- 1870 Earlist record of rugby in Cornwall
- 1883 Cornwall Rugby Union formed in Truro
- 1884 Truro represented by GH Chilcott in first county matches
- 1897 First recorded match v Penzance, lost by a point!
- 1907 Truro City Rugby Club formed
- 1914-18 Great War
- 1922 Truro Rugby Football Club reformed
- !939-45 Second World War
- 1946 Rugby resumes
- 1947 Matches played at St Clements Hill
- 1950 2nd Team rugby starts
- 1952 Truro City offer Boscawen Park as club ground
- 1953 Club purchases St Clements Hill to be it's home ground
- 1957 Original clubhouse built New Pavillion opened
- 1961 Started using 2nds pitch
- 1963 Changing room facilities built
- 1965 First Club Tour to Germany
- 1972 Colts team first records
- 1982 Under 16 team established
- 1986 Mini junior section started
- 1993 Womens Team started
- 1994 Dennett, Hagan and Worrell; First women selected for county
- 2017 Reached semi final National Intermediate Cup
- 2018-19 Relegated to Duchy Cornwall and Devon League
- 2019-20 Re-established girls and women's rugby at Truro
- 2020 Truro promoted to Western Counties despite Covid outbreak
Timetable for a club social trip to Twickenham to see England versus Scotland. England won 26 - 8 on the day and went on to become Five Nation Champions.
Precisely when Truro Rugby Football Club was formed remains a mystery. Historical data indicates that some form of club or team existed as far back as 1884. Indeed, our first County Representative, one GH Chilcott, is recorded as having played in the Duchy’s first game against our arch-rivals Devon, on 12th January 1884. Furthermore, three more players from Truro represented he Duchy the following year. As late as 1897, the records will show that Truro played Penzance and lost by a single point. From this limited information, we can only assume that a club of sorts existed, and that from those humble beginnings, the Truro Club originated.
Despite the lack of official records, we can be sure that, irrespective of what happened between 1897 and 1906, a club known as the Truro City Rugby Club was formed in February 1907. It came about when the Working Men’s Club, better known as the Peoples Palace, decided that the city had the capacity and potential to form a representative rugby team. The team was formed and made its debut performance against Camborne on 23rd February 1907 – a game we duly lost by the score of 37pts to 3 pts!
Once again, it would seem that the lack of any official records between the 1908 and the Great War, would indicate that the club either played Junior rugby within the Duchy, or disbanded for a brief period. When the records recommenced, they show that Truro reformed in 1922, and have carried on playing “the game” ever since.
Furthermore, the records also show that the club had many “homes” over the years, before it was able to purchase our current ground, with financial assistance from the RFU (Rugby Football Union), at St Clements Hill in 1953.
During 1957, again with some financial help from both the RFU and the CRFU (Cornwall Rugby Football Union), the original clubhouse was built. In the early 60’s, a second pitch next door, was secured. This was just the stimulant required to further redevelop the Clubhouse. The end result was a clubhouse with four changing rooms and an enlarged social area. The club was well used by what was the most successful team in the club’s history – The Team of the 60’s!! Old stalwarts will recall the season we did the double over our old enemies Redruth, how times have changed now….! With the advent of third team and youth rugby, the club soon outgrew its facilities, the end result of was further redevelopment of the changing rooms and bar area. What transpired is the club we know today.
The recorded history of our club indicates that the game was, and always has been played for all the right reasons. It was there first, and foremost, to provide a facility for local people to participate in their chosen sport – rugby. Secondly, much as it is today, it has acted as a social centre for many of the City’s sportsmen.
Alan Murton of Goonhavern was born and raised in Truro and here he recounts his memories of sport in the city and how it came to be an important part of his life.
I was born into a sporting family. My father had boxed and played cricket but was past his playing days when I came along, my mother always knew the latest England Test score when he came home for dinner and my brother loved his sport.
I lived in Richmond Hill close to the Treyew Road grounds where soccer and cricket were played. My father worked on Saturdays, typesetting Monday’s “West Briton” so it was my grandfather who took me up Chapel Hill to watch my heroes until I was old enough to join friends behind the Penwethers Lane goal or spend the afternoon hanging numbers on the scoreboard beside the pavilion.
In 1944 at the age of eleven I won a scholarship to Truro School and entered a new realm of sporting opportunity, one I soaked up and enjoyed to the full.
There is a downside to my qualification to write on Cornish sport – academic success took me to university and a career up-country. I played my last game for Truro Rugby Club at Easter 1956 and my last game for Truro Cricket Club in July. It is a great memory that, dropped from the team to travel to Redruth, I became a late replacement, opened the innings and scored 50. I got out in a moment of euphoria only to catch a rocket – well justified – from Viv Percy our respected skipper. I cannot remember the result but I’m positive that we all enjoyed a beer or two when it was over.
I am aware that there are many better qualified to record the deeds of Cornish clubs and individuals. These are personal memories of growing up in the Cornish sporting arena. One thing is certain – the love of sport I acquired then has been a dominant factor in my life and I have reaped the rewards of lasting friendships and the fellowship that once was natural to all true sportsmen. I must declare my distaste for much that passes for sport in the modern world. I believe that I was lucky to be active as player, coach, referee and umpire, in the Duchy and up-country, at a time when we played for local pride and personal pleasure.
I saw my first game of rugby aged eleven. My grandfather took me to Treyew Road to see Cornwall play a Combined Services side. The war in Europe was over and servicemen posted to the Duchy had more time for rugby. Truro City AFC’s ground looked strange to me, H shaped posts replaced goal nets and were well forward of the soccer goal line. There was no rugby club in the city but after the war enthusiasts re-started Truro RFC, playing their matches at Boscawen Park before they moved to the ground at the top of St Clement’s Hill.
I remember little of that war time game though my grandfather did his best to explain what was going on. One plump and balding figure did register with me and was always in the action for Cornwall. S.M. (Sam) Mischler at scrum half had come out of retirement to prove that he could still take on the best. I came to know him later as the Headmaster of Truro Cathedral School and as a referee or a touchline enthusiast at the derby matches I played for Truro School against his pupils.
Soon after that treat at Treyew Road I was having my first lessons in Cornwall’s favourite game at Truro School. Sam Rhead ran the under 14 side in which I first made an impact. I was relatively short and tubby – “Built more for comfort than for speed” my father would have said – so I was predestined for the hooker’s job. It was a job I kept throughout my school rugby days and in my early outings with Truro. K.W.D. (Ken) James was coach and mentor to the first fifteen. A committed rugby man from Wales he was known and popular throughout Cornwall as a referee of distinction.
The school had invested in levelling much of their land in Trennick Lane into three terraces and all rugby matches were played there from 1949 onwards. We also trained there, after picking stones from the new turf, though by no means as rigorously as young and older players do today. I adapted my soccer skills to dribbling the ball and spent hours alone after school practising what has become a lost art in the game.
The laws of the game were different, a knock-on was a knock-on regardless of whether or not the ball was re-gathered without touching the ground, the ball had to be played with the foot after a tackle and sides could work the touchline, kicking the ball directly in to touch anywhere on the ground. Foot rushes and the “Wheel and take” were still in vogue and not the exclusive prerogative of the Scots. “Feet, Cornwall! Feet!” could be heard wherever the Duchy played. I played two years in the 1st XV and in the second (1951) our skipper Bill Badcock spent much of the game hugging the ball at the front of the lineout, we’d roll forward a few yards until the opposition forced him into touch so that we had the throw-in at the next lineout. Effective but not exactly exhilarating stuff!
It was in the Prefects’ Room at Truro School that I listened – unlawfully – to the dying minutes of the University match when John Kendall-Carpenter (an Old Boy) made his last-ditch tackle, corner-flagging like fury to take the Cambridge winger in to touch in goal and save the game for Oxford. I was fortunate afterwards to see him play many games for Cornwall and England.
Some of the school fixtures were played outside the county and on one trip to Plymouth Ken James brought two Royal Navy players to our coach, hitching a lift back to Devonport – they were the Welsh internationals Malcolm Thomas and Lewis Jones, who pulled on the amber red and black Cornwall jersey several times.
Once the rugby bug had got me I joined the crowds at as many county matches as playing commitments would allow. I can still remember the “Buzz” walking with the crowds from the station at Redruth, through the “Rec” and passing through the gate into our rugby Mecca. No matter how early we went from Truro the train always seemed to empty at the station, pouring its eager passengers on to the down platform.
We were rarely disappointed. Cornwall didn’t always win, and Gloucestershire were usually the party poopers but with players whose names were household names we were assured of entertainment. I was lucky that I watched Cornish rugby when it was full of gifted players. Many were capped for England and many should have been. I once saw the great wing forward Vic Roberts rip the ball from an unsuspecting fullback’s hands and touch down for a try. I watched Kennedy, a Rhodesian at Camborne School of Mines tearing down the wing, Bill Phillips of Redruth kicking goals that were “Still rising when they hit the road…” The names of many more come easily to mind 50 years on but I don’t have space to pay tribute to them all.
I was fortunate when on vacation from college to be selected for the Truro 1st XV and had some of my happiest rugby days with them – on and off the field. Brian Taylor was our skipper, not a particularly large man for a second row forward but he was difficult to take ball from in the lineout. Most of all I remember him as an inspiring leader of as keen a side as I’ve ever played for and I am still proud of my days there. Truro was a “Senior Club” in the days when the sole qualification for that status was the ability to raise two sides regularly. Each week we were on a hiding to nothing against clubs that had their smattering of County players and had been established for many more years than the post-war Truro club but not a man in the side would have swapped his Truro jersey to play for another town side.
Among my fondest memories was the day we won our first game against another senior club. Falmouth came to St Clements Hill. The pitch was hard, the game was harder and a final whistle never more welcome when we won by the only try of the game. Apocryphal history has it that I missed the score because I was wrestling on the turf with my opposite number. What? Me ref?
There was no rush that night for the twin galvanised “bungalow” baths that Bill Huddy had filled with hot water – we’d bathed in much muddier at Christmas and this was Christmas, Easter and Bank Holiday rolled in to one. The Swan Inn in Kenwyn Street was treated to joyful songs with a vengeance that night and mine host Fred Albon didn’t turn a hair.
Most of my friends played in the Truro side and those that stayed in Cornwall continued to play and work for the club for many years. As students we were grateful to be given games when we came home for holidays and to play with the stalwarts and characters of the club of which there were many. Bill Sawle was hooker and could be guaranteed still to be tying his bootlaces when the referee waved for the kick-off, Arthur Blake was Brian Taylor’s second row partner and the club owed him much on and off the field. Hilary (Dick) Jolly, who moved to the big city from Lanner, took more than his share of knocks at fullback but always came back for more, Bill Ward shuffled up and down the wing and Peter Boggia’s blond locks could be seen making tackles – what else do you have centres for?
We played against the best of Cornwall’s home-based players and I learned much from them and had the greatest respect for their skills. Of them all I still regard Harry Oliver of St Ives with awe. He must have been the best fly-half never to be capped for England, notwithstanding many trials at Twickenham. In 1955 I was an eager and fit young flanker & full of myself, my college having against all odds reached the semi-final of the Oxford University Cuppers and lost narrowly to a side that included P.G.D. Robbins, M.J.K. Smith, and the Winn brothers. Mike Smith didn’t give me half the run-around that Harry Oliver did, stepping off both feet and once I swear he jumped back to avoid my desperate dive and hurdled my frustrated body to set the line away.
Suffice it to say in conclusion that I maintained my interest in Truro and Cornwall Rugby throughout my exile, kept informed by the West Briton, which my mother sent me every week for 30 odd years and it’s good to be back where I belong…