UWA Rugby's History
"A match will be played between the newly formed University Club and the Claremont-Cottesloe No 2 team on Cottesloe Oval at 3pm tomorrow." The West Australian May 18 1929. And so it began, with this rather unassuming and inconspicuous note - the University Rugby Club had commenced.
The first University XV was led by Dick Calthrop, who was the Captain and Coach of this side while still a registered player with the Perth Club. Credit for forming the University Club can be given to Dick who personally recruited practically all the members, including John Lavan who he persuaded to become the first Secretary. As a player Calthrop was dominant and instrumental in encouraging the player's and Club's development. Despite the first official match resulting in, a 19 6 loss, several players, especially Honner, showed great promise.
It did not take long for the University side to taste victory, with a 14 0 result over Perth in a seven a side game the following Saturday and a 6 3 win against Cottesloe Claremont No 2 team on the Sunday. The Uni team was fit and well conditioned and learned enormously from each outing. Even at this early stage forecasts were being made as to the day when The University of Western Australia would be able to successfully challenge the universities of the Eastern States and New Zealand.
The 80 years of history will record University as a predominant force in Western Australian rugby union. Early years saw the Club bring many new players to the game, not relying on interstate or overseas players. The war years interrupted competition and several clubs could not survive this period. Uni, however, continued to play at a social level and ensured that the interest in the game continued. Some clubs folded but were reformed after the war.
The University had a policy that only Uni students could play in its teams. Thus, once their degrees were achieved, Uni men sought new clubs. The natural choice was Associates (originally formed as the University Associates) so then players were able to maintain their connection with the university in what became the basis of the great rivalry between the two clubs.
Uni players can be acknowledged for the development of the game in Western Australia, with Joe Lord and John Sofoulis instrumental in the establishment of Western Suburbs, Syd Mazzucchelli and George McLure involved in the development of Fremantle Boys and Perth Boys teams and Uni providing players to other clubs. Several clubs such as Nedlands, Cottesloe and Palmyra lost players to rugby league and some clubs even had stints in playing league before reverting to union. In all this time Uni remained intact and continued the rugby union spirit.
During its history, the Western Australian Rugby Union has played finals matches on University Oval, James Oval and Riley Oval, whilst touring sides have also been hosted on 'varsity grounds, including the interstate matches and an international fixture against none other than the New Zealand All Blacks.
To date, the University of Western Australia Rugby Football Club has won 46 Premierships, being runners up on 42 occasions and being Minor Premiers 47 times. These achievements are added to the Club's 15 Club Championship successes.
The first 80 years have been a period of leadership, development and success. Through the continued passion and appreciation of the game the University of Western Australia Rugby Football Club and its members will strive to retain UWA Rugby as the cornerstone of rugby in this State for years to come.
The Club has rung out these words win, lose or draw for decades. To the tune of "Bread of Heaven" the following typifies the spirit and ideals of UWA Rugby:
“We don’t play for adoration,
We don’t play for victory,
We just play for recreation,
Merry gentlemen are we.
Balls to (opponent),
Balls to (opponent),
We won’t play you anymore,
We won’t play you anymore.”