- Ask Steven
West Country nostalgiaJohn GriffithsAugust 18, 2014
Which is the oldest of the main West Country clubs? David Simpson, England
Clifton College and Cheltenham College were among the earliest schools to adopt the Rugby version of football in the 19th century and it is probable that their former pupils were responsible for the game's growth in the West country.
Former Cheltenham pupils featured in the first England (1871) and Wales (1881) international teams while both institutions were represented across the Home Unions in the early years of Test rugby.
Of the three main clubs in the area, Bath is the oldest. They trace their foundation back to 1865, though it was not until 1894 that they adopted the Recreation Ground as their home.
Gloucester followed in September 1873 when nearly fifty local lads meeting in the city's Spread Eagle Hotel resolved to form a rugby club.
Bristol, desperately seeking promotion back to English rugby's top-flight this season, are the youngest of the major West country sides. The club was formed in 1888 when two local junior sides, Redland Park and Carlton, amalgamated.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.