Sun 25 Jun 2017 20:50

 

A pitch was found at Nursteed Road and the Club was able to use the old Crown Hotel as its H.Q. until 1956, when the Castle Hotel became the Club's new base. Then, as now, players were in short supply, fund-raising was essential for the Club's progress, but the social side of the Club and events such as the Rugby Ball made the Club's reputation. In 1961 the Club moved pitches to play at Hopton on the outskirts of the town. This saw an improved playing record, capped by the Club winning the Bath 7-a-side Senior Cup for 2 years running in 1962 and again in 1963.

When the Sports Club formed up again in 1966 the Rugby Club found its permanent H.Q. there but had to wait several years before playing on the current pitch, which is known as the Chivers Ground after the late Bruce Chivers, which was opened by the England skipper, John Pullin, in 1973.

The Club's outstanding achievements in the 70's include defeating Salisbury twice to lift the coveted Dorset & Wilts K.O. Cup in 1971 and 1973, plus winning the Wiltshire 7's back-to-back in 1972 and 1973. Also, having defeated Camberley, Devizes progressed to the next round of the national knock-out Cup and, on 31 October, 1973, a gutsy performance saw Devizes go down 49 - 6 away to Gloucester at Kingsholm. Gloucester paid Devizes the compliment of fielding their strongest team, which was full of internationals and county players. The 70's also witnessed Charlie's Angels 3XV (and photographs from that era would be very welcome), the appearance of an over 30's XV, trips to Uden in Holland, and the emergence of an excellent Colts XV that went on to win the County Cup in 1980 - the same year that Devizes won the inaugural season of the Dorset & Wilts Merit Table.

The Club celebrated its golden jubilee in 1981 and a few years later, in 1985, took full possession of the Chivers Ground.
The Club can boast 4 internationals in the late Peter Wright (England and the British Lions), Jon Palmer (England), Andy Stanton (Canada) and Paul Simpson (England). Currently the Club fields 3 regular XVs, runs a Veterans XV and hosts a lively Junior section, which has gone from strength to strength over the years since its introduction in 1974 and has helped develop at least one young England player, namely Simon Whatling, now with Worcester and formerly with Bath, who returned to help coach the youngsters at Devizes when the Club's second pitch was opened in September, 2003.
During the past few seasons the Club has been consolidating its position in the Southern Counties South league and has now prepared a second pitch on land that was recently acquired by the Sports Club with Lottery Funds and assistance from the Rugby Football Foundation, from Awards for All and from Kennet District Council, who continue to be a source of great support for not just the Rugby Club but for all sports in the district. We were among the first Clubs in Dorset & Wiltshire to achieve not only the prestigious RFU "Seal of Approval" but also the highly-valued Sport England "Clubmark" quality assurance accreditation in January, 2006.

Since 2002 our 1XV has again provided several players (namely James Gaiger, Marc Heywood, Tom Collins and Alex Bennett) for the Dorset & Wilts. squad in the County Championship, while Dan Masters has represented Somerset, who reached the County Plate Final at Twickenham in 2004/05. Players were also selected for the 2006 squad to represent the Bath Combination against the Bristol Combination..
The 2XV had entered the Bath & District Combination Merit Table for the first time in 2001/02 : they won it that year and they were runners-up in two of the following seasons; but they entered the Dorset & Wilts Div 2(N) from 2005/06.

Since 2003/04 the 3XV has been playing in the de-regulated leagues that are administered by Dorset & Wilts. RFU in order to provide regular social rugby for its enthusiatic team.

The 2011/2012 season saw our second team secure promotion to Dorset & Wilts North 1 (level 8) for the 2012/2013 season. The 1st XV secured a credible 4th spot, narrowly missing out on a promotion playoff in the same season in Southern Counties South.

In the 2012/2013 season the Saddlebacks, buoyed on by their 4th place position in Southern Counties South the previous season, ran out as eventual winners to gain promotion to South West 1 East. On the way, the 1st XV secured impressive victories on the road at Dorchester, Frome, Corsham, Royal Wootton Bassett and Wimborne to lead the way for the majority of the campaign. This was the biggest end to the season in the club's history and the Saddlebacks rounded the title victory off with a narrow home win against fellow promotion challengers Wimborne.

After the title winning season, Devizes spent their first year making waves in South West 1 East, finishing in a respectable 7th place. Wins on the road at Maidenhead, Newbury and Grove will live long in the memory. The 2014/2015 season saw Devizes suffer from a terrible run of injuries and alongside a number of key players departing from the club due to work commitments, despite winning two out of their first three league fixtures,fourteen consecutive defeats followed. Despite a late end of season rally, Devizes fell to the drop and were relegated back to Southern Counties South.

The 2015/2016 saw Devizes consolidate 4th place on their return to Southern Counties South, seeing some memorable performances, not least the home wins over Royal Wotton Bassett (in the Dorset & Wilts Cup); away at North Dorset in the league (a 26-24 narrow away win in filthy conditions) and an emphatic victory on the final home game of the season against Midsomer Norton. A majestic comeback in the Bath Combination Cup against Keynsham will also go down in the history books with Devizes behind 16-0 with half an hour to play only to win 17-16. The semi final of this competition saw Devizes play three times in a week, facing local adversaries and National 3 side Chippenham. Depsite a heroic effort by all playing that night, Chippenham squeezed through in the second half to make the final at The Rec. The season was coupled with some indifferent performances, not least away at Marlborough and home to Walcot (both ending in defeats).

2016/2017 was a frustrating season for the senior mens teams. Whilst the 3rd XV were buoyant, the 2nd XV went through the season without a win and thus being relegated to Dorset & Wilts North 2. This impacted the 1st XV who at times put in some superb performances (not least the away win at Swanage & Wareham), however also put in some frustrating displays which saw the Saddlebacks draw an incredible five times throughout the course of the season. A 6th placed finish therefore was fully justified and one can hope for better success next season.

It was Devizes Ladies who flew the flag of success over the course of this season, with a fine campaign which saw them narrowly miss out on the title with a draw in their penultimate match against eventual title winners Westbury. A first ever VP's lunch prior to their final league game of the season against Chew Valley saw over 100 club members enjoy the festivities prior to the match. A 2nd placed finish thoroughly deserved and an increase in playing numbers should stand the Ladies section in good stead for years to come.

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