Manchester Rugby Club

Full name Manchester Rugby Club
Founded 1860 (1860)
Location Cheadle Hulme, England
Ground(s) Grove Park (Capacity: 4,000)[1]
Chairman Andrew Bridgman
Coach(es) James Beane, (Director of Rugby), Simon Ogdon (Senior Men's Head Coach), Bryan Fisher (Ladies' Head Coach)
Captain(s) Club Captain: Karl Higginson; First XV: James Brodie; Ladies: Suzi Hobday
League(s) South Lancs/Cheshire 1 Championship North 2 (Ladies)
Team kit
Official website

Manchester Rugby Club, founded as Manchester Football Club, was one of the first rugby union clubs in the world, having been founded in 1860, eleven years before the Rugby Football Union.

Home matches are played at Grove Park, Grove Lane, Cheadle Hulme, Stockport. The club has a Senior Men's section (1st XV, 2nd XV and 3rd XV), a Women & Girls section, and also Minis, Juniors and Colts (Manchester Academy). The club's home colours are red & white narrow hooped shirts, white shorts and red & white hooped socks. Away colours are navy shirts with red piping, navy shorts and navy socks.[2]


Although founded in 1860, Manchester actually first played in 1857, when the Gentlemen of Manchester and the Gentlemen of Liverpool came together to play a friendly game. Richard Sykes, a former Captain of Football at Rugby School set up the Manchester team and provided the ball. The game was advertised as 'Rugby versus the World' and some fifty players arrived to play. There is no record of the score, however it appears that five goals were scored and so there must have been a winner.

Liverpool FC, who later merged with St Helens RUFC to form Liverpool St. Helens F.C, came into being not long afterwards. It is not known why Manchester did not also form at this date but the Liverpool and St Helens clubs' merger in 1986 left Manchester as the oldest rugby club in the world.

From 1919 until 1968 the club's home ground was at Moor Lane on Kersal Moor, now the home of Salford City Football Club.[3]

Manchester had very strong links with the early RFU, with two former presidents of MFC also taking the same office as President of the RFU (James MacLaren 1882-1884 and Roger Walker) 1894-1896. Other members who have been President of the RFU are J.W.H.Thorpe (1898-1900), James Milnes (1934), J.Reg.Locker (1967) and Dr.T.A.Kemp, MD, FRCP (1971).[4]

The club has provided a number of international players since 1871 (4 England players in the world's first ever international match against Scotland that year), including Albert Neilson Hornby, the first ever player to captain England at both rugby and cricket.The earliest international jersey is still on display in the clubhouse.

Manchester FC were also the first recognised soccer side in Manchester, and they competed in the FA Cup before any of the region's other sides.[5] In 1894 Newton Heath (present day Manchester United) were banned from changing their name to Manchester FC by the FA and RFU because of the existence of the rugby side.[6] The full story of Manchester FC's association football history is detailed in Manchester A Football History where it is revealed they hold many Mancunian firsts. They were also the first English club side to play competitively in Scotland when they faced Queen's Park F.C. in the FA Cup in 1883-4[7]

Club honours

Members who have been President of the RFU

James Maclaren 1882-84

Roger Walker 1894-96

J. W. H. Thorpe 1898-1900

James Milnes 1934

J. Reg. Locker 1967

Dr. T. A. Kemp, MD, FRCP 1971

International players

E - England S - Scotland I - Ireland W - Wales NZ - New Zealand F - France A - Australia England international unless name prefixed

H. J. Turner S 1871

A. S. Gibson S 1871

W. McLaren S 1871

R. R. Osborne S 1871

J. S. Genth S 1874/75

R. Walker S 1874/76/79/80 I 1875

W. H. Hunt S 1876/77 I 1876/78

A. J. Bulteel I 1876

E. E. Marriott I 1876

(S) D. Drew E 1871/1876

W. Gregg S 1876 I 1876

R. Todd S 1877

T. Blatherwick I 1878

A. N. Hornby S 1877/78/81/82 I 1877/78/80/81/82

F. D. Fowler S 1878/79

W. E. Openshaw I 1879

(I) J. Heron E 1879 S 1877

H. C. Rowley S 1879/80/81/82 I 1879/80/81/82 W 1881

W. R. Richardson I 1881

J. W. Schofield I 1880

R. Hunt S 1881 I 1880/82 W 1881

J. T. Hunt S 1881 I 1882/84

(W) C. P. Allen E 1884 S 1884

F. T. Wright S 1881

J. H. Payne S 1882/83 I 1883/84/85 W 1883/85

C. Anderton NZ 1889

F. A. Leslie Jones IW 1895

(I) D. C. Woods S NZ 1889

(S) J. E. Orr E 1890/91/92/93 I 1889/90/91/92/93 W 1890/91/92

E. F. Fookes S 1896/97/99 I 1896/97/98/99 W 1896/97/98

(S) C. J .Fleming E 1896 I 1896/97

A. O. Dowson S 1899

(S) H. Rottenburg E 1899/1900 W 1899/1900 I 1897

Capt. E. I. M. Barrett S 1903

Leonard Haigh S 1910/11 I 1910/11 W 1910/11 F 1911

F. G. Handford SIWF 1909

C. S. Williams F 1910

(I) Dr.T. Smyth E 1908/09/10/11/12 W 1908/09/10/11 S 1908/09/10/11 F 1910

J. A. Schofield W 1911

(I) W. J. Cullen E 1920

G. S. Conway S 1920/22/23/24 I 1920/22/23/24 W 1922/23/24/27 F 1920/21/22/23/24 NZ 1925

(S) R. S. Simpson I 1922

(S) A. L. Gracie I 1921/22/23 E 1921/22/23 W 1921/22/23 F 1921/22/23/24

B. S. Chantill WESF 1924

(S) Dr. A. C. Gillies E 1924/25/27 I 1924/27 W 1924/25/26/27 F 1925/26/27

P. H. Davies I 1927

G. S. Wilson WI 1929

Dr. T. A. Kemp W 1937/47 I 1937 S 1938 A 1947

T. F. Huskinson S 1936/38 W 1936/37/38 I 1936/37/38

(S) A. H. Drummond WI 1938

R. S. L. Carr WIS 1939

C. B. Holmes S 1947 I 1948 F 1948/1955

H. Scott F 1955

(I) Fr. J. M. Cunningham E 1955 F 1955/56 S 1955/56 W 1955/56

A. B. W. Risman W 1959/61 I 1959/61 S 1959/61 F 1959/61 A 1961

N. J. Drake-Lee W 1963/64/65 I 1963/64 S 1963 F 1963 NZ 1964

D. W. A. Rosser W 1965/6 ISF 1965

(I) B. J. O’Driscoll FESW 1971

(I) J. O’Driscoll S 1978/80/81/82/83 A 1979 E 1980/81/82/83 F 1980/81/82/83 W 1980/81/82/83

(I) M. Moylett E 1988

Notable players

Captains of Manchester Football Club

1860/67 R. Sykes 1868 W. Maclaren 1869/70 W. Grave 1871 J. McLaren 1872/79 R. Walker 1880/81 A. N. Hornby 1882 J. W. Schofield 1883 E. Storey 1884 J. E. Fletcher 1885/87 J. D. Wormaid 1888 F. A. Andrew 1889/90 A. H. Molesworth 1891/92 G. N. M. Cameron 1893 D. C. Woods 1894 W. B. Steel 1895 K. P. Birley 1896 W. Parlane 1897 W. G. Hogg 1898 W. Parlane 1899 T. A. Kingscote 1900 G. Cookson 1901/03 F. J. Milne 1904 J. Milnes 1905 V. P. Gamon 1906 F. I. Dixon 1907/08 J. Hunter 1909 H. Whitehead 1910 L. Haigh 1911 H. E. Latham 1912 J. Tolson 1913 T. Entwisle, J. C. Barrett 1919 G. Folds 1920 W. Sutcliffe 1921 G. Folds 1922 W. M. Hoyle 1923 H. S. Jones 1924 D. Peak 1925/27 A. L. Gracie 1928/29 Dr. A. C. Gillies 1930 L. J. O’Reilly 1931 H. C. S. Jones 1932 F. Hughes 1933/35 T. A. Bell 1936 J. M. Lee 1937/38 T. A. Bell 1939 J. M. Lee 1945 G. W. Singleton 1946/48 A. G. Komrower 1949/50 P. G. Clemence 1951/53 A. Ferguson 1954/55 P. T. Baines 1956 D. Stewart 1957 J. E. Cooper 1958 P. Batten 1959 G. D. Parker, H. Scott 1960/62 K. Jones 1963 G. St. J. L. Goddard 1964 P. D. G. Ross 1965/66 Dr. J. B. O’Driscoll 1967 M. Wright 1968 E. A. Wright 1969 W. J. Chadwick 1970 D. A. Hancock 1971 R. J. K. Newitt 1972 N. P. G. Ross 1973/74 C. R. Unsworth 1975 J. R. Gadd 1976 J. Wharton 1977 P. Jarvie 1978 G. Hughes, L. Sampson 1979 L. Sampson 1980 C. Hanson 1981 S. Bell 1982 S. Burnage 1983 D. Cotter 1984 G. Stewart 1985 S. Litster, G. Birch 1986 G. Birch 1987 R. Smith 1988/94 D. A. Kelly 1995 A. S. Hanson 1996 N. Hitchen, S. Swindells 1997/98 S. Swindells 1998/2000 S. Swindells 2000 G. Gerrard 2001/02 D. Mukalt 2002/03 A. Aylesbrook 2003 M. Armstrong 2004 M. Armstrong 2005 J. Bramhall 2006 J. Bramhall 2007 J. Bramhall 2008 N. Flynn 2009 J. Doney, D. Carlton 2010 D. Carlton 2011 D. Carlton 2012 R. McCartney


  2. Manchester Rugby Club
  3. Inglis, Simon (2004). Played in Manchester. English Heritage. p. 37. ISBN 1873592787.
  4. Manchester Football Club 125th Anniversary Book by Len Balaam
  5. James, Gary. Manchester A Football History, pp 35–39
  6. James, Gary. Manchester A Football History, pp 28–30
  7. James, Gary. Manchester A Football History (James Ward, Halifax), 2008, ISBN 978-0-9558127-0-5
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