Two Skipton Clubs Working Together!

skipton rugby club

Regular visitors to The Skipton Press will have seen my articles about Skipton Craven Rotary Club and that we as a club are keen to support all aspects of opportunities for the youth of our locality.

So we are happy to say that we have linked up with another great Skipton Club, the Skipton Rugby Club to help them with their “Junior” teams down at their Sandylands home each Sunday morning,

We have donated £250 to the Rugby Club to enable them to purchase 45 Rugby Balls of various sizes to be used by the different age groups from under 7 to under 17 ( boys and girls).

I went to the Club ground on Sunday morning and was amazed by the number of players there and the sense of Community Spirit and enthusiasm for the game and the town from the children  parents and coaches ( led by Pete Fairless George Gibbs and Warren Burnett). I am sure that the balls that have been purchased with our donation will benefit lots of local children for years to come.

It was also good to see that the Club are also putting back into the local community. They recently held a Family Fun Day at the club, primarily to raise funds for themselves, however they did wish to donate some of the money raised to the local community and have given £400 to Airedale Hospital Maternity Unit. Well Done to the Club!

Here are some pictures I took whilst at Sandylands. As well as receiving £250 from Skipton Craven Rotary they have also received funds from Kip McGrath Educational Tuition towards the costs of team shirts for the Junior Section Teams.

Skipton Rugby Skipton Rugby 2

I remember this stand from my childhood days in Skipton in 1960’s . The changing rooms were underneath the seating area then and there was a tunnel for the players right in the middle.

Visiting the Club made we want to look into the history of the club and it turns out that our home town club has a very illustrious past.

The Club has been playing matches since 1874. This makes it one of the oldest clubs in England given that the Rugby Football Union (RFU) was only founded three years earlier in 1871.  One of the first players was one of the Dewhurst family who ran the town’s famous cotton mill and who lived in the house in Aireville Park which now contains Aireville School.

The Club can still call itself Skipton RFC, as opposed to RUFC. This is because it was founded before the breakaway Rugby League came into existence in 1895. Any club formed after this date has to call itself RUFC (for example Wharfedale formed as Upper Wharfedale RUFC in 1923) or RLFC (Keighley Cougars RLFC) to differentiate between the two codes. Any team dating back to pre-1895 can proudly call itself RFC.

In the period up until the First World War Skipton RFC was one of the best teams in Yorkshire and won the prestigious Yorkshire Cup on three occasions. It is worth remembering that there were no leagues in Rugby Union in this period so the only silverware that could be won was The Cup and consequently matches were very hotly contested and it was a top honour to win The Yorkshire Cup. Other non-cup matches, although being full blooded encounters were classed as friendlies, no league format existed so it was difficult to, apart from The Cup, gauge who was best.

Skipton even had International Players: J Knox played 3 times for Scotland and J Green 8 for England

Skipton Rugby 3

There were several controversial finals of the Cup, including one when Castleford were stripped of the trophy and it was awarded to Skipton following Castleford fielding an ineligible player. There was another final when it appears that Skipton were discriminated against by the Yorkshire RFU and referee in the final (Skipton lost) versus Headingley.

Reminiscent (but before) of Brazil in Association Football being awarded the Jules Rimet Cup for winning the World Cup three times, Skipton were awarded the Yorkshire Cup outright for being the first team to win it three times.

The club has had its HQ in several of the pubs in town ( Craven Hotel , Brick Hall ( now Woolly Sheep), Unicorn , Ship, Midland (now Herriot’s)) but since the 1950’s it has had its own Clubhouse. The original one is at the left of the stand as you look from the playing surface and the new one on the right which came in the 1970’s when Sandylands Sports Centre was built. My previous article on The Skipton Press about Pubs of Skipton mentions some of these.

Below is the team in 1974. Who remembers any of these players?

Skipton Rugby 4

During the period after the Second World War the Skipton Club floundered somewhat ( despite being in the 1949 Cup final) as successful teams at Wharfedale ( Threshfield)and Ribblesdale (Settle) siphoned off players but there was a renaissance when the Rugby Union League Pyramid was introduced and Skipton are now moving upwards and are sitting currently in Yorkshire League Three. We at Skipton Craven Rotary hope that our rugby balls will help the development of some good players but most of all we hope it helps youngsters in our area to have fun. I wonder if the Club can get back to the pinnacle of Yorkshire Rugby.

If you are interested in Rotary here is our website  and see more of the history of Skipton RFC at 


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