Randalstown Rugby Football Club (RRFC) celebrated its 50 year anniversary recently in 1999, the club having been founded in 1947. Those early years with just one side the club enjoyed successive promotion over the 5 following years.
The founding of RRFC can be considered in 3 parts, as described by its founder member the Rev. William Hanna, M.A., writing in 1949 (rather like a sermon as he himself remarked!).
The first stage took place in the month of May 1945, when somewhere along the main street of Randalstown a conversation took place between the Rev. Hanna and a well known exponent of centre half play on the soccer field – Jimmy Hume. As a result of this conversation a challenge was issued to Ballymena Academy 1 st XV to play a rugby match. Hearing that a well known cruiserweight champion Alec Woods was taking the field for Randalstown, Academy duly took all precautions, and so including in their side all available games masters in order to strengthen their team. As it turned out, these precautions were unnecessary as Randalstown were well beaten. An old silver cup was unearthed and donated for the game and so was born the Hume Cup, which was keenly contested up until only a few years ago.
The second part of the club’s history is very brief but vital. According to the Rev. Hanna, it may be significant that religion at this point in time entered the reckoning and played a part. A challenge was issued by a Drummaul Parish Church XV to ‘all and sundry Presbyterians’. The game, watched by the entire village, was billed as the ‘greatest battle since the Boyne’, but a surprising amount of good rugby was played and from this confrontation phase three emerged.
A village team was selected from these 2 XV’s and played against the RAF at Aldergrove. Following this a meeting was held in the Parochial Hall and Randalstown Rugby Football Club was born.
The club has since had its ups and downs. In the fifties and early sixties it made its mark on the Ulster rugby scene, being one of the most successful junior clubs – at that time playing against teams that have since achieved senior status.
At present the club has 2 senior teams and a very strong youth set up, so who knows what the future holds.