Devonport Services R.F.C.

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Devonport Services R.F.C.
Full name Devonport Services Rugby Football Club
Union Devon RFU
Nickname(s) The Sporting Blues
Founded 1904; 113 years ago (1904)
Location Plymouth, Devon, England
Ground(s) The Rectory Field (Capacity: 2,000[a 1])
Chairman Captain Martyn Williams RN
President David Lister
Coach(es) Bryan Crichton
League(s) Tribute Western Counties West
2016-17 3rd
Team kit
Official website

Devonport Services Rugby Football Club is an English rugby union team based in Plymouth, Devon. The club was originally called United Services Devonport and had their first recorded match back in 1904.[2] Devonport Services play their homes games at the Rectory Field and their strip and club colours are dark blue and red. They are currently competing in Tribute Western Counties West at tier 7 of the English rugby union league system.

Current Club[edit]

Once open to the members of the British Armed Forces only, the rules have been relaxed since the mid 1990's, therefore allowing civilians to play alongside serving armed forces players. However, the club rules stipulate that at least 50% of the club's senior squad playing must be members of the Armed Forces - mainly from the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.[3] As well as first team the club runs 2nd and 3rd teams, colts, and the occasional Vets team. There are also multiple youth teams for boys (7-16) and girls (15-18).

Inside Rectory Field, home of Devonport Services RFC.
View of Rectory Field taken from outside of the ground.

Club history[edit]

Early beginnings[edit]

Although the beginnings of the club are hazy they were certainly established during the first decade of the 20th century. The team, then known as United Services Devonport, was initially open to officers of the British Armed Forces, with the first recorded match being on 1 October 1904 when Services played out a 2-2 draw against Plymouth RFC (a parent club of Plymouth Albion) in front of a crowd of 6,000. During the early stages of the club the team did not perform particuylarly well until 1912 when the club opened its playing membership to other ranks in the military and results improved dramatically.[2]

The first mention of the club using the current name of Devonport Services with any regularity was around 1910/1911, although occasionally the press covering games would call them United Services leading to a degree of confusion. In 1912 the club got given its nickname "The Sporting Blues" by the South Wales Echo who used this name as part of their headline when covering the Services game away to Swansea.[2] The Services initially played home games at Keyham, owned by the RNEC but during 1920s they moved to the Rectory Field in Devonport. The Rectory Field had previously been occupied by Devonport Albion, who were the strongest side in Devon during the early 20th century, but the ground was sold for £6,500 to the Navy in 1920. In the same year Devonport Albion merged with Plymouth RFC to form Plymouth Albion and subsequently moved to Beacon Park. In 1928 the Rectory Field was procured by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sports Control Board who rented it out to Devonport Services who have remained there ever since.

Postwar years[edit]

During World War II the Rectory Field was destroyed by fire due to Luftwaffe bombing raids, leaving only a small section of stand considered safe enough for spectators. The post war years would see the Rectory Field rebuilt, leaving Devonport Services without a home ground for several years. By 1948 the damaged main stand was rebuilt and space for around 1,200 supporters, while additional facilities such as separate changing rooms and a bar were added and a second stand was also added - leading to the ground becoming known as the “Twickenham of the West”.[4] After being rebuilt the Rectory Field had a capacity of around 7,000 - which was the largest recorded attendance when the Combined Services beat the All Blacks on the 30 November 1993.[5]

Up to present day[edit]

As well as hosting the All Blacks, the early 1990s were a successful time for the club as they won back to back league titles by winning Devon League 1 in 1992, followed by Tribute Cornwall/Devon in 1993.[6] They spent four seasons in Western Counties West before being relegated in 1999.[7] In 2003 Devonport Services won promotion by winning the Tribute Cornwall/Devon for the second time.[8] Once again they enjoyed a number of seasons in Western Counties West until 2005 when a torrid season saw the go down in last place which just one league win all season.[9] This relegation was short-lived as Services came second in Tribute Devon/Cornwall to earn promotion back to Western Counties West.[10]

Since 2005 the main stand (south stand) of the Rectory Field was closed due to safety concerns (it is made of wood and a fire hazard), leaving the current capacity at around 2,000 which includes the (still open) north stand and standing areas.[1] Despite plans to demolish the stand in 2015 it remains part of the iconic ground.

Club Honours[edit]

Representative Honours[edit]


37 players have gained men's senior international caps whilst at Devonport Services including 97 caps for England.[11]

  • England (14 players): Clarke.S, Eyres.W.C.T, Faithful.C.K.T, Gardener.E.R, Gilbert.F.G, Gilbert.R, Harding.E.H, Hosking.D'Arcy, Luddington.W.G.E, Moore.W.K.T, Sharp.R, Vaughan.D.B, Webb.C.S.H, Woods.T
  • Wales (14): D. Bebb, G. Bevan, J. Collins, T. Davies, C. James, B. Jones, L. Jones, D. Main, H. Mainwaring, A. Meredith, B. Meredith, M.C. Thomas, L. Williams, W. Williams
  • Ireland (3): W.F. Horsey-Brown, H.W.V. Stephenson, M. Sugden
  • Scotland (5): J. Aitkin, T. Rodd, K. Ross, G. Waddell, P. Waklastow
  • Barbarians (7): M.C. Thomas, B. Gray, J. Highton, E. Hosking, SA. Lewis Jones, G. Waddell, J.K. Watkins

Youth internationals[edit]

12 players have gained youth international caps while at Devonport Services.[11]

Men's County/Representative[edit]

95 players have gained county or representative caps while at Devonport Services.[11]

  • Devon (71): B. Badcock., C.A. Baker, F.W. Bristow., Broome. Leading seaman, D. Brown, A.E. Carter, S. Clarke, M. Connolly., W.L. Copley, J.H. Dalyrymple, T.E. Davies, W. Davies, W.CT. Eyres, G. Fabian, E.J. Gardener, ERA. George, B.M. Gray., Sub-Lieut Hargrave, R. Hart., M. Hewitt, J. Highton., A. Higginson., R.M. Holgate.R.M., G.R. Hoskin, J. Husson, B. Jones, S. Jones, L. Kenny, J. Lane, K.A. Lavelle, T.S. Lee, Midshipman, W.M. Lowery, J. Martin, Meadows, A. Meredith, C. Miller, Lieutenant Middleditch, G. Morgan., J.K. Morrison., M.A. Pearey, B. Penfold, N. Penny, A. Pond, G. Price, F.A. Prosser, D. Pulford, G.D.O. Randel, Lieutenant Robotham, T.L. Scott, J. Shone, D.H. Smaldon, C.S. Stafford, L.S. Stovell, J.H. Tarr, D.G. Wixon
  • Devon 7's (1): Ben Ashford
  • Cornwall (11): Campbell, Lieutenant Carter, E.J. Gardener, F.G. Gilbert, Instructor Lieutenant B. Glastonbury , B.C. Gosling., S.J. Kealey, Lieutenant Kelly, Ldg Shiells, Instructor Lieutenant Thomas, Midshipman Walsham
  • Somerset (2): G. Criddle, H.W. Hoar
  • Surrey (1): J. Lion
  • Hampshire (4) M.J. Brosnan, T.G.P. Crick, B.G. Gosling, Lieutenant Mares
  • Dorset & Wilts (1): T .Hodgins
  • Berkshire (1): Lieutenant Fenner
  • Oxfordshire (1): Lieutenant Elvy
  • Kent (1): Coyte
  • Cumberland (1): Sub-Lieutenant Webster

Youth county/representative[edit]

11 players have gained youth county or representative caps while at Devonport Services.[11]

  • Devon Under 18's, Richard Goldsby-West, Jordan Patey.
  • South West under 20s (1): Charlie Attis Richard Baylis.
  • South West under 16s (5): Richard Bayliss, Dan Pullinger-Ham, Tom Mumford, Chalie Attis, Mike Lewis , Richard Goldsby-West.

Ladies international/represnetative[edit]

2 players have gained international or representative caps while at Devonport Services.[11]

  • England (1): Lagi Tuima
  • England Students (Ladies) (1): Marcia Burgess


  1. ^ Rectory Field ground capacity was originally 7,000 until the main stand was closed in 2005.[1]


  1. ^ a b "Plymouth sporting landmark due to be demolished". Plymouth Herald. 23 February 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "History Devonport Services RFC". Devonport Services RFC. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  3. ^ "Introduction To The Club". Devonport Services RFC. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 
  4. ^ "History of The Rectory Field - to 1950". Devonport Online. Retrieved 3 February 2017. 
  5. ^ "Rugby Union: Insipid All Blacks appear homesick: Unheralded Services show their worth". The Independent. 1 December 1993. 
  6. ^ Devon Rugby Football Union Ltd Official Handbook 2012 – 2013 (PDF). Devon RFU. Retrieved 23 April 2015. 
  7. ^ "Final League Tables 1998–99". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  8. ^ "Final League Tables 2002–023". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  9. ^ "Final League Tables, 2004–2005". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  10. ^ "Final League Tables, 2005–2006". Trelawny's Army. Retrieved 1 September 2014. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "Honours Devonport Services RFC". Devonport Services RFC. Retrieved 4 February 2017. 

External links[edit]