Petersfield Rugby Football Club was formed in 1927, at the instigation of Frank Guy, a former pupil of Churchers College, with which the Club still enjoys an excellent relationship. Affiliated to the Hampshire Union in the same year, the Club quickly became a focus for both sporting and social activity. In that first year, its vice-presidents included five doctors, two clergymen and two ladies!
Almost immediately, Petersfield’s by now long-held reputation as a highly hospitable venue was established. The Club minutes refer to a number of dances and the first dinner is worthy of note as “… it was unanimously agreed that the speeches and songs should be intermixed”. The Club continued to grow and at the end of 1928 had 60 members, 25 playing.
By 1934 the Club was running two teams and gained its first county honour when G. E. Twine was capped to play against Kent, (Hampshire won 6-3). In those days players were “carded” the post being sufficiently rapid and reliable to ensure that players were aware that they had been selected for the next match.
In 1938 the Club changed its colours to its well-known scarlet and white hoop and, for the first time, introduced training in the form of PT classes at the Churchers College gym. Also in that year, Mr. K. Gammon is minuted as having “bought an additional bath for 1/6d” (as a cost comparison a bar of soap was 3d at the time). The Club was by then playing on a field at Bell Hill and older members recall driving cattle from the pitch and removing certain offensive deposits before play could commence.
The AGM for the following year, was scheduled for early September 1939 but owing to an interruption and some unpleasantness with the Boche, was not held until 21st August 1946. Although the Bell Hill ground had been ploughed up during the war, the first match was played in February 1946.
The Club affiliated itself to the Rugby Football Union in 1948 and in that year moved to Love Lane. It was now able to get back to running two teams. Post-match facilities were provided formerly at the Volunteer Arms (later the Welcome Inn) at 1 Station Road and then latterly at the Red Lion on College Street.
The changing rooms at the Volunteer Arms backed onto a coal-yard, the manager of which was a Vice-President of the Club. It’s no real surprise to learn, therefore, that the Club became very popular as one of the few venues with a plentiful supply of hot water, with the boilers being well stoked on a Saturday morning.
After moving from the Arms, the Club occupied a back room at the Red Lion for many years. This was another attractive venue for other Clubs, even those who weren’t playing Petersfield who found it the ideal place to break the journey when travelling up or down the Portsmouth – London road.
As the Club grew, it became clear that it needed a more permanent home in town. Plans were well advanced to build the Club at Love Lane when the Town Council decided to develop Penns Place. That momentous decision saw the Club move from playing on three pitches dotted around the town to its home at Penns Place in 1979.
The next big step came in 1989 when the Club celebrated the opening of its two-storey clubhouse by none other than founding father, Frank Guy, and a special celebratory match between a Petersfield XV and (Scotland International & British Lion player) Derek White’s Invitation XV.
The Club has gone from strength to strength with the move to these playing fields and the development of the Youth Section, and it is proud of the fact that it provides rugby for an age range of 6 to 60. The senior playing strength is some 80-players, and there are upwards of 450 Mini, Youth and Colt playing members. Parents, and non-playing members, including Vice-Presidents, (who are a vital part of our Club), make up the rest of the membership which overall, represents a true cross-section of our community.