St. George’s Hospital Medical School RFC is one of the oldest rugby clubs in the world having been founded in 1863. The side is notable for its long history, its participation in the oldest competition in rugby, the United Hospitals Cup, as well as having produced a large number of international players, especially in the sport of rugby's formative years.
St. George’s Hospital Medical School RFC was founded in 1863 for the students of the St. George’s Hospital Medical School. Despite its founding date, it was not one of the founding clubs of the rugby football union in 1871. The club saw its match list increase as there was an expansion in the number of clubs, and in 1867 the United Hospitals RFC was formed as a focal point for the London Medical Schools. This body instituted in 1874 the cup competition known as the United Hospitals Challenge Cup (also known as the Inter-Hospital Challenge Cup) and St George's was in the first final played on Wednesday 3 March 1875 at The Oval. The match predated by four years the first Calcutta Cup match and is the oldest cup competition in the game of rugby. The opponents were Guy's Hospital Football Club and was played in front of 400 spectators. Guy's, wore an orange and blue kit, and kicked the game off, whilst St George's wore green jersey, green shorts with brown socks. Guy's won but St George's got their revenge the next season. When this game was played matches were won by goals rather than points. A goal was a converted try, and tries themselves only value in the case of a draw in which case they would be counted up as the deciding factor. Guy's Hospital won the game by 1 Goal (a converted try) and 1 try to 2 tries. The records say that the three additional 'tries' were all defensive touch downs. The game was also notable for fielding 15 players per side at a time when all international matches, the Varsity Match, County matches and all other top level games were being played with 20 players per side and would continue to do so until 1877.
St George's went on to win the cup twice more, in 1880 and 1882. Notably, St George's also fielded 5 international players in the 1870s. However, after St George's triumph in 1882, they have never again won the competition, despite the fact that they have competed in the cup every year it has been played. The club then appears to have reached its zenith of achievement in the first two decades of its existence. Despite this, it is still in existence and in fact is the only one of the United Hospitals members that is in the same form as it was at inception, the other schools all having been through a series of mergers and in most cases renaming. This is due to George’s being the only remaining free standing medical school in the country. However, it is still able to field two competitive male rugby sides; as well a ladies team.
The team competes twice a week throughout the year and plays in the British University leagues, the Surrey league (as Georges-Mitcham although in the Surrey League simply known as Mitcham.) and the National Association of Medics Cup as well as the aforementioned United Hospitals Cup. They have won the Inter-Hospital Challenge Cup on three occasions, all within the first decade of the competitions:
The team reached the final of the competition during the 2010-2011 season, finishing Runner-up to Imperial College.
1Now part of Imperial College School of Medicine2Now part of King's College London School of Medicine and Dentistry3Now part of Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry4Now part of UCL Medical School Category