Nickname: The Blue and Whites
Ground: High House – Kingsbridge, Devon, UK, TQ7 1JL
League: Western Counties (West)
The first game played by the club was on a Thursday afternoon (half day closing) on 21st November 1889. The match was against the clubs closest rivals, Salcombe The early matches were played at Tacket Wood Hill but in 1891 a more appropriate field on West Alvington Hill was secured for play. In 1897 however the team was forced to move to Tunnel Field at Coombe Royal alongside the old railway line. For a brief period after the First World War the club amalgamated with Salcombe (as they were unable to find a ground of their own) to form Kingsbridge and Salcombe United RFC and matches were played at Buttville Hill. However in 1921 the one team re-emerged as two clubs.
In 1922 the Club played its home matches at Southville on the High House Estate but in 1923 it moved to its present, but unleveled field. As the High House site had now been broken up the Club had the opportunity to purchase the field from its owner George Hellens. Whilst this eventually took three years to achieve on 22nd June 1926 the current Ground at High House was purchased outright and has remained in the Clubs ownership ever since. To celebrate the purchase of the ground the Club built a Grandstand with a capacity of 102 on the site of the present clubhouse.
In 1932 two new dressing rooms were erected under the grandstand and this meant that visiting teams no longer had to change down in the town.
In 1935 the players decided to change the colour of their jerseys from the old black and red to an all white jersey and blue shirts. Since this time the club has stuck to blue and white although the combination has frequently changed.
In 1947 the fixtures were moved from High House to Belle Hill, where they enjoyed a record season of losing only two matches out of 36 played, to allow for the pitch to be levelled. Some of the fixtures were played on a second field called Longfield (between the High House pitch and Little Field). Ironically enough this is now the site of the new pitch (added in 1999) hence the name.
The new re-leveled High House pitch was re-opened on 8th September 1948 when the Club entertained Exeter in front of a crowd of 1300 spectators. Kingsbridge only narrowly lost 13-6 to the mighty Exeter.
In 1949 the club celebrated its Diamond Jubilee as we had been unable to celebrate the Golden Jubilee in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War Two.
In 1953 a new club room was opened behind the Grandstand and cost £800.00.
In 1955 fixtures were again resumed with Salcombe after a gap of some 31 years. The feud that had erupted in 1924 due to the movement of a player between the clubs was finally laid to rest.
In 1960 a larger clubhouse was created and draught beer was served at the Club for the first time. In 1962 the club took part in its first overseas tour with a visit to Isigny (Kingsbridge’s twin town) and Caen.
In 1968 the Clubhouse and timber stand were demolished and a new Clubhouse was built on the foundations. That Clubhouse remains in place today. In 1969 Michael Hobbs set a new club points scoring record of 305 point in what was a hugely successful season for himself and the team.
The 1970′s were one of the most successful periods in the clubs history. All forms of records were set including 1971/72 when only two matches were lost out of 39 played and in 1974/75 when Tim Kingdom scored 39 tries.
In the early 1980′s the club faced its most difficult period when a number of players all retired from playing at the same time. The clubs finances struggles and in 1985 the club very nearly went out of business altogether.
However in the later years of the 1980′s saw a revival and the club found itself solvent again.
In 1989 the Club celebrated its centenary with a year packed with specially organised matches.
A new Committee and Club Officers had been elected in 1988 and a more sociable era was being enjoyed.
The advent of Leagues in 1987 provided the club with a new challenge and despite being relegated from their starting position in Devon Division One in 1989 they took the challenge within their stride.
During the Centenary Season the Kingsbridge fly half Chris Bowles (pictured opposite) set a new individual points scoring record of 339 points. Bowles later went on to captain Kingsbridge through the most successful period in the clubs history between 1992/94 and 1997/98.
In 1990 the club found itself in Devon Division 2b before finding its way back to Devon Division 1 via league restructuring. In 1994/95 the club enjoyed one of its most successful seasons ever and the team were turned into stars as they found themselves under the media spotlight. The reason being that they had reached the last four of the National Pilkington Shield and with the prospect of playing in the Final in the hallowed turf of Twickenham. The dream did not become a reality but the team made a lot or new friends along the way.
The following year 1995/96 the team had to build on the success that they had enjoyed the previous year and take it into the leagues. This they did to great effect by capturing the Devon Division One title and also the Devon Junior Cup for the first time to achieve the wonderful ‘League and Cup Double’ The question now was how would they cope in the higher Devon and Cornwall League, the highest league position that the club had played. The answer was that they took everyone before them and won that league at the first attempt. They also won the Devon Junior Cup again (beating hosts Newton Abbot 0-48 in the Final) to clinch their second successive ‘League and Cup Double’, the ‘Double Double’
In 1997/98 bought the challenge of Western Counties rugby and yet more success. After a hard season the team thankfully missed out on promotion but finished as runners up to St Austell. This had been some long run of success and second in the Western Counties (West) League is still to date the highest league position that the club has reached. Unfortunately the following year 1998/99 saw the team relegated as bottom club. This was a mighty close league this year as only four points separated third and bottom. Still the team returned to the Devon and Cornwall league in 1999/2000 and finished a respectable mid-table.
Now we reach the present day and despite being relegated again (back to Devon Division One) as five teams from the ten team league were sent down, the club secured the Devon Junior Cup for the third time in six years as they defeated Cullompton in the Final at High House in May.
A full history of the Club can be found in the Centenary Book ‘Kingsbridge and The Handling Code’ which was produced by Steve Ball in 1989. Copies are available from the club at £4.00 each.