Reading R.F.C. is an English rugby union club, which runs a total of 21 sides across Men's, Women's, Girls and Junior rugby. The 1st XV play in Southern Counties North. The club is located in the village of Sonning, on the outskirts of Reading. The 1st XV is coached by Ben Wills, assisted by defence coach Gareth Williams, 2nd XV coach Jack Lynch and 3rd XV coach Gareth Tully. The coaching team is headed up by Director of Rugby Andrew Arter
|Full name||Reading Rugby Football Club|
|Nickname(s)||The Green Machine|
|Top scorer||Alex Dorliac|
|League(s)||Southern Counties North|
|2019–20||Runners up (not promoted)|
Reading was originally formed as 'Berkshire Wanderers' in July 1898 when RFU President Roger Walker, RFU Secretary George Rowland Hill and Cambridge Blue G R Joyce held a meeting in Pangbourne. Their aim was to set up a rugby club in Reading and the first game was played at the County Cricket Ground, Kensington Road, in September 1898. The club led a nomadic existence until, shortly before World War II, they moved to their present headquarters at Holme Park, Sonning. The club's name was changed to Reading in 1956 and the first trophy was won in 1970 when Marlow were beaten 16–3 at Maidenhead in the inaugural Berkshire Cup Final.
In the 1970s, Reading went into decline as Maidenhead and then Abbey became predominant in Berkshire. However, a successful colts side, organised by the late John Silverthorne, formed the basis of a revival following a disastrous 1982–83 season in which only one game was won.
Coach Jeff Owen and skipper Ian Turrell joined forces in the early 1980s and through their emphasis on forward power, Reading became known as "The Green Machine". The Berkshire Cup was won for the second time in 1986 and then regularly until the Wanderers – the 2nd XV – won it for a record tenth time, beating Bracknell in the final. The Southern Merit Table was also won six times in less than a decade. In the 1986–87 season, the team won 30 out of 34 matches and also reached the third round of the John Player Cup, running Coventry, then amongst the country's elite, very close before going down 26–12.
When the leagues started in 1987, Reading were placed in South West Division Two and lost their first-ever league game at home to Berry Hill. Nevertheless, they finished second in the league and were promoted. Three successive promotions under Mike Tewkesbury's guidance from 1992–93 took Reading into the country's top thirty teams. Reading played five seasons at this level, peaking at a final position of 6th, but by the time Tewkesbury left in 1999 problems were already apparent, as successive financial cuts had depleted the squad. Successive relegations took the side back into South West Division One.
However, with Alastair McHarg and Dick Michael at the helm, steady progress was made over the next three seasons, culminating in promotion to National Division 3 South in 2004. The 2004–05 season started badly, with defeat in the hot sunshine at Hertford, but it ended entertainingly with a 50–28 win against old rivals Lydney and a creditable sixth place. The 2005–06 season started in much the same way with early defeats and many team changes due to injuries. However, there was no revival after Christmas as opportunities were missed in consecutive weeks for wins over Rosslyn Park and Southend which saw Reading return to South West Division 1. The worst moments for the team and supporters were the defeats at relegation rivals Bracknell and Old Patesians.
The 2006–07 season saw an end of season upsurge in form with Reading finishing safely fifth in the table. McHarg said that "We've been playing with a lot of passion and commitment. The players have lifted themselves – they've stuck together and done exceptionally well."
The 2007–08 season saw them relegated to South West Division Two where they were originally placed when leagues started in 1987.
The 2008–09 season saw them promoted again but this was short lived as they were relegated once more in season 2009–10.
The 2009–10 season has the team finishing 5th in the South West 1 East Division.
The 2010–11 season saw another mid table finish of 6th place.
- 1970 First winners of Berkshire County Cup
Courage National Division 5 South champions: 1993–94
- South West Division 1 champions: 2003–04
- South West 2 (east v west) promotion play-off winners: 2008–09
- Berks/Bucks & Oxon 2 South champions: 2008–09
The first team squad is amateur, the club also field a 2nd (Wanderers), 3rd (Vikings) & 5th (Saxons) team. The club have an over-35s squad (4th team), the "Rhinos".
2019-20 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
"Reading Ladies" are now a well-established team, playing regular Sunday fixtures against teams throughout the region. On 2 January 2008, a combined Berkshire and Buckinghamshire side played Canada U19s at RRFC. The half-time score was 19–5 to the visitors with the Canadian women's under-19 side eventually winning 41–5.
Reading under-15s girls and under-18s girls make up most of the Berkshire County sides and recently have had two England International girls and one Scotland International girl making the squads from Reading RFC.
In 2014–15 the under-18 Berkshire Barbarians girls side (combined Newbury RFC & Reading RFC) won the National 15's title as well as the Wasp's 10's Worthing 10's and National 7's titles
In 2016 The Berkshire Barbarians became just Reading & Newbury girls and then in Sep 2017 the cluster fully split leaving Reading RFC as a standalone girls club. In 2018-19 the U18 Team won the Area2 Cup by beating London Scottish U18 Girls making it the national Semi finals where they lost to Pulborough the eventual winners. The U15 team were beaten at the Area Semi Final stage. At the 2019 Worthing 10's the U15's were runners up to OA's and the U18's won the cup narrowly beating Dorchester.
2 U18 players represented England U18 Girls vs Emerging Wales during 2019 and past players played for several Tyrell's Premiership teams.
Reading have seen a resurgence in youth rugby in recent years and now have representative teams in all age categories. Youth rugby is played on Sunday mornings. Reading also have two very successful girls teams at under-15s and under-18s and a very successful senior ladies side.
Reading Rugby Club also has the highest level of RFU accreditation with the RFU Whole Club Seal of Approval award on top of its Mini/Midi Seal of Approval Level 3, along with Club Mark and Sport England.
- "McHarg targets third spot". Reading Evening Post. 2 March 2007. Archived from the original on 23 April 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
- "Rugby: Bracknell must win or be relegated". Reading Evening Post. 13 April 2007. Archived from the original on 23 April 2007. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
- "U19 Women: A Number of Tour Rookies on Squad to England". rugbycanada.ca. 25 December 2007. Retrieved 29 December 2007.
- "U19 Women: Canada makes it two in a row on tour to England". rugbycanada.ca. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 6 January 2008.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 July 2015. Retrieved 23 July 2015.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)