Club History

The actual inaugural date for the establishment of the Bath Civil Service RFC (now Bath Saracens RFC) is now lost in the annuls of time and myth. Its forerunner was, in fact, the old Admiralty RFC which, before the second world war was very well known in Civil Service and London rugger circles – and which numbered among its achievements the winning of the Civil Service Rugby Cup in 1936, and reaching the final in the same competition in 1938.

Like many other sporting organisations, the Admiralty RFC languished during the war years. However the club did gradually evolve from the transfer of staff during the second world war from Admiralty, Whitehall, to HQ departments in Bath, the establishment of hostels in Bath for staff moving from the Royal Dockyards etc, and the famous (or in-famous) ‘Anchor Club’ in Pultney Street.

What is certain is that the club was formed on a permanent basis on 13th March 1947, as the Admiralty (Bath) Rugby Football Club. Thus the 1947-48 season was the Club’s first and relatively successful season, winning 10 of the 23 matches played. For the first few years they played on many different grounds which lacked even the simplest facilities, but all this changed with the formation of the Civil Service Sports Association (Bath Area) in summer 1951, when the Club renamed itself Bath Civil Service Rugby Football Club. The club house was located in a large prefabricated hut at Norwood (now Bath University). Compared with today the facilities could be described as somewhat primitive, but luxuriant when compared with some opposition clubs which comprised a single tin bath for 15 players, usually in the back of a pub.

It was on 16th February 1952 that for the first time the Club was able to play on its own ground which afforded all the normal facilities. It would have been very nice to have recorded a great victory on that day, but the Club lost 31 points to nil against Newport Civil Service! During the 1952-53 season, two teams were fielded each week for the first time in the history of the Club. Results improved gradually – season 1954-55’s fixture list, comprising of 63 matches, included the Club’s first-ever tour – to Devon, at Easter. During the season 1955-56 the Club’s colours were changed from navy blue to the present navy blue, cardinal red and gold.

In the 60’s and 70’s membership of the club was very transient with as much as 30% turnover in one year. During the late 60’s the peak was the running of four teams but within three years it was down to just one. Arranging fixtures for a year ahead was a real headache. In 1970 the Civil Service Club moved along the road to its current site at Claverton Down to make way for the University to be built. Click here to see an action photograph of that day.

Because of the increasing proportion of non-Civil Servants within the membership, the Club’s name was changed to Bath Saracens in 1992. The Civil Service Sports Association then (ironically) sold the ground to Bath University in 1999, and we have continued to use their facilities ever since.

One of our VP’s, Hugh Sawyer, has now taken on responsibility for the ‘Club Annals’. This is a historical record of the Club since its inception, containing photographs, fixture lists and anything else of interest connected with the Club, bound in a very impressive (although rather musty smelling!) leather ledger, bearing the Admiralty “fouled anchor” crest and the motto “Hunc Librum”, and dated 1948. This was donated by Vice President George C Sanderson – a Cheshire County player at the turn of the 20th century (1900-07, gaining 19 caps), who became an avid supporter.

Although started up enthusiastically enough at the outset it is rather wanting from the 60’s onwards, and Hugh has to arrange loads of items into order and then fill in as many of the gaps as possible. It will take time to co-ordinate this, but in the meantime if anyone has any items which they think would be useful, such as newsletters, photos or press-clippings, could you please get in touch with him. You can check whether items are already held by referring to this checklist. If you submit items, please make it clear whether they are donated, or lent for copying. Hugh promises to protect anything he borrows, and return it safely!

Anyone wanting to see the Annals can get in touch with Hugh. It is his intention to bring it along to VP sessions and other Club occasions when it is more up to date. If there are items of interest to anyone they can be copied off for those wanting memorabilia, although a small charge will need to be made to cover costs.

Please help if you can to contribute to this record of our Club’s history and achievements.