Barnstaple RFC

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Barnstaple Rugby Football Club
Barnstaple RFC.png
UnionDevon RFU
Founded1877; 143 years ago (1877)
LocationBarnstaple, Devon, England
Ground(s)Pottington Road (Capacity: 2,000 (575 seats))
ChairmanIan Stanton
PresidentTrevor Edwards
Coach(es)England Bryn Jenkins & Jake Murphy
Captain(s)England Winston James
League(s)South West Premier
2019–20Champions (promoted to 2020–21 National League 2 South)
Team kit
Official website

Barnstaple Rugby Football Club was established in 1877 and is a rugby union club based in Barnstaple, Devon.[1] The club's first team play in South West Premier, the fifth tier of the English rugby union league system, following relegation from National League 2 South at the end of the 2017-18 season. The club colours are red and white and their nickname is Barum.[2]

The first team are called the Chiefs, and there are also 2nd and 3rd teams (Athletic and Buccaneers), a number of youth teams from under-7s to under-18s (colts), and a girls side. The clubs rivals are Bideford RFC, with an annual festive fixture played between the sides that attracts good crowds, despite the clubs currently playing in different divisions.

Main stand and club-house at Pottington Road, home of Barnstaple RFC
View from main stand showing smaller stand opposite (training pitches are also visible)


Barnstaple Rugby Football Club was officially founded in 1877 at a meeting held at the Fortesque hotel. The first Chairman of the club was Mr W. A. Bilney, the first captain Mr W. H. TOLLER, and games in the early days were played at Rumsam. The club won silverware in 1894 when they claimed the Devon League Cup, becoming one of the strongest clubs in the county, forming a rivalry with Devonport Albion, and producing two international players for England - Charlies Harper and Charles Thomas. During the 1896-97 season Barnstaple were crowned 'Champions of the West' and claimed notable victories against the likes of Llanelli and Saracens. In 1921 Barnstaple moved from Rumsam to the clubs present Pottington Road Ground at Pottington Road.[3]

With the advent of the leagues in 1987, Barnstaple found themselves placed at tier 6 of the English rugby union league system in what was then known as South West 2. By the mid-1990s the club had achieved promotion to South West 1 where they would remain for over a decade. During this period they also became one of the top club sides in Devon winning five county cups in this period, including four in a row between 1998 and 2002. This period of success came to an end when Barnstaple suffered consecutive relegations to fall to the lowest level in the club's history so far, dropping to Western Counties West (tier 7) by 2005. Thankfully, the club quickly righted itself and three seasons (and two promotions) later found themselves back in South West 1. This climb back up the leagues also coincided with repeated Devon Cup success, with four titles won in a row between 2008-11. In 2007, Jerry Collins, former New Zealand captain, played a game for Barnstaple's 2nd team while visiting family in the Devon town, and later wore the club's socks when playing for the Barbarians against South Africa on 1 December 2007.[4]

Barnstaple stabilised itself in tier 5 as it became known as National League 3 South West. The club continued to play in this division up until the 2015-16 season when they won the promotion play-off game away at Tonbridge Juddians, reaching National League 2 South, which at tier 4 was the highest level reached in the club's league history to date.[2] In 2016-17 Barnstaple finished 14th of 16 teams in the division, but were reprieved from relegation by the collapse of London Welsh in the RFU Championship. Barnstaple recorded 9 wins and 1 draw from 30 games, despite having lost 7 of their first 8 games of the season, as they struggled to adjust to the higher standard of rugby in the national leagues. The end of this season saw the retirement of veteran loosehead prop Mark Berry, who debuted during the Devon Cup winning season of 1998.

In 2017-18 Barnstaple again finished in 14th place, this time being relegated to (the newly named) South West Premier.[5] Relegation came despite Barnstaple winning 10 games and drawing one, meaning they recorded more wins than each of the two teams placed immediately above them. A lack of try bonus points proved costly, as did the home defeats to Cinderford and Chinnor, who finished first and second in the league respectively. In both games Barnstaple led after 80 minutes were played, but lost to last minute scores by the visitors. The season was also notable for including the 250th first team appearance of captain Winston James and the 200th for Will Topps.

Back at level 5 of the RFU's pyramid in 2018-19, Barnstaple bounced back well and finished the season in second place behind champions Bournemouth. This qualified Barnstaple for another promotion play off, this time played in Essex at Westcliff RFC. However, the trip was not a fruitful one, with a depleted Barnstaple side losing heavily. [6]. Barnstaple did lift silverware this season however, winning the Devon Cup final at home against Exmouth thanks in part to hat tricks from Winston James and Will Topps. [7]

Having remained in the South West Premier division in 2019-20 Barnstaple again mounted a promotion bid and were top of the table, requiring 8 match points from their remaining three games (a possible 15 points) when the global pandemic Coronavirus caused the suspension of all rugby in England on March 16th. Barnstaple were also top of the Devon Senior Cup standings and in prime position to secure a second successive home final at the time of the suspension.


Barnstaple's ground of Pottington Road is situated on the road of the same name, next door to Barnstaple Town Football Club. It is located in town on the north bank of the River Taw, and is about 20–30 minutes' walk from Barnstaple railway station, which is across the river to the south. The rugby ground consists of a main stand next to the club-house, a smaller stand on the opposite side, and along with the main pitch there are three alternative pitches for second XV and colts games, as well as a couple of smaller pitches suitable for younger age ranges/minis. Parking is available at the ground for 100+ cars but space can be limited so alternative parking nearby in town followed by a short walk may be necessary on busy days.

The current capacity of the ground is approximately 2,000, which includes around 575 seated (450 in the main stand, 150 in the stand opposite), with the rest standing. This capacity figure is representative of the sell-out crowd experienced against local rivals Bideford Rugby Football Club in the 2016 festive fixture between the two sides.

Season summary[edit]

Season League National Cup(s) County Cup(s)
Competition/Level Position Points Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 South West 2 (6)[8]
1988–89 South West 2 (6)[9]
1989–90 South West 2 (6)[9] Pilkington Cup 2nd Round
1990–91 South West 2 (6)[10]
1991–92 South West 2 (6)[11] Pilkington Cup 1st Round
1992–93 South West 2 (6) 2nd (promoted)[12]
1993–94 South West 1 (6)[a 1]
1994–95 South West 1 (6)
1995–96 South West 1 (6)
1996–97 South West 1 (5)[a 2] 4th[13] 28 Pilkington Cup 3rd Round Devon Senior Cup Winners
1997–98 South West 1 (5) 6th[14] 23 Tetley's Bitter Cup 1st Round
1998–99 South West 1 (5) 3rd[15] 36 Tetley's Intermediate Cup Semi-finals[16] Devon Senior Cup Winners
1999–00 South West 1 (5) 4th[17] 30 Tetley's Bitter Cup 1st Round Devon Senior Cup Winners
2000–01 South West 1 (5) 4th[18] 24 Tetley's Bitter Cup 2nd Round Devon Senior Cup Winners
2001–02 South West 1 (5) 3rd[19] 28 Powergen Cup 1st Round Devon Senior Cup Winners
2002–03 South West 1 (5) 4th[20] 25 Powergen Cup 1st Round[21] Devon Senior Cup Runners up
2003–04 South West 1 (5) 11th (relegated)[22] 11 Powergen Intermediate Cup[23]
2004–05 South West 2 West (6) 12th (relegated)[24] 11 Devon Senior Cup Winners
2005–06 Western Counties West (7) 3rd[25] 32
2006–07 Western Counties West (7) 1st (promoted)[26] 44 EDF Energy Senior Vase [27]
2007–08 South West 2 West (6) 2nd (promoted via playoff)[28] 36 EDF Energy Intermediate Cup 1st Round[29][30] Devon Senior Cup Winners
2008–09 South West 1 (5) 7th[31] 20 EDF Energy Trophy 2nd Round[21] Devon Senior Cup Winners
2009–10 National 3 South West (5)[a 3] 11th[32] 49[a 4] Devon Senior Cup Winners
2010–11 National 3 South West (5) 11th[33] 49 Devon Senior Plate Winners
2011–12 National 3 South West (5) 5th[34] 81 Devon Senior Cup Semi-finals[35]
2012–13 National 3 South West (5) 10th[36] 58 Devon Senior Cup Runners up
2013–14 National 3 South West (5) 8th[37] 63 Devon Senior Cup Semi-finals[38]
2014–15 National 3 South West (5) 8th[39] 63 Devon Senior Cup 1st Round[40]
2015–16 National 3 South West (5) 2nd (promoted via playoff)[41] 98 Devon Senior Cup 1st Round[42]
2016–17 National 2 South (4) 14th[a 5] 51
2017–18 National 2 South (4) 14th (relegated) 55
2018–19 South West Premier (5)[a 6] 2nd (lost playoff)[44] 91 Devon Senior Cup Winners
2019–20 South West Premier (5) 1st (promoted) 88.69[a 7] Devon Senior Cup
2020–21 National 2 South (4)
Green background stands for either league champions (with promotion) or cup winners. Blue background stands for promotion without winning league or losing cup finalists. Pink background stands for relegation.


Notable former players[edit]

Wales Cecil Pritchard - capped 8 times by Wales in the 1920s. Played part of his career at Barnstaple and Torquay Athletic when he moved to the south-west from his home country. Died in 1966.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Although Barnstaple were promoted from South West 2 into South West 1, the introduction of Courage League Division 5 by the RFU meant that South West 1 was reduced to a level 6 league.
  2. ^ The cancellation of Courage League Division 5 at the end of the 1995-96 season meant that South West 1 once more became a level 5 league.
  3. ^ RFU restructuring for the 2009–10 would see South West 1 be renamed as National League 3 South West.
  4. ^ The 2009–10 season would see the introduction of bonus points into tier 5 English rugby union.
  5. ^ London Welsh went into liquidation during the 2016–17 season leading to an imbalance of teams throughout the league structure.[43] This meant that there was one less demotion per level in the English rugby union system, which in turn saved 14th placed Barnstaple from relegation.
  6. ^ From the 2017–18 season National League 3 South West would be renamed South West Premier.
  7. ^ The season was postponed and ultimately cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom with Barnstaple sitting in 1st, having played 21 games and gained 77 points. The remaining games were calculated on a 'best playing record formula', with Barnstaple remaining in 1st place with 88.69 points.[45]


  1. ^ Barnstaple Rugby Archived December 11, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ a b "National League Three Round-up". The RugbyPaper (378). 1 May 2016. p. 37.
  3. ^ "About". Barnstaple RFC. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  4. ^ "Jerry Collins: New Zealand star's legendary Barnstaple outing". BBC Sport. BBC. 2 May 2016. Retrieved 6 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Barnstaple and Wimbledon fail to beat the drop". Talking Rugby Union. 30 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Westcliff Rugby Club secure promotion after big win in play-off final". Basildon, Canvey & Southend Echo. 30 April 2019.
  7. ^ "Barnstaple skipper dedicates Devon Cup triumph to club's volunteers". North Devon Gazette. 23 April 2019.
  8. ^ Stephen Jones, ed. (1988). Courage Leagues 1988–89. London: Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0356158845.
  9. ^ a b Tony Williams and Bill Mitchell, ed. (1990). Courage Clubs Championship. Official Rugby Union Club Directory 1990–91. Horsham: Burlington Publishing Co Ltd. ISBN 1873057024.
  10. ^ Stephen Jones, ed. (1991). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1991–92. London: Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0356202496.
  11. ^ Cornwall Rugby Football Union Official Handbook 1992-93. Cornwall RFU. 1992.
  12. ^ Jones, Stephen, ed. (1993). Rothmans Rugby Union Yearbook 1993–94 (22nd ed.). London: Headline Book Publishing. pp. 151–167. ISBN 0 7472 7891 1.
  13. ^ "Final League Tables, 1996–97". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  14. ^ "Final League Tables, 1997–98". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  15. ^ "South West 1 1998–1999". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Meteoric rise fails to stop Perry staying loyal to DK". Birmingham Post. 21 February 2006.
  17. ^ "South West 1, 1999–2000". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  18. ^ "Final League Tables 2000–2001". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  19. ^ "South West 1, 2001–2002". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  20. ^ "South West 1, 2002–2003". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  21. ^ a b "EDF National Trophy 08/09". Statbunker. 22 November 2008.
  22. ^ "South West 1, 2003–2004". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  23. ^ "Powergen Draws". ESPN. 12 July 2003.
  24. ^ "South West 2 West 2004–2005". England Rugby. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  25. ^ "Western Counties West 2005–2006". England Rugby. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  26. ^ "Final League Tables 2006–2007". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 1 September 2014.
  27. ^ "THE SENIOR LEAGUES 2006-2007". Trelawny's Army. 10 December 2006.
  28. ^ "South West 2 West 2007–2008". England Rugby. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
  29. ^ "Taunton overpower Barum". Somerset County Gazette. 17 October 2007.
  30. ^ "EDF Energy Intermediate Cup round 1 draw". Rolling Maul. 10 July 2007.
  31. ^ "South West 1, 2008–2009". England Rugby. RFU. Retrieved 2 May 2016.
  32. ^ "National League 3 South West 2009–2010". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  33. ^ "National League 3 South West 2010–2011". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  34. ^ "National League 3 South West 2011–2012". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  35. ^ "Exmouth smash Barnstaple in Cup Semi Final". Exmouth RFC (Pitchero). 7 April 2012.
  36. ^ "National League 3 South West 2012–2013". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  37. ^ "National League 3 South West 2013–2014". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  38. ^ "Brixham withdraw from the Devon Senior Cup". Brixham RFC (Pitchero). Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  39. ^ "National League 3 South West 2014–2015". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  40. ^ "The Devon Senior Cup 2014-15". Devon RFU. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  41. ^ "National League 3 South West 2015–2016". England Rugby. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  42. ^ "The Devon Senior Cup 2015-16". Devon RFU. Retrieved 7 November 2018.
  43. ^ "London Welsh: RFU refuses permission for Exiles to stay in Championship". BBC Sport. 24 January 2017.
  44. ^ "South West Premier 2018–2019". England Rugby. Retrieved 13 April 2019.
  45. ^ "RFU confirms league positions". England Rugby. Retrieved 2 April 2020.
  46. ^ a b "DRFU Handbook 2011-12" (PDF). Devon RFU. Retrieved 30 January 2017.