The club originally played in the later years of the 1800’s. When the Northern Union was created in 1926, York FC became York RLFC. York RUFC was formed in 1928 – an amalgamation of junior clubs and playing at a variety of locations until finding a ‘permanent’ home on a field behind The Woodman Inn in Bishopthorpe, a village on the outskirts of the city.
The ground was ploughed up to help the Second World War effort and any matches organised were played on a variety of pitches.
In 1946-47 York RUFC played on their ‘own ground’ – a pitch rented from York Corporation that was formerly a golf club and winning the Yorkshire Challenge Shield in 1948/49 when they beat Castleford 15-9.
In 1963/64, York RUFC won the Yorkshire Shield again, beating Hull Ionians 8-6. The club continued playing at Hob Moor until they moved in 1966 to a site along with York Cricket Club – Clifton Park. They were joined there by York Tennis Club and then York Squash Rackets Club.
The facilities at Clifton Park were a far cry from what had been available at Hob Moor, the initial build cost £19,000!
The club continued to progress, running five teams, including Colts, and were in the Yorkshire Shield Final once more in 1970/71, finishing as runner up to Driffield. The club won the Shield again in 1980/81 and 2006/07.
Progress in league rugby has seen the club have success and failure – winning promotion but then suffering relegation. In 2015, two former York RUFC players, Lee Denham and Ian Thomson, took over as coaches and the club has made great progress under their guidance. In 2017/8, the club finished as Champions of Yorkshire One
(Level 7) and were promoted to North One East. In 2019/20, the club again finished as Champions and will play (whenever!) in North Premier (Level 5) – the highest level that the club has reached.
The club also now have a York RUFC Women XV, also promoted in 2018/19, two Girls Teams and a Touch Rugby section. Each Sunday during the season sees around 400 juniors/minis training at the club.
Playing in North Premier will be a massive challenge for the club and one in which they are determined to succeed. The opportunity that has been earned over recent years is one that everybody wishes to see York RUFC take the next step.
In the last few seasons, York RUFC have built up a strong squad of local players. At all levels, there is an extremely high number of locally produced players who have grown up and developed together. The recent success is a testament to their commitment to York RUFC.
Last season, they were joined by player/coach Declan Cusack. Originally from Munster, he lives in York and has played his rugby at a high level. His coaching is always of a high intensity and his experience has rubbed off on all players at the club. The Junior Section hold an annual Junior Rugby Festival which attracts in excess of a thousand participants.
As the club continues to move forwards, plans are in place to make improvements to an already great venue to play and watch rugby.
The club are extremely fortunate to have a good number of sponsors who all wish to see the club progress and be part of the journey. Many of them have supported the club over several years and have become ‘part of the team’.
One of the recent additions to the club sponsors is York Mind – concentrating on Mental Health – during the Coranavirus pandemic, their work has taken on even more importance. York RUFC has worked to help raise funding for York Mind and York RUFC Women have recently completed more fundraising by running the equivalent distance of Clifton Park to Twickenham – and back!!
Progression is especially important to the club – not just at 1st XV level but for all teams throughout the club. Success for the 1st XV will benefit the whole club, encouraging players, sponsors and supporters. Work continues to ensure that all our three rugby pitches, plus a training pitch, remain at a high quality. This year, floodlights were also installed on the 2nd XV pitch, funded by the RFU and our Junior Section.
The club has excellent facilities already, but they can only be improved. York Sports Club which is the ‘parent body’ of all four sports clubs at Clifton Park, continues to expand its vision and become more important and relevant to the local community. As well as hosting their pre-match lunches, it provides a venue for slimming clubs, dancing tuition, business meetings, private dinners, property auctions as well as parties, celebrations and a tremendous wedding venue. The Sports Club also hosts a Summer Ball, Burns Supper and a music festival.