Olney’s Rich Rugby History

Posted by on Nov 4, 2013 in Sports | Comments Off

Olney’s Rich Rugby History

The Town of Olney is famous for pancake racing, but it also has a rich sport heritage in rugby, being one of the oldest clubs in the U.K. dating back to 1877. At that time rugby was bit more of a mud bowl game in any available field in match against a local nearby town. The ball was either a pig bladder or a sack stuffed-tight full of hay.

By the turn of the century Olney rugby had progressed to a bit more of an organized approach, but then World War I came and wiped out a good portion of the team in military casualties. After the first War Olney returned to the game but as a Junior club, having lost most of its best talent in battlefield fighting. The two became very good again as a second level playing element, but many players would then migrate to other towns to play at first level match competition.


The Olney pancake race

Olney Rugby was cursed to see a repeat of its roster losses when World War II started. The Town’s team had reached a pinnacle of performance again by 1935, making its reputation well-known in the region, only to see the players lost again to the military draft and fighting overseas. By 1945, the Town had to rebuild its teams from scratch again as well with a few returning players from military service.

By the mid-1960s Olney Rugby returned as a powerhouse again, needing more field space to expand and grow as a program. Today, Olney Rugby is made up of five different squads of men’s teams, a Junior level, and Rugby Mini team as well for young beginners at or below U12. The town has major titles and many of its professional players represent the first generation of its Mini-Rugby program started in the 1970s.