When Alick Birkin returned to Nottingham from Rugby
School at the age of 16 in 1877, he gathered some friends around
him to form a rugby playing team.
This is generally regarded as the date of the formation of
Nottingham Rugby Football Club, although the earliest reports of
matches in the local press were published in 1885/86. The first
minutes of an AGM date back to 1898.
Alick Birkin, or Sir Alexander Russell Birkin to give him his
full title, maintained his active interest in the club until his
death in 1942. The Birkin family "were"Nottingham RFC - members of
the family being associated with the club from 1877 to 1956.
Without their commitment, the club would never have got off the
ground. Indeed, the ground at Ireland Avenue, Beeston, was given to
the club in 1904 by Leslie Birkin, brother of Alick. Ireland Avenue
remained the club's home until its sale in 2006.
The first changing rooms were built in 1929: prior to that the
players changed in the Victoria Pub. Misbehaviour, (surely not!),
caused their banishment to the stables, where a single domestic
bath had to cater for both teams. What would today's cosseted
players have made of that?
Throughout the first 75 years of its use, the ground at Beeston
was noted as a mud heap. It was part of the flood meadow of the
River Trent. The high water table made it difficult to drain and
the problems were exacerbated by alterations to the confluence of
the Trent and the Leen. Eventually these problems were overcome and
the club felt safe in spending £15,000 in drainage 20 years
V.H.Cartwright (14 caps) was Nottingham's first international
player between 1904 and 1906. He eventually captained England and
was a referee during his playing career before becoming a selector
and eventually President of the RFU. Sixty-one years later John
Pallant (3 caps) became Nottingham's second international. Other
international player include Dusty Hare (1-1974), Gary Rees
(23-1984-91), Rob Andrew (9-1985/86), Brian Moore (25-1987-90),
Chris Oti (2-1988) and Simon Hodgkinson (14-1989-91). Chris Gray
had 22 caps for Scotland (1989-91). Brian Moore is the club's only
British Lion, whilst playing for the club.
* Pictured above: Notts Rugby side of 1890. Pictured below:
Notts Rugby side of 1935. Caricature above from Nottingham Evening
News on Monday, September 27 1943.
LIST OF NOTTINGHAM RUGBY PLAYERS - 1877 TO
Nottingham Rugby Honours
National Merit Table A (RFU Level 1)
National Merit Table B (RFU Level 2)
National League Division 2 (RFU Level 3)
Midland Merit Table
National Knock-out Cup
Semi-final: 1983/84, 1990/91
National Knock-out Trophy
Semi-final: 2005/06, 2007/08, 2008/09
Midland Counties Senior Cup
Midland Counties Junior Cup
Runners-up: 1984/85, 1985/86
Noel Syson Cup (Notts, Lincs & Derbys
Winners: 1935, 1936, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1949, 1950, 1951, 1952,
1955, 1959, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1975,
1976, 1980, 1981, 1983