GRFC Club History

Founded in 1937

The coming together and an idea forms

In the 1930s a group of young enthusiasts in the Greystones district at times arranged a Rugby football game during the Easter holiday period. The players were made up of schoolboys and others who had recently left school. They came mostly from Wesley College; Newbridge College; Presentation College Bray; St. Andrews College; Kings Hospital School; Christian Bros. College, Dun Laoghaire & Presentation College Glasthule. They played wherever they could find a field suitable as a pitch, one of these being a field beside Greystones-Delgany Road which contained a number of tennis courts. In the summer of 1937 a number of these young people including Leslie Doyle (Wesley College), Donal O’Sullivan (Newbridge College), Billy Dennihy (Presentation College, Glasthule), and Eric Archer (St. Andrew’s College) discussed the possibility of forming a Rugby Club in Greystones. During the following weeks the possibilities and problems were discussed. Where would they find some older people who would join the project – in particular some persons who had an interest in the game? Where would they find a playing pitch and some shelter for dressing? Where might they find senior persons of standing, with experience in the administrative side of the game? Amongst those who were approached and responded with enthusiasm to the proposal to form a Rugby Football Club were James Meldon, Charles Meldon, T. Archer, Jerry O’Sullivan (Snr), Arthur Agnew, R. Lambkin, Dick Dennehy, Alan O’Donnell, Frank Huet, Jerry O’Sullivan (Jnr), George Kendrick, Michael Gilvarry, Desmond Fogarty and Pat Hadoke.

An idea starts to take shape with the experience of the Malayan Rugby Union

Billy Dennehy and Donal O’Sullivan indicated that their fathers had been at school with Dr. J.J. Hickey, who had come to live in Greystones a year or two previously, and had been prominent in the game in Malaya and the Far East. Billy Dennehy’s father had also seen service in the East – in India- and had died at a comparatively young age in 1927. So it was decided to ask Dr. Hickey if he would join the venture. Niall Keeney, long serving club official, has described the approach of the young organisers to the formation of a club; they had realised that their task would be best achieved with the guidance of an experienced Rugby Administrator. To Dr. Jack Hickey, former president of the Malayan Rugby Football Union, the picturesque village of Greystones had seemed from the tropics an ideal retirement refuge. But it was too quiet and without a Rugby Club he was considering resettling, disillusioned, to a city, his native Cork, where at least the game was strong. Our four lads, Eric Archer, Bill Dennehy, Leslie Doyle and Donal O’Sullivan called on the good Doctor and listened enthralled to the stories of his Rugby experiences in foreign lands. The man who could successfully organise the train driver, guard, passengers and staff in a local station to search dense jungle for Malay’s only Rugby Ball which had accidentally left the train during a pre-match warm up, would surely be invaluable in the Club’s foundation. Charles V. Meldon, who lived a Beaconsfield, and had senior club experience, was also consulted and enthusiastically supported the effort. There was James M. Magee, brother of the legendary Louis, who like Charles Meldon had played for Bective and had been a member of a touring side – it would nowadays be called a “Lions Tour” – which visited South Africa in former years. The small youthful group and some older enthusiasts continued during the summer of 1937 to make all the many and necessary preparatory investigations and arranged to hold a meeting of supporters in October of that year.

A new club is formed is Greystones

On Friday October 15th 1937, at 8.15pm, in the Carnegie Library, a meeting was held to consider the formation of a Rugby Football Club in Greystones. In all twenty five people attended this meeting. On the proposition of Mr. Meldon seconded by Mr. F. Huet it was agreed that Dr. Hickey should act as Chairman of the meeting. Dr. Hickey then outlined to the meeting the essential requirements towards the setting up of a Club and after some discussion it was unanimously agreed that The Greystones Rugby Football Club be established, and Dr. Hickey as Chairman of this inaugural meeting shortly became its President. Mr Leslie Doyle was then unanimously appointed as Hon. Secretary of the new club. The securing of a playing pitch had already been investigated and there was a letter from Mr. Emerson, Agent for the Burnaby Estate, indicating that the Estate “would be willing to give use of a field and a pavilion to the club for the season i.e. from October 1937 to March 1938, at a charge of £6” This arrangement resulted from a visit by W. Dennehy and Eric Archer to the Agent and a degree of negotiation to obtain a reduction from £6 to £4. The amount also might be adduced as a reflection on the impact of inflation and building development in the intervening years. It was unanimously agreed that the offer of Mr. Emerson be accepted. It was indicated by Mr. W. Dennehy that Mr Eugene Davy of Landsdowne Club, and well known international player, had promised to present the club with a new ball. Club colours were also decided at this meeting and agreed on.

So there was established a club, with a pitch and small pavilion, a new ball, distinctive colours for players and by way of officers, an Honorary Secretary and Chairman, later to be designated President.

The application to the Leinster Branch to form a club was accepted and Greystones were allowed to play as a Metropolitan Club. Success on the field first arrived in 1944 when the club won the Met. League.The club would repeat the Met Cup success in 1996.

Senior status is awarded

In 1978, after a three-year “trial” period, Greystones were awarded Senior status and in that same year the first of our nine Irish internationals, Paul McNaughton was capped. Paul went on to win a total of 19 caps before relocating to the USA and was followed by John Robbie, Johnny Murphy, Tony Doyle, Tony Ward, Nick Popplewell, Brian Rigney, John Murphy and Reggie Corrigan, while Pieter Muller, South Africa  and Tom Curtis, Samoa also gained their countries highest playing honour. More recently Dylan Fawsitt, having gained residency status in the USA represented the Eagles at the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Victor Zelenka represented his native Hungary.

An integral part of the community and growing still

To this day our Club has grown in strength and numbers with our Mini and youths numbering over 600 boys and girls from the age of 6 to 18 playing each week. Our senior teams number four senior mens and one womens squad. We continue to strive for success at every level.

Greystones RFC is an integral part of the local community and provides everyone with the opportunity to play and enjoy rugby regardless of age, gender or ability. The special needs tag rugby team, our “Seagulls”, is a fully inclusive side for those with intellectual disabilities.

The town of Greystones is synonymous with Greystones Rugby Club and the success of the Rugby Club and its many representative players over the years is one of the main reason the town of Greystones is known throughout Ireland and beyond these shores.

We can safely say the spirit of our founders is all around us, a Club today we are all proud of, a pride we are certain they would share as we look forward to the years ahead with the excitement and joy our forefathers had when they met 80+ years ago.