Thursday 2 August 2012

Wartime Rugby - Ilkley

During the early months of World War Two a number of Yorkshire rugby union clubs that had closed down when War was declared managed to restart fixtures. Many of those clubs had fixtures planned for the whole of the 1939/40 season but very few completed their fixtures.
In January and early February 1940, Britain experienced one of the worst winters in living memory and the severe winter plus the increase in conscription were probably two of the factors that caused many clubs to close down for the duration of hostilities.
Ilkley was one of the clubs that restarted in September 1939 but was then forced to close down in early 1940.

Below are some extracts from the Ilkley club minutes
The club minutes show that in January 1940 "the bar in the clubhouse to be closed for the season, stock to be sent back. In view of the shortage of players due to recent enlistments the remainder of the fixtures to be cancelled." No further meetings were held until 10th September 1945 when a special meeting was called at which 14 people attended. At this meeting "it was decided to run a full fixture list for the 1946/47 season but in the meantime Otley be asked to run a 2nd XV on our ground using as many Ilkley players as possible and that "endeavours be made to run games when the boys were home at Christmas and Easter."
In April 1946 a special AGM was held attended by all those interested in restarting the club - about 40 people attended. In June 1946 the secretary was instructed to write to the English Rugby Union applying for clothing coupons so that new jerseys could be bought and in September of that year 18white jerseys were purchased (apparently without coupons) as it was impossible to get any in the club colours. 
I am grateful to Ken Barnard, from Ilkley RUFC, for providing the information above.

'Let Them Play By All Means'

Tells the story of how Yorkshire rugby union clubs responded to the tremendous challenges of playing rugby during wartime. Click the ' Let Them Play' tab for further details.

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