The rugby section of the Bournville Athletic Club was established on 17th August 1909, when 22 members showed a strong interest in taking up the game. So it was that workers from Cadburys in Bournville village founded BOURNVILLE RFC. Donning the chocolate colours and captained by Mr J Paddison, the team won more games than they lost in the first year, playing 23 matches, 20 were won, 2 lost and 1 drawn, with 319 points for and 70 against. By the second season the team lost only 4 matches.
By 1910-11 BRFC entered the competition for the Midland Counties Rugby Cup and reached the third round. In 1911-12 they set up another record: they were not beaten at home and lost only 8 out of the 22 matches. In 1910 a successful 2nd team was formed under the captaincy of Mr S J Robotham.
The original Bournville RFC sides consisted entirely of Cadbury employees and the company would traditionally award caps to players. Gradually through the years other players from outside the Cadbury family joined the club, whose seasons consisted of friendly matches against local rivals such as Five Ways Old Edwardian, Selly Oak and most notably, Kings Norton.
During the 1960’s Bournville achieved famous results, the player base within this period was still heavily reliant on Cadbury employees and notable players for the club during this period included Dave Kappler and John Sutherland, now Executive Finance Director and Chief Executive respectively at Cadbury Schweppes PLC, Both are now Vice Presidents of Bournville RFC.
The 1970s saw the birth of the Bournville RFC Colts side and included many players that were to go on and represent the club’s 1st team with distinction. These players were involved in the club’s most successful period the 1980’s before the official rugby leagues were formed. The club played in Merit Tables that were sponsored by the radio station BRMB.
Official league tables were formed in the late 1980s. However the league formation coincided with a less successful period in Bournville’s history as playing numbers dwindled and the standard of rugby players fell.
In the early 1990s the club faced a difficult future with poor league results, uncertainty over it’s future at Rowheath and falling numbers in players. To boost the game’s popularity the club’s Colts section was reformed by Neil Suddaby using players from local schools. The management of this side was taken over by Ivor Boehmer, who has almost single-handedly run the Junior Section of Bournville RFC for over 12 years. He is still to be found out on the field every Sunday morning.
Despite falling player numbers in nearly all local clubs, Bournville has managed to maintain 3 Senior sides which is a far cry from the 6 sides of the mid-80s but admirable when one realises that other local Clubs are having to merge to stay in existence.
Founding members of Worcestershire and Herefordshire and affiliated to the North Midlands Rugby Football Union, Bournville has gone from strength to strength, particularly during the 21st century, where the Club has achieved unprecedented success, gaining promotion in four consecutive seasons. The Club has transcended from Level 10 to the current Level 6 of the massive league pyramid of Rugby Union that begins with a broad, solid base and rises to the pinnacle of an England cap awarded to the gifted few.
After 100 years of rugby at Rowheath a major change to the Club’s aspirations has been the move to the Edgbaston Campus of The University of Birmingham, known as Bournbrook, with the associated social facilities at the Munrow Sports Centre. This move provides a superb playing surface for the attractive style of rugby for which Bournville is renowned and it will enable the Club to develop its infrastructure not least of all for the thriving and buoyant mini/junior section. The seniors will be based at Munrow and play at the Bournbrook and Metchley Park pitches. The Minis and Juniors will play at the Pitchatts Park site on Sundays with the use of a 3G All weather surface.
Bournville, the top Junior Club in the region, has ascended from Level 10 to currently play in National 3 Midlands at level 5 having been promoted in successive seasons. This meteoric rise up the Leagues is due in no small measure to the diligence and industry of the players, coaches, supporters, officials and Club sponsors without whose generosity this could not be achieved. A competitive squad is testament to the skills of the coaching team and they have proved during the season that they are well capable of playing in the level above.
The season 2011-2012 has been a tremendously successful one for Bournville. In Midlands One West Sutton Coldfield deservedly secured the automatic promotion spot finishing as unbeaten Champions. Bournville, as runners-up lost only two games, both to the Champions, and with such an impressive overall record managed to secure home advantage for the play off match. In the Midlands One East half of the League Derby is automatically promoted as Champions with Paviors of Nottingham occupying the runner-up spot. A large crowd gathered to see Bournville win an exciting game convincingly 42 – 11 to right the injustice of two seasons ago.
The meteoric rise of the Club continues and after a convincing victory over Paviors of Nottingham in the Midland League Play Off game Bournville enter the unchartered waters of National League Rugby.
After another tremendous season Bournville will be playing in the SSE Leagues (an Energy Company sponsor levels 3, 4 and 5) in 2012 -2013 for the first time in the it’s illustrious history. This will be at Level 5 in the National League 3 Midlands including Clubs like South Leicester, Mansfield, Hinckley, Scunthorpe, Sutton Coldfield and Ampthill.
I would like to thank all of our existing and new advertisers and sponsors of the Club. Your support is vital and greatly appreciated.
Let’s all enjoy the game and here’s to another hundred years of straight, running rugby!
Stephen George Foley