Why Bognor RFC
Rugby for under 6's through to over 60's.
Bognor Rugby Football Club was originally formed in 1922 and was called Bognor and Chichester Rugby Club. Games were played at Fish Lane, Pagham and at Felpham, near the George Public House.
A seaside resort was developed by Sir Richard Hotham in the late 18th century on what was a sandy, undeveloped coastline. It has been claimed that Hotham and his new resort are portrayed in Jane Austen's unfinished novel Sanditon. The resort grew slowly in the first half of the 19th century but grew rapidly following the coming of the railway in 1864. In 1929 the area was chosen by advisors to King George V which led to its regal Regis suffix, by royal consent, hence why Bognor RFC is not Bognor Regis RFC. Butlin's has been present in the town since the early 1930s when an amusement park and zoo were opened. A holiday camp followed in 1960 and this has more recently moved towards hotel accommodation with modern amenities .
Fixtures were ceased in 1939 because of the Second World War. When rugby commenced in 1946 it did so in Chichester and the rugby players were quite reluctant to travel from the Bognor area to play their rugby and not surprisingly the Club was called Chichester Rugby Club.
The energy to reform a rugby club in Bognor came from within Bognor Cricket Club.
In 1964 the Cricket Club became aware that if they used their facilities all the year round, it would generate more income and offer another sport to the town. The Cricket Club had a Yorkshireman playing for them who was an enthusiastic rugby league man, called John Norris.
John went to the local school, which was then the William Fletcher School and found a group of school boys that not only were enthusiastic to play for Bognor, but they were not short of ability. They also brought along friends from other schools.
John Norris set about organising fixtures for the 1965/66 season and if fixtures were not available on Saturday, they were arranged for Sunday and opposition from London was tempted down from London Hospitals. By 1967 they had enough players for a second side and by 1969 a third team was added with considerable success.
A forth team was added in 1975, known as the Bognor Buccaneers, and again produced enjoyable rugby and of course strengthened the Club, being a mixture of veterans and youth.
In 1976 the Junior Section was formed and from modest beginnings has grown and become the backbone of the club.
Justin Fitzpatrick started his rugby career in the under 8's and played for Dungannon FC, Ulster and Ireland, with 16 caps for Ireland so He now coaches USA forwards and is Houston Sabrecats Head Coach.
Paul Curtis was a “colt” in 1974 when he commanded a place in our first team aged 14 before playing for England Colts, Roslyn Park, Harlequins and England "B". Paul had survived countless collisions on the rugby field. But on an ill-fated day of autumn 2016, he lost control of his mountain bike while descending the Abergavenny Cycling Trail and found himself hitting a tree-trunk. He broke his neck, damaged his spinal chord, paralysed half of his right diaphragm and wrecked half of his right lung. Bognor RFC along with his other clubs have raised over £150,000 for adaptations to his home.
There were many "growing pains" being experienced at what had become Bognor Cricket and Sports Club, where hockey and squash had been added to the organisation. The Rugby Club was unable to play home fixtures until October and fixtures had to be complete by the end of March. The one pitch at Hawthorn Road was a major problem with a growing junior section and four senior sides.
In 1992 Arun District Council was keen to relocate sports to specific locations in the town. The ground at Hampshire Avenue was offered to Bognor Rugby Club, with enough space for three pitches. The Rugby Club converted football changing rooms and a public toilet into the Clubhouse we enjoy today.
In recent years the changing facilities have been expanded to accommodate women and increase accessibility. The junior and the youth section remain very successful and the club continues with 3 senior sides.