Hull Ionians Today
Hull Ionians RUFC is based at Brantingham Park and provides rugby for both senior, junior and women players. The 1st XV play in National 1, the third tier of the English rugby union system, following promotion from National 2 North again last season.
The new clubhouse opened in September 1995 and has since established itself as one of the leading venues for business and social functions in the area. The popularity has grown due to the friendliness, the high standards set by the team and the quality of the club facilities.
This web site contains all the information on rugby, contacts and other events at the club and is updated regularly.
History of Hull Ionians
Hull Ionians was formed in 1989 following the merger of Hull and East Riding with Ionians. League rugby had started two seasons earlier with Hull and East Riding playing in North One and Ionians in Yorkshire Three, six levels lower at that time.
At this stage Hull and East Riding were down to a small 1st XV squad without ownership of their own ground or clubhouse. Ionians owned their ground and clubhouse had a thriving mini/junior section that was developing many excellent young players, but a first team that required more experience in order to retain them. The merger was therefore a perfect arrangement.
The merger was greatly assisted by the C-CAT Cup staged at Ionians Elloughton ground the previous season. Ionians made an early exit from this sponsored mid-week competition and gave full support to their prospective new members who went on to win the competition and the first set of shirts in the new club colours. The plans for the move to a new ground, literally over the fence in Brantingham, evolved at this time, moving to the ground in 1994 with the Brantingham Park Club house opening in 1995.
Hull Ionians remained in North One until gaining promotion to National 3 North in 2002 via the play-off route, at last ending their record of being the longest serving original member of North One. Unfortunately they came down again the next season primarily because the squad was not big or experienced enough to withstand numerous injuries. The 2004/5 season saw Hull Ionians again gain promotion via the play-off route. This time with a more experienced and bigger squad, under the experienced coaching duo of Mick Watson and Steve Townend, after taking a few games to settle they have established firm foundations from which to build, having finished mid table in each of the next 3 seasons. In 2009 Stephen Townend took on the role of Director of Rugby as well as backs coach, then in the 2010/11 season Mick Watson decided it was time to hand over after 8 great years and Simon Jenkins became Club/Forwards Coach and Oli Marns the backs coach, both moving away at the end of 2011/12. In 2011 Gary Pearce joined the club coaching team, becoming Head Coach for the 2011/12 Season. 2012/13 proved a record breaking season for the club and at the last match of the season they needed a bonus point win to be league champions, which they did in style with a 50-7 victory over Caldy, thus winning National 2 North and promotion to National 1 for the first time ever for an East Yorkshire club.
The foundation stone was a strong finish the previous season that took them clear of relegation which encouraged a few key players to join the club. Hard summer training ensured fitness and confidence brought its rewards as Hull Ionians won their first 10 league matches to sit second in the league behind Stourbridge, a position they held until the last match of the season. November saw two away defeats at Caldy and Stourbridge, but after that their confidence grew week by week, never losing again, a record setting sequence of 17 consecutive league victories and a whole season unbeaten at home.
Unfortunately, National 1 proved a big step for the club and only 3 victories saw them return to National 2 North at the end of the season.
They retained much of the squad and were determined to try again with Alex Crockett as Head Coach for 2014/15 and Dave Butcher as forwards coach. The club once again won National 2 North to gain promotion back to National 1. Hull Ionians performed much better in National 1 for 3 seasons from 2015 to 2018 winning a third of their matches, but in 2017/18 the controversial ability of other clubs to borrow up to 10 Premiership Club players saw the team back in National 2 North again for 2018/19. 2018/19 saw them win 23 of their 30 matches and again win this league to return to National 1 again for 2019/20.
Hull and East Riding
Hull and East Riding were formed in 1901 but before that apparently have links as Hull that go back to at least 1875 when I. Hutchinson was the club's first International player. The exact sequence of events between 1875 and 1901 is not clear but it is believed the original Hull Rugby Club was part of the original Rugby League break away in the 1890s and those that still wanted to play amateur Rugby Union reformed the Hull club in 1901. Whether it was Hull FC or Hull KR (who like Riding also played in Red & White) we have not found out. Hull & East Riding have played at various locations moving from Goddard Avenue to the circle in 1972, before the introduction of a league structure in 1987 forced the need for a senior club to own its premises and control its bar income. In the early 1970s Hull Spartan Rugby Club had merged with Hull and East Riding and for the next two decades the club 2nd XV was known as Hull Spartans.
Hull and East Riding historically were one of the top teams in Yorkshire frequently providing many players to the County Team and also providing several International Players, the last one being Roger Sangwin who played for England and the Barbarians in 1963-64.
In the summer after the merger the Hull & East Riding 3rd XV asked if they could reform Hull & ER (1989) to play as Riding at the circle, which Hull Ionians agreed to in order to keep more clubs alive in the area, and to help them they were given last season's Riding Shirts.
Ionians RUFC was formed in 1926 at a meeting at 37 Marlborough Avenue, Hull, interestingly enough from a local viewpoint as a break away group from Old Hymerians, who in 1995 merged with the recently created Hull & East Riding(1989) group who had stayed at the Circle, to form Hull RUFC. The historians in the group chose the name Ionians from the ancient all conquering tribe based in the Greek Islands.
After playing at various venues they leased a ground at Dunswell north of Hull in 1932 before purchasing the land at Elloughton in February 1961. Initially the only buildings were rather spartan, changing rooms in corrugated iron buildings, which later became the kitchen, with meetings in the local hostelry. This all changed in 1963 when the Elloughton Club house was opened with a lounge bar and improved changing rooms added over the next two decades. This clubhouse was demolished when the Elloughton ground was sold for building houses that funded the roll over move to Brantingham that retained the existing 3rd team pitch in Brantingham Park.