Sidmouth Rugby Club’s Devon success stories
- Credit: Sidmouth Rugby Club
In the Club’s 136-year history, Sidmouth Chiefs have won Devon RFU competitions nine times. This is the story of those successes.
For the first 116 years from the formation of the Rugby Football Union, only a small number of matches were played as part of a competition. The great majority of fixtures were what has become known as “friendlies”, despite the fact that the aim, for at least half of those taking part, was to inflict pain, by fair means or foul, on the opposition before making peace over a few shared beers.
To add spice to this diet of friendlies, cup competitions were introduced. Until 1971, these were organised by the constituent bodies, in Sidmouth’s case, the Devon RFU. In 1971, the RFU introduced a National Cup competition for which the county competitions were qualifying rounds before the top clubs joined in.
The Devon RFU was founded in 1881 and introduced Senior and Junior Cup competitions in 1886. The Senior Cup, for the bigger clubs, was played until 1932, when it was discontinued due to the increasing incidents of foul play and frequent disputes. The Junior Cup, for smaller clubs and 2nd teams, continued until 1957.
In 1969, a cup competition was resurrected as the Devon Cup, open to all clubs and all clubs took part, including Exeter and Plymouth Albion. In 1971, the Havill Plate was introduced for all clubs knocked out in the first two rounds.
In 1986, the competition was split into two again, Senior Cup and Junior Cup, with clubs divided according to their position in the league structure. The Havill Plate went with the Junior Cup and a new President’s Plate was introduced for the Senior Cup. With club playing standards becoming ever more polarised, an Intermediate Cup was introduced in 2009.
Coaches often see it as a distraction from the serious business of the league and players view cup match dates as an opportunity to go skiing or shopping. If, by some miracle the final is reached, usually because most other clubs have withdrawn, the competitive instincts of the players are suddenly revitalised.
Next week we start with the Devon Junior Cup.