to come with their excellent junior sections and quality coaching. And maybe the senior squad can begin to build on their reputation in the league.
The latest Barkers' old boys due to play for their country in the World Cup in New zealand in September 2011 are Tom Wood for England and Jim Hamilton for Scotland.