England’s early exit from the Rugby Union World Cup means the role that Wimbledon Village played in the development of the modern game could well remain under wraps.
Six years after the formation of Wimbledon Rugby Club – which is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year – club captain Leonard James Maton wrote the modern-day laws of rugby while recovering from a broken leg at his Homefield Road address in the heart of Wimbledon Village.
The story starts in 1865 when the Surrey Comet newspaper carried a report that Wimbledon Hornets, as the team was first known, played its first game on Boxing Day against Richmond Rugby Club.
On 26 January 1871, Maton – a practising lawyer – represented Wimbledon at a meeting of 19 rugby clubs at the Pall Mall Restaurant in London that resulted in the formation of the Rugby Football Society.
After being elected onto the society’s executive committee, Maton was one of three former Rugby School pupils asked to draw up the game’s modern rules. Maton’s injury meant he took on the bulk of the work, which by the time it was complete made hacking illegal.
In his book A Game for Hooligans, author Huw Richards notes that Maton’s reward was “a supply of tobacco from his fellow drafters”, although he also went on to become president of the Rugby Football Union in 1875.
Here at Robert Holmes & Co, we’re sure Leonard James Maton would have been as disappointed with England’s performance in this year’s World Cup as we and other England supporters are.
But the present day Wimbledon Rugby Club, which played on Wimbledon Common until World War One and used the Rose and Crown pub in Wimbledon Village as its clubhouse and changing rooms, has an active role promoting the sport among the younger members of the local community.
Now based in Barham Road, south of Wimbledon Common, Wimbledon Rugby Club runs a thriving minis and youth section and in a bid to promote women’s rugby is calling on girls in all school years to join its new female youth team.
Unlike their male counterparts, the England Women’s team won the World Cup in 2014 and the Wimbledon club says girls who join the training sessions being held every Sunday between on 10am and 11.30am will be coached by members of its already successful women’s team who want nothing more to see youngsters new to the game become the next generation of star players.
The club advises girls to bring along a gum shield gum, trainers or football boots and wet weather gear if it looks like rain.
Here at Robert Holmes & Co, our history does not stretch back quite as far as that of Wimbledon Rugby Club, but we do have an enviable record of helping people from all over the world become part of the Wimbledon community.
If you are looking to sell your home or buy a property in Wimbledon or nearby areas of Surrey and south-west London, please get in touch with our Wimbledon Village office.