Sat 06 Jul 2019 20:33

The idea of a Rugby Union Football Club in Bicester was conceived over a pint of beer during a conversation between Ken Herman and Roger Smith in the White Hart public house towards the end of 1947. The inaugural meeting of the club took place in the Fox Inn on Thursday, 25th March 1948. Present were Lawrence LaneMajor MalinsBill NicholsonKen Hermanand others. Reg Simms was elected Chairman with Vernie Malins as President. Ken Herman was the 1st XV Captain, and Charles Duke, a Deputy Bank Manager, was, appropriately made Treasurer. The playing strip chosen was adopted from the Bicester Grammar School, with the colours Red and Gold having come from the town's heraldic arms, and Brown from the heraldic crest, a fox's mask. The club's first headquarters were at the Kings Arms Hotel, where proprietor, Jack Ansell, provided a converted stable building, with changing rooms and showers. 

The club's first game was played on the evening of Wednesday, 19th April 1948, against a combined Army and Royal Air Force team. In those early years, Bicester were often short of numbers and were indebted to both Bicester Barracks and RAF Bicester who supplied most of the players, whilst the club recruited from the local farming community and Grammar School.

One of the earliest highlights was for the club to reach the final of the Oxfordshire Open Sevens in 1954. Victorious over the Middlesex side, Old Paulines, in the semi-final, Bicester lost to Moseley 10-3 in the final. Also, Lawrence Nash, Pickford, Harrington and Ken Herman all had the honour to represent Oxfordshire during the 1950s.

The late great Haydn Morgan,asked if he could run out for Bicester whilst doing his National Service with the Army, and, with tough selection in those days, was selected to play for the 2nd XV. He wore skipper Ken Haddock's shirt and went on to score two tries. He continued to play for Bicester and played for both club and country (Wales) on successive Saturdays in 1958, going on to collect 27 caps for his country. Within two years of first wearing a Bicester jersey, he was also called up for duty with the British Lions in 1959 and then again in 1962.

Throughout the 1960s, players used to assemble for away matches on Market Square, with wives and girlfriends sharing the cooking in the wooden hut on the Bicester Sports Association playing fields at Oxford Road. The current shared clubhouse was built by the Bicester Sports Club, and opened in 1969. The club's Silver Jubilee was marked by a special match against an International XV, including Dickie Jeeps, Haydn Morgan and Geoffrey Windsor-Lewis.

In 1983 Jack Gomarsall, together with Tom CokerPeter Ferens and Tony Stratton helped to found the Bicester Youth Rugby Section. Jack Gomarsall brought his son Andy Gomarsall through the Bicester age groups, and he went on to lead a successful career with some of England's biggest clubs, including Wasps, Gloucester and Harlequins, and collected 35 caps for his country.

In the 1990s, the club started the decade off as runners up in the County Senior Cup against Banbury, following that up with two consecutive visits to Twickenham as runners up, both times against Bradford Salem in the Provinial Insurance Rugby Cup Finals. In 1996 and then again in 1997 we went on to lift the County Senior Cup, first against Henley and then against Banbury.

Another more recent success from our youth section, James Forrester, left us to go on and make 144 appearances for Gloucester, and collect a couple of England caps, before injury forced an early retirement from the game in 2007. The shirt he wore whilst being chased down by Jonah Lomu in a 65 metre break away try on his first outing for England against the Barbarians is on display in the Trophy Bar.

Bicester Women, under Kat Davies's leadership, formed our first women's team, the Vixens, in 2017, which joined the 17 teams we currently support, with nearly 400 active registered players aged from 5 to 50, regularly playing in matches across Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire, and at National Level 7, in the Southern Counties (North) League.


League honours

Bicester 1st XV 
Champions OBB Division 1 Courage League 1991-92 
Champions OBB Division 2 Courage League 1990-91

Bicester 2nd XV
Champions OBB Division 1 2008-09
Champions OBB Division 2 2007-08

Cup honours

National Junior Cup Finals 
1991-92 Runners Up, Bicester 6-12 Bradford Salem at Twickenham 
1990-91 Runners Up, Bicester 12-17 Bradford Salem at Twickenham

The County Senior Cup
1997 Winners, Bicester 19-16 Banbury at Iffley Road
1996 Winners, Bicester 22-21 Henley at Iffley Road

1990 Runners Up, Bicester 6-19 Banbury at Iffley Road
1983 Runners Up, Bicester 7-8 Henley at Iffley Road

County Shield
2007 Winners, Bicester 17-10 Wallingford at Iffley Road

County Plate 
2001 Winners, Bicester 58-17 Abingdon at Iffley Road

Veterans County Floodlight Cup 
2008 Winners, Bicester 16-6 Chinnor

Player representative honours

Internationals

  • Haydon Morgan - Wales, British & Irish Lions
  • Mike Inns - USA
  • Andy Gomarsall MBE - England
  • James Forrester - England
  • Jon Goodridge - England U21
  • William Hafu - Tonga

Oxfordshire County Caps (5 appearances minimum)

  • John Malins
  • Janek Maciejewski
  • Dave Spencer
  • Stuart Cassidy 
  • Darren Cassidy

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