Swaffham Rugby Club
was founded in the Red Lion Public House, 1982, by a group of local rugby enthusiasts. Early fixtures were played on a local school pitch and post match hospitality was enjoyed in an adjacent Sorts Centre bar. As the club progressed, results improved, our overall strength and organisation grew and an initiative was born towards obtaining our own ground and clubhouse. After a number of ‘false dawns’ we secured an option on 7.8 acres of land, in a prime position, close to the town centre.
We were required to raise £16,000, in two years, to secure the purchase of the land. Starting from scratch, with little in the bank, the sum was raised through fund raising events including a massive draw for a Ford Fiesta car, club Debentures and donations.
In the 1985/86 season, having purchased the land, the site was prepared, on two levels, land drains installed, two pitches created, posts erected and we were almost ready to go. But, we still had no clubhouse. To cut a long and arduous story short, we obtained Sports Council and Local Authority grants, raised considerable further funds ourselves and discovered a 90 x 24 feet sectional, timber building, for sale, in deepest Sussex. This was purchased, transported to Norfolk, erected by club members and now, in October 1987, we had a complete home to operate from. The cost then of the project was approximately £75,000 and our only debt was a brewery loan of £10,000. The clubhouse was formally opened by ‘Budge’ Rogers ex-England Captain and Chairman of Selectors.
Meanwhile, as time went on, we won and lost a few cup finals and achieved a runner up status in the local Norfolk League. In 1990, a Mini section was formed by Hugh Green. This Section has developed and matured beyond our wildest dreams and, to date, we have over 150 registered Mini, Youth, and female younger members. They greatly enjoy their Sunday morning activity and skill sessions with our qualified coaches and helpers and also participate in regular exchanges with other local clubs and Club Junior Sections from outside the County also visit us.
A further initiative commenced in 1992 when first thoughts were given towards the replacement of the timber clubhouse, standing only on Temporary Planning Permission, by a purpose built permanent facility. To this end, a Club Sub-Committee formulated a detailed project design and cost package, over a period of 3 to 4 years, for eventual submission to the Lottery Sport England Grant Fund. Due to changes in Lottery format, this was somewhat delayed but was eventually submitted in May 2000. In September of 2000, Sport England decided to support the scheme in principle and we commenced working with them to detail the final package. This resulted in a Sort England grant, of £397,383, in April 2001. This was supplemented by further grants of £47,000 from The Foundation of Sport and the Arts, and £3,000 each from Norfolk County Council and Breckland Council. A grand total of £447,383. Further Club Funds were added into the equation to arrive at a final project cost of £516,440
Building commenced in April 2001 and the new clubhouse was occupied on 1st November 2001 and was formally opened, by Jon Armstrong, of Sport England, in April 2002.
The new facility compromises of four en-suite changing rooms, two en-suite Officials changing rooms, a large and comfortable lounge and bar, a modern professionally equipped kitchen, bar store, public and disabled toilets and other rooms.
The Club has now developed into a firmly established rugby and local community organisation. We compete in an adult Eastern Counties League programme and the Mini and Youth section goes from strength to strength. The new building is also widely utilised by our local community for social and other events.
We now look forward to future new challenges and to becoming a real multi-facet club that offers a modern, purpose built sports facility, for the development of players of all ages and both genders. This aim will be furthered by a recently established link with Leicester Tigers. Leicester decided, in 2002, to set up their Elite Player Development Centre (EPDC), for this area, at Swaffham RUFC. Coaching sessions are staged every two weeks, in season, and young players visit the centre from throughout the county and participate in professionally supervised development activities. 2002 also saw the first ‘Tigers Summer School’, at the Club, when young players attend, in late July, for a 5-day course in rugby skills.
So, if you have got this far with reading about our history and development and wish to pursue your adult rugby playing skills, or even regenerate them, or you have children whom may benefit and develop from being introduced to the game, contact the Club and you will be warmly welcomed into our ‘family based’ environment. Likewise, should you have a profession or business interest towards participating in sponsorship of the Club, we will obviously be most pleased to liase with you.