Club History & Vice Presidents 1 of 2

1. Club History - Work in Progress


1926 - Chichester City Rugby Football Club was founded. Based on enthusiasm from supporters of the Chichester School Rugby team at Langley House, West Street, the school chaplain, the Reverend R G T Gillman, called a meeting to discuss the formation of a senior rugby team in Chichester. The Dolphin and Anchor was used as the clubhouse and bar. Under the chairmanship of Lieutenant Colonel Coates the club flourished. The team included Jack Clemens, Russell Hillsden, Tiny Humphries, Cecil Herniman and Jack Treger. First season opponents included Portsmouth Casuals, Fareham and United Services Portsmouth. Home games were played at Lavant, Chichester Police Station, College Lane and Somerstown.

1928 - Club reorganised as Chichester and Bognor Rugby Football Club to encourage expansion.

1934 - The club amalgamates with the West Sussex County Officers Club and is renamed as Chichester Rugby Club.

1939-1945 - World War 2 halts rugby.

1939 - Chichester City Council acquired the land that forms Oaklands Park for £11,000. At this time, it comprised of residential buildings, a farmyard and farm land. In the early part of the Second World War a massive water reservoir was built which could be used to provide water to fight fires in the event of a blitz. It had been built to the dimensions of an Olympic sized swimming pool. Hay-making was also a prominent sight in this area throughout the duration of the war. After the war the park was opened up for sporting use. The first club to be offered facilities at the park was Chichester RFC

1946 - Home ground established at Oaklands Park.

1947 - Post-war rugby starts to accelerate with an excellent playing record of 15 wins from 18 games in our first season.

1949 - A second XV is formed, winning 19 of their 29 games played.

1963 - A prefabricated clubhouse opens at the bottom of Oaklands Park.

1970 - A new clubhouse costing £13,000, designed by Peter Harrison, is opened by local MP Sir Christopher Chataway. The old clubhouse moves across the Park to the Archery Club (it is still in use today).

1975 - The Club’s Mini and Junior rugby section is founded by Ken Hopkins.

1976 - The clubhouse is extended, at a cost of £16,000, to accommodate the growing player base.

1976 - Derek Wyatt (ex Chichester 1st XV player) capped by England. Derek played for both Bedford and Bath.

1977 - A golden jubilee dinner is held at the Dolphin and Anchor.

1985 - John Breach scores 49 tries for the 1st XV (a club record). Scores 35 and 25 tries in following two seasons. 49 tries in one season remains a club record.

1987 - CRFC celebrates 60th anniversary with a dinner at the Dolphin and Anchor.

1987 - Leagues start and Chichester are placed in Sussex Division 1.

1990 - Chichester are promoted to London South East 3 after winning Sussex 1.

1992 - Simon Bradford capped by England A U18.

1994 - Women’s rugby starts at Chichester.

2001 - 1st XV play in the National Cup competition for the first time against Sutton and Epsom.

2001 - CRFC are relegated to Sussex 1.

2002 - CRFC win Sussex 1 and, led by their inspirational captain Ben Polhill, reach the final of the Sussex Cup losing narrowly to Worthing.

2002 - Youth and mini rugby continues to be a major success at all age levels. The 1st XV are promoted to London South East 4.

2002 - A 75th anniversary May Ball is staged in a marquee at Oaklands Park.

2003 - Danny Gray (CRFC 1989-1995) awarded first professional contract at Bristol RFC.

2003 - The Sussex Cup final sees Chichester lose an enthralling match to Haywards Heath after extra time by 39 - 32. Haywards Heath were in a much higher league at the time and shellshocked by the Chichester performance.

2003 - 1st XV win London South East 4 and are promoted to London South East 3.

2003 - CRFC awarded the RFU Seal of Approval.

2003 - 1st XV loose narrowly to Haywards Heath, who are promoted to the national leagues the following week!

2004 - A new balcony at the clubhouse is opened by the Mayor of Chichester, while the number of mini and junior players exceeds 250 for the first time.

2005 - 2007 - Vanessa Gray (CRFC years???) capped 28 times for England Women. Vanessa played her senior club rugby at Wasps.

2006 - Danny Gray (CRFC 1989-1995) tours New Zealand, Dubai, San Diego and Scotland with England 7s.

2007 - Numbers in the mini and junior section exceeds 300 and the club’s 80th Anniversary and 30th anniversary of the youth section is celebrated at Oaklands Park.

2008 - The holy trinity of Paul Colley, Mike Kent and Richard Isaac start building the next dynasty with an average 1st XV team age of 23, one of the youngest in living memory.

2009 - Charlie Mathews and Kieran Low (both CRFC 1999-2008) attend England U18 trials in a very cold January. All pitches were a foot deep in snow and ice so the trials were held on an all-weather facility used by Moseley RFC in Birmingham, no larger than a 5 a side pitch. Charlie selected for the England A U18 team.

2009 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) selected for Sussex, L&SE Divisional and England U18s. He scored on debut v Scotland, also beat Japan, Wales and Italy then went on unbeaten tour of South Africa in the summer. Signed professional contract with Harlequins. Coach Tony Diprose then sent him to Loughborough University “to get beaten up in National 2 North for a few seasons”

2009 - Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2008) joins London Irish RFC and goes on to play 70+ first team games before leaving in 2015.

2009 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) makes Harlequins debut v Newcastle Falcons in the LV Cup.

2009 - CRFC captained by Moses Kasujja win the Sussex Cup for the first time, beating Hove at Pulborough 22 - 19, and do the ‘double’ by winning London South West 3. There were some great scenes at Oaklands Park in their last home game, when the 1st XV beat Guernsey 40 - 21.

2011 - 1st XV win the Sussex Cup for the second time against East Grinstead with what many believe was the strongest ever Chichester 1st XV to take the field

2011 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) started every game for England U20s 6 Nations (Grand Slam) and Junior World Cup in Italy (lost to NZ in final). Played with Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2008) for a few of the 6 nations games

2011-2018 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) makes 163 Harlequins appearances, including 106 Premiership appearance (9,080 minutes, 8 tries, 3 Man of the Matches).

2012 - Rob Lawrence takes over as Head Coach.

2013 - Receive the Whole Club Seal of Approval from the RFU.

2013 - Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2008) capped by Scotland and makes test debut against Australia.

2014 - Chichester are promoted to National League 3 in the London South East Division, the highest level in the club’s history after beating Essex team Eton Manor in the playoff, in front of a huge home crowd. Victory by 25-16 came with the Blues led again by Polhill and the very last game for Moses Kasujja, who had run out first on the pitch to great applause.

2014 - Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2008) tours with Scotland to America, Canada and Argentina; starts at No. 8 in the win against Argentina. He plays for Scotland in the win against Tonga in the autumn internationals.

2014 - The legacy development begins to ensure rugby is provided for the next 90 years. The 1st XV finish in mid-table in their first season at National League level. The 2nd XV win the Sussex Bowl, beating Hove 25 - 0 in the final.

2014 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2009) plays for England Saxons against old Chichester teammate Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2009) who was playing from Scotland B at Glasgow Warriors’ ground. The match was drawn 16 - 16.

2014 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) capped by England XV v Barbarians at Twickenham.

2015 - The 1st XV enjoyed their first season in National 3 South comprising 14 teams from nine counties, stretching from Suffolk to Guernsey. It meant tough matches every week, against many semi-professionals, and involved long-distance travelling to away games. They finished seventh in the league, beating teams like London Irish Amateur, Guernsey and Bury St Edmunds at home and Tonbridge Juddians and Westcombe Park away.

2015 - The 2nd XV retain the Sussex Bowl, beating Brighton 34 - 24. The club narrowly fail to get in the Guinness Book of World Records with their “Longest Pass” attempt falling just short.

2015 - Chichester Pretorians take on the Royal Navy at Burnaby Road and run them close in a titanic battle.

2015 - Kieran Low (CRFC 1999-2008) has one season at Glasgow Warriors before joining Saracens in 2016. Plays against UK Armed Forces for Saracen Storm before retiring from professional rugby at the end of the season.

2016 - Jess Breach (CRFC 2005-2012) joins Harlequins Women, scoring many tries in her first 2 seasons in the new Women’s Premiership.

2016 - A 90th anniversary match is played against Portsmouth at Oaklands Park.

2016 - Injuries took a heavy toll in Chichester’s second season in National 3 but they finished tenth and took the scalps of Bracknell, Guernsey and Wimbledon among others.

2017 - Jess Breach (CRFC 2005-2012) scores 6 tries for England v Canada. Injured for the 2nd Test, she scores another 5 tries in the 3rd Test and was player of the match at Twickenham.

2017 - Chichester relegated from National 3. They had beaten strong opponents like Dorking, Shelford, Hertford and Westcombe Park and, in their best away display, they hammered Guildford 27 - 6.

2017 - Ben Polhill, Ben Robson, Ed Bowden, Ross Millar, and Tom Belcher capped for Sussex in the County Championship final at Twickenham.

2018 - The Oaklands Pavilion, home of Chichester RFC officially opened by England Roses’, Jess Breach.

2018 - 2020 - Charlie Matthews (CRFC 1999-2008) makes 28 appearances for Wasps.

2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic halts rugby at Oaklands for the entire season. The first full year without competitive rugby since 1947.

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