Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Oakwood Rugby Union Football Club

Oakwood RUFC was formed as the result of the merger between Leeds Chirons and Kitson College Rugby Club.
The club struggled from the word go and and during the two seasons it was in existence only won two games.
Oakwood's fixtures and results can be found in 'A Forgotten Rugby Club'. Follow the link from the tab on the home page for the free download.

Oakwood played on the old Chirons pitch on Soldiers Field and used the dressing rooms at Roundhay School. The fixture list was similar to the one that Chirons had managed to put together the previous season. The Oakwood club played in red and white hooped shirts, bought with a grant from Leeds City Council. I imagine the 1988/89 season started with a great deal of optimism. Unfortunately, the initial optimism was short lived and the club struggled from the word go.
There was only one victory that season on 15th October 1988 against Airebronians Ex ‘A’. The rest of the season saw defeat after defeat, but the club was still managing to turn out a team on a fairly regular basis. A tour to London took place on the weekend on 4th March 1989 when Oakwood played games against a Wimbledon XV and a Hitchen XV and lost both games. The players to complete the weekend also watched an England rugby union International at Twickenham.  Unfortunately, after the tour the season appeared to go rapidly downhill. The club struggled to get a full team on the pitch for a number of games in March and April. For the final game of the season against an Otliensians XV, Oakwood only had thirteen players available and the game was lost by 72-18.
Despite the very disappointing first season, the club did arrange a fixture list for 1989/90 and began playing fixtures again in September 1989. However, just after the season began they got the news that Leeds City Council had ordered them to leave the dressing rooms at Roundhay School, as they were required for educational purposes. I can only speculate about why the club was asked to leave a building that had been used as rugby changing rooms since 1925. Leeds Chirons and Leeds E.O.S.C. before them had never paid any rent for using the building. I assume the Education Department had allowed the club to use the building free of charge because of its education connections. Perhaps it was because the Oakwood club had no obvious education connection that the City Council took the opportunity to reclaim the building. However, I can’t imagine it was ever used for educational purposes, as it had two rugby changing areas, a bath and a tea room, not really the type of facility required by a school in 1989. A few years later the building was demolished in order to create a car park. Oakwood continued to fulfil fixtures for the rest of the 1989/90 season using the Council changing rooms on Soldiers Field but, as was the case in the previous season, the club only managed one victory, on 4th November 1989, against Wetherby ‘B’, a game won by 26-6. The Oakwood club went out of existence at the end of the 1989/90 season; the last reported game being away at Otley Viscounts on 21st April 1990. Oakwood lost that game by 32-6. It must have been very difficult to keep players motivated at a club that achieved so few victories. Also the body blow of losing the dressing rooms must have depressed everyone involved. With such poor facilities and results, the Oakwood club was never going to attract the type of players who would raise standards sufficiently for the club to be able to join the Leagues. Possibly the players involved with Oakwood were happy to play at 3rd and 4th team level. Once the club really started to struggle for numbers on a Saturday I imagine that many of the players decided to move to more established local clubs who could turn full teams out regularly and had their own ground and clubhouse.
The Chirons name disappeared in 1988 and after the demise of Oakwood in 1990, rugby union was no longer played on the pitch that Leeds E.O.S.C. and Chirons had used for over sixty years.


If you played for Oakwood RUFC I would be interested to hear from you. Please get in touch.

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