Since 1877, when the club was founded, the history of Stratford-Upon-Avon Rugby Football Club is inseparable from the history of the town. Indeed, Stratford was one of the earliest rugby clubs to be established in England.
In 1887, Archie Flower (from the famous Flowers Brewery) moved across from Cambridge and subsequently became Captain, after which the Club enjoyed several seasons of great success. For example in the 1889-90 season, as well as drawing two games against Coventry, Stratford beat Leicester three times (without Leicester scoring a single point).
The first time the Club was recorded as using the current ground was in the season 1903-4. The ground was named ‘Pearcecroft’ after William Pearce, President of the “Early Closers Football Club”, who played upon the site. The club then, as now, was filled with players from local families whose names transcend the history of the club, such as Salt, Bailey, Horton, Flower and Bird, whose descendants played at the Club (some to the present day).
In the 1905-6 season, Stratford entered the international era with a visit to Sporting Club Universitaire de France, (SCUF). When the Parisian team returned the compliment by visiting Stratford, a banquet was held at Stratford Town Hall and many notable dignitaries (including Marie Corelli) attended. However, the Club suffered its share of bereavements during the Great War 1914-18, and 15 members are recorded in the Club’s history as “Never Returned”. The Club’s rugby then suffered a decline during the period 1929-39 when the town’s Grammar School old boys, the “Old Edwardians”, split away and formed their own club. Thankfully, this decline was short lived, and after the Second World War the Club restarted and reincorporated the Old Edwardians. It also managed to purchase the pitch at Pearcecroft and recovered some, if not all, of its earlier status. The annual game against SCUF from Paris was reinstated in 1955. This tradition continues to this day, with matches in Paris and Stratford in alternate years. On occasions even mini and junior players get involved in this colourful event.
Stratford boasted its only full international during its best post-war period in 1962, with Tom Pargetter playing in the England second row.
The Club fields 4 senior sides, an Under-19 Colts side and a Veteran side. Stratford was one of the first clubs in the Midlands not only to boast the installation of floodlights, but also to start mini and junior rugby sections in the 1969-70 season. As a result of Stratford’s strong youth policy, several young players have gone on to play as junior internationals, and several have moved on to First Division clubs. Recently the club was able to celebrate Nathan Webber, a former mini and junior colt player at Stratford, winning his first England A international cap against Queensland. Even now, the mini and junior sections support teams from under 7’s to under 16’s, with over 250 registered players. With a population of only 25,000, Stratford-Upon-Avon can be justly proud of the achievements of its Rugby Club, and of the commitment shown by so many managers, coaches and players.