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Ironsides Rugby

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Ironsides Rugby (aka Battersea Ironsides RFC) is a local grassroots rugby union club, renowned for its hard rugby. Located in Earlsfield, just 7 miles from the center of London, Ironsides comprises largest combined (mini, youth and senior) club memberships in London.

Ironsides have 5 Senior XV's, Vets, Ladies, Girls U18s, Girls U15s, Minis & Youth[1] sections ranging from under 6 to under 18 age groups.

Ironsides RFC
Full nameIronsides Rugby Football Club
UnionMiddlesex RFU, Surrey RFU, EnglandEngland RFU
Nickname(s)Ironsides, Battersea Ironsides, Irons, BIRFC
Founded1943 as 'Royal Tank Regiment Cadets'
LocationEarlsfield, Wandsworth, London, England
Ground(s)Garratt Green
ChairmanEngland Rob Newman
PresidentEngland Richard Smith
Captain(s)Republic of IrelandColin O'Keefe (Club Capt.)
League(s)London SW 3
Team kit
Official website

Brief History[edit]

The club was founded in 1943 by Colonel E H St Maur Toope from members of the 42nd Royal Tank Regiment Cadet Battalion, located in the Borough of Battersea. In 1948, the title was changed to "Battersea Ironsides" and the club was opened up to players other than ex-Royal Tank Regiment Cadets.

Battersea Ironsides Junior Section was formed in 1995 by a group of parents with the aim of providing facilities for boys and girls between the ages of 4 and 18 to learn to play the game and develop their skills. Battersea Ironsides and Battersea Ironsides Junior Section were formally merged and incorporated in 2010 and renamed to "Ironsides Rugby" (Ironsides RFC Ltd), and are affiliated to the Rugby Football Union.

In 2016, Ironsides Ladies officially concluded their first season. and field two regular teams.


  • Ironsides Rugby is affiliated to the Surrey Rugby Football Union
  • RFU Club Accreditation[2] 2014 - 2018

Club Honours[edit]

  • 2015/16 Season
    • National rugby Awards - Means Team of the Year
  • 2014/15
    • National Junior Vase Champions[3]
    • London & SE Junior Vase Champions[3]
    • Surrey Shield[3]

International Representation[edit]

  • England
    • Kyle Sinckler[4] (Harlequins RFC[5], Lions[6])
  • Scotland
    • Darryl Marfo[7] (Edinburgh Rugby[8])
  • Pakistan

Netrugby (Rugby Netball)[edit]

Ironsides have had a long affiliation with the Netrugby League dating back to 1944

Community Projects[edit]

  • Wandsworth - Outstanding Contribution to Sport and Physical Activity, Nigel Taylor-Walker
  • HMP Wandsworth[11]
  • Quins Community Club of the Year 2015/16[12]

The Early Years (1943 - 1952)[13][edit]

1943 The First Games In the summer of 1943, members of the "A" Squadron 42nd Battalion, Royal Tank Regiment (Cadets) with headquarters at Clapham Junction took a "Rugger" ball down to the annual camp at North Park in Surrey, hoping to interest some of the boys in the game. The first match was played on the Streatham ground on 8th January 1944 against St Marks Youth Club, Croydon.[13]

The game was lost 9-25, St Marks scored 5 goals, all in the first half.

The inaugural season included several informal games and matches against other service teams as well as established clubs.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1943/44 5 0 5 0 27 96 -69


At the beginning of the 1944 winter season, the club, then known as 42nd Royal Tank Regiment Cadets XV were still struggling. Weak in fixtures, very green as regards playing capabilities, but full of enthusiasm. London and the Home Counties were still under sporadic bombardment, and although the VI "doodle-bugs" had almost ceased to trouble us, their place was taken by the V2 rocket. Founder Col E.H. Maur Toope recalls:

I can recall one game punctuated by the not too distant double "whoomp" of an intruding V2[14] from Holland. However, the game went on.

The first match against St Marks Youth Club from Croydon was drawn 6-6, and that against Phillips Sports Club XV at Berrylands lost 0-12. Next, the young squad met a representative London Sea Cadets side won 3-16.

On the 9 December 1944, meeting Phillips Sports Club for the second time, recorded the first win, 3-0 by a penalty kick. It was an occasion for celebration, and celebration it was. A successful lifting of the ban on intoxicating liquor served to cadets in the Home Guard Canteen at Clapham Junction Drill hall, to which most of the team returned, and thus the boys were introduced to the other reason for playing Rugger - a pint or two of the best!

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1944/45 9 3 4 2 39 67 -28

1945/46 In the 1945/46 season raising sufficient players to represent a team was a problem. The War was over but National Service continued, and one by one the older founder members left for their various depots returning when on leave to play the odd game. An unexpected infusion of new blood came from our regimental band, who encouraged by trombonist (and full-back) Alan Thomas turned out a scratch side of ten members to play the rest.

The Wanstead game was most notable in that Stan Leppard, much to his and everyone else's surprise, scored an "Obolenski[15]" try, starting from the right wing in his own "25" and scored by the left corner flag. In the previous game, his first, he found the going so strenuous and confusing that he almost gave up Rugger for good, and at half-time almost had to be bullied into continuing. But after his sensational try, he realised his speed and weight and never looked back.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1945/46 16 3 12 1 59 209 -150

1946/47 The 1946/47 season was one of expansion. At a London Fixture Exchange meeting in July, attended by representatives of London and Home Counties Clubs, fixtures of last season with Streatham, Osterly, Wanstead, and Esher were renewed. The squad also broke new ground with an opening game against Old Westcliffians, (Won 15-9) and arranged matches with the lower sides of leading clubs like Wasps, London Scottish and Sutton - as well as Old Merchant Taylors, Old Emanuell, Old Croydinians and Old Walcountians (fixtures which maintained for many seasons). Some of these games, unfortunately, were scratched during the unprecedented seven weeks of severe frost from mid-January to mid-March 1947. However we played 19 games with satisfactory results.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1946/47 19 9 10 0 107 133 -26

1947/48 The fifth season, 1947/48, was one of the most successful, with repeated fixtures of the previous season, and the edition of Exiles, Tonbridge Cols, Gravesend, Lyons "A", Old Colfeians and Old Blues, a total of 26 games. Some original players disappeared into the forces for a period but some others were coming back. For the first time points for exceeded those against. For the record:

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1947/48 26 10 15 1 245 240 +5

1948/49 During the 1948/49 season, we changed the title to Battersea Ironsides, thus maintaining the links with both the Royal Tank Regiment and the Borough. A committee was elected with Bert Bigmore as the Chairman. Col E.H. Maur Toope was elected President and relinquished the Captaincy, which was taken over by Bigmore.

The opening game on the 25th September 1948 was against Streatham "C" in which Battersea Ironsides were victors 18-3.

Battersea Ironsides 1st XV 1948/49

  • G Clues
  • Leppard
  • Cleall
  • Worthington
  • Burgess
  • R Clues
  • Goddard
  • Brown
  • Grover
  • Anstead
  • Bigmore (Capt.)
  • Thomas
  • Brodie
  • Anderson
  • Lipscombe

Memorable to all who took part in the game was the fog at Gravesend. When the team left Clapham Junction in the coach the day was dull and quite clear. At Gravesend, however, there was a dense fog and it was impossible to see the goal-posts from one end of the pitch to the other. Normally play would have been impossible, but Gravesend (and the referee) felt that under these conditions a game was better than sitting in the clubhouse. Ironsides exploited the conditions much better than their opponents, keeping the ball close, progressing in forward rushes that resulted in 2 tries by Bigmore, and an astounding penalty goal by Charlie Anderson.

A rumbustious evening followed and we crawled home through the fog-bound London, with Stan (Rusty) Russell, who started playing that season, lying along the nearside mudguard for most of the journey watching the curb.

The season was also notable for the fact that players turned out in similar jerseys. These were green with a pocket badge and the initials IRC which, with red stockings, gave much-needed uniformity.

This season included the first Club Dinner. This was at the "Fountain"[16] in Garratt Lane and I recall sitting at the top table flanked by various trophies including signal lamps and other impedimenta rightly belonging to British Rail, with the sign "Station Master" to my front. This was before Buffalo Horns were acquired.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1948/49 26 17 6 3 310 148 +162

1949/50 1949/50, Ironsides started this seventh season with amongst other things, a fixture card. This though not full at the start of the season, was to record thirty games played with a further eleven for the "A" side. Bert Bigmore was again Captain and Jimmy Goddard as his deputy, Ted Elford was Honorary Treasurer and Johnny Brown honorary Secretary.

The first ex-pat to play for the Ironsides was an Irish player Barry Twomey who had played for University College, Cork. Barry played quite a number of useful games for both the 1stXV and the "A" until he was crocked by a bad knee injury several seasons later.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1949/50 31 14 14 3 279 186 +93

1950/51 Season 1950/51, the eighth, Jimmy Goddard was selected Captain and R Lipscombe (Jesus) Vice-Captain. Amongst new opponents were a London Welsh side, St Thomas' Hospital "A", Horsham, Haslemere, and work teams Handley-Page and Power-Samos.

Season Played Won Lost Drawn For Against Diff
1950/51 26 17 3 6 192 82 +110

This article "Ironsides Rugby" is from Wikipedia. The list of its authors can be seen in its historical and/or the page Edithistory:Ironsides Rugby. Articles copied from Draft Namespace on Wikipedia could be seen on the Draft Namespace of Wikipedia and not main one.

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  13. 13.0 13.1 The Early Years (1943 - 1952): Memiours of Col E.H. Maur Toope (Unpublished)
  14. "The Story of the First V-2 Rocket Launch in Wassenaar, the Netherlands". Space Safety Magazine. 2014-02-17. Retrieved 2018-02-26.
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  16. [1]UK Pub History in London and the Home counties