Smallest Club in the World
Real rugby is as much about muddy Sundays in the park as winning the Rugby World Cup. Find out what happened when Land Rover visited a tiny local club Racal Decca.
As the rain and wind lashed down on the South of England on Sunday, players from Racal Decca RFC – the world’s smallest rugby club – might have been forgiven for giving their fixture a miss.
But of course they didn’t. These are the players who play for the love of the game, whose dedication and drive to get out there and take part – on dubious pitches, in sodden conditions, without a fan in sight – is the heart and soul of rugby.
On Sunday, their grassroots passion was rewarded in an extraordinary way.
Our visit to the world's smallest rugby club
“Today has been a fantastic and enjoyable reminder to me and all the players involved of the true heart of the Game. It was great fun to lend a hand and reward these two special teams.”
At Land Rover, we support all levels of the game. We believe real rugby is built from the ground up – and every local club has a unique and uplifting story to tell. Ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015, we’ll be bringing as many of these stories as possible to the global stage. This year, #WeDealInReal.
Take southwest London’s Racal Decca RFC, the world’s smallest rugby club. They’ve operated a one-team club for 56 years, bringing together players aged from 17-70. This is a team so small they don’t even have a regular home: no clubhouse, changing rooms or even a pitch to call theirs.
We thought they could do with a hand, so we rounded up some of the biggest names in rugby and took them along to Racal Decca’s match against rivals Streatham Croydon 3rds. Former Ireland back Shane Horgan was orange duty, current England player Mike Brown was a waterboy, and former Australian international Matt Giteau took kicking tee duty.
With 50mph gales gusting across the pitch and the rugby stars watching on, would Racal Decca be able to deliver?
The world’s smallest rugby club put the first points on the board in the 9th minute, as their fly-half displayed the kicking composure that was tee carrier Jonny Wilkinson’s trademark.
Streatham Croydon responded with a spell of pressure, and were rewarded for their good play when their winger finished off a well-worked move to score in the corner. But as the first half ended, Racal Decca winger George Cracknell latched on to a lovely chip over the top to score, with the subsequent conversion making it 10-5 at the half.
During the break, New Zealand’s Brad Thorn and Ireland’s Shane Horgan were on hand to serve the half-time oranges. Meanwhile, England heroes Sir Clive Woodward and Will Greenwood both gave rousing team talks to Racal Decca and Streatham Croydon 3rds respectively. Whose would make the difference?
After the restart, Racal Decca soon scored two further tries, making it 22-5. But Streatham Croydon refused to give up and rallied with their second try of the afternoon. A spirited comeback seemed like it might be on the cards – though it wasn’t to be. Despite conceding a late try, Racal Decca added another penalty and try of their own, resulting in a final victorious score of 32-15.
At the final whistle, both teams shook hands and were clapped down a tunnel consisting of World Cup winners, test match stars and renowned rugby internationals – a fitting end to a match played in the finest spirit of dedication and sportsmanship.
“Passion and commitment are the very foundations of the game of Rugby and Racal Decca are testament to that continued devotion to the sport. It has been an honour to be part of today’s event and remember what makes grassroots rugby so special.”
The game was a trip down memory lane for our rugby stars, reminding players like Shane Horgan of his early days. “[Local games] bring you back to when you first started, playing for the love of the game,” Horgan said. “This is where rugby lives and dies”. Meanwhile, Brad Thorn enthused “it’s been a fantastic day – you can’t beat grassroots rugby.”
With most of the action over, Racal Decca captain Sean Phelan reflected on the experience of a lifetime: “A mad but amazing day…best day in my rugby life, and a day I’ll never forget.”
“Grassroots rugby taught me the values of hard work, enjoyment and humility.”
LAND ROVER AND RUGBY IN 2015
Our day at the smallest rugby club in the world is over, but our support for grassroots rugby continues.
We’ve partnered with Lewis Moody to search for Rugby World Cup 2015 mascots at our Land Rover Premiership Rugby Cup youth tournament. We’ll also be giving rugby fans all over the country a chance to see the Webb Ellis Cup on our domestic trophy tour.
Be sure to follow our progress and support for grassroots rugby using #WeDealInReal.