In the Beginning
A Short History of Helensburgh RFC 1 of 6

1. In the Beginning

The Sixties

In an area blessed with a plethora of historic sporting clubs, senior rugby didn’t feature in Helensburgh until 1963, exactly 90 years after the formation of what is now the Scottish Rugby Union.
That it did feature was thanks to the fortitude and determination of a group of Burgh men, most of whom had played rugby at school and wished to continue the fine sport in the locality. Chief among them were Fergus Howat, Campbell Smith, Donald Fullarton and Derek Cousin-Wood. (Many of the founder and early members are pictured above celebrating the club’s 50th anniversary in 2013).
In order to play at all, they had to tick a couple of important boxes: first, they had to have a pitch, and second, to play ‘meaningful’ fixtures they had to be affiliated to a union. These Burgh lads had neither, but thanks to connections at Shawlands FPs (part of the Glasgow District Rugby Union), they started providing lads to fulfil 3rd XV fixtures up at Nether Pollock.
Bit by bit, Burgh players started taking over their host side’s identity and it wasn’t long before Shawlands 3rd XV was effectively a Helensburgh team, playing as many friendly matches as possible to bolster numbers locally, and occasionally using school playing fields in an area of Helensburgh called Ardencaple.
By the late 1960s, Helensburgh (though technically still playing Shawlands 3rd XV fixtures) were becoming a strong side in their own right, and formally joined the GDRU in the spring of 1969 to become Helensburgh Rugby Club, by which time most ‘home’ matches were being played at Ardencaple.
Numbers grew at training now the new club had a base in the town and, with ex-international referee and SRU big-wig Copey Murdoch at the helm during these formative years, soon had three teams up and running. Copey was also instrumental in establishing the famous Burgh colours of bottle green jersey, black shorts and bottle green socks.
(A distant descendant – with added gold, white piping and big stripey socks – is still being worn today).