The Old Ignatians’ Rugby Football Club was formed in 1969 and consisted of just one team that forfeited its first match due to an unfortunate clash with that year’s Head of the River.
Let no one say that this GPS Old Boys Club doesn’t have its priorities firmly sorted.
When we did finally take to the paddock the week after, it was to draw six all with the Newport Breakers, a team we were still running around with up to the year 2000. An eventful first season saw Iggies make it all the way to the Grand Final only to lose 3 nil to Whale Beach in what was to be the first of several early disappointments.
Through the early 70’s the Club increased its presence to 3 teams and put together three more Grand Final defeats before finally securing our first Premiership with a Blunt Cup victory (for third grade) in 1974.
Following the departure of a chunk of the playing staff about the time big collars were really achieving their full potential, the Club became once again a one team show, then rallied magnificently to win the Meldrum Cup in 78 and the Jeffrey in 79 (by which time we were fielding two teams). In 83 both teams made the semis and by 84 the Club was back to fielding three grades. In 86, when the 2nd Grade side shared the Grose Cup with Willoughby, it was four.
Hello 1st Division
In 1987 1st Grade won the McLean Cup and deciding that winning 1st Grade premierships was in fact one of the better ways to spend time at the end of a football season, the Barraclough in 1988. Hardly satisfied with that success, we also took out the Club Championship in that year booking the Club’s place in 1st Division for it’s 20th season.
In 1989 we fielded a 5th Grade side for the first time and in 91 1st Grade contested the Kentwell Cup final against Matraville taking us to the highest level any side had attained to that time.
Where did all those other Clubs come from?
In 1993 the 1st division of Suburban Rugby merged with what was then the Metropolitan Competition to form a 20 team comp aimed at sorting the wheat from the chaff in second tier Sydney footy. The top ten teams would form the new 1st Division while the bottom half would combine the next year in a 20 team 2nd Division comp and so on and so on until everyone had a home in the brave new rugby world. Turned out we were chaff and it was back to 2nd Division for us.
All a cunning plan of course, that allowed us to regroup in 2nd Division without the stigma generally attached to sides that get themselves dropped on their lonesome. And a mere 3 seasons later we secured four Premierships (including one for the Colts side formed just a few years earlier), a nail biting win in the Club Championship (to land us back in 1st Division) and of course the undying hostility of the Gordon Rugby Club who won’t be taking our booking again for a presentation dinner anytime in the next millennium. 1996 was without doubt the most outstanding year in our history to that point.
4th Grade gave us our first 1st Division title in 1997 when they defeated Waverly 8 – 5 to secure the Judd Cup. We also got our hands on another first past the post Halligan Cup in 6th Grade, fielded 7 sides and registered over 200 players all busting a gut to run around for The Old Ignatians. Of course, any discussion of the year 1997 would be incomplete if it didn’t mark the launch of Iggies onto the World Wide Web thanks almost completely to the creator of this site’s predecessor John Bain.
Welcome Back 1st Division
1998 rolled around and the Club really started its move up the Club Championship table with a fourth place finish. Five teams were still in it come the end of the season proper and 3 were still on the dance floor come the last weekend. 3rd Grade took out the Whiddon Cup while Fours and Fives stumbled at the final hurdle. Australian Rugby Review gave us their Club of the Month award in September (one or two of the now disintegrating t-shirts that made up the prize for this honor can still be seen at the odd training).
At the completion of the Clubs 30th year (1999 for the mathematically challenged) Iggies were 2nd on the Club Championship table, all 6 teams had made the semis, we were named Suburban Club of the Year by the NSWSRU and were the holders of the 2nd and 5th Grade trophies (2nd grade securing theirs in what can only be described as a bloodbath boil over at sunny Concord Oval against a Mosman 2nd Grade that was quite frankly expected to wipe the floor with us).
The Golden Years
In the year 2000 we finally got our hands on the Bruce Graham Shield as Suburban 1st division Club Champions achieving heights undreamed of only a few years earlier. Showing complete disregard for the script so painstakingly prepared by the Club throughout the year, our opponents (I suspect gleefully) elected to deny us any of that lovely silverware save the Colts Trophy that we were obliged to share with Hunters Hill after an 11 all draw.
St Ives made a good run of it in 2001 but failed to stop us winning the Bruce Graham Shield for the second year. You couldn’t turn around at Boronia Park on a Wednesday night without bumping into some guy wanting to play for Old Ignatians and playing depth undreamt of pushed every team into the semis and 2’s, Colts and 5’s into the winners circle at TG Milner in September. The Burke Cup win over Pats became (for only a year as it turned out) the Clubs highest Premiership Honour (as well as being unexpectedly comfortable). 5’s completed their year undefeated.
And So On To 2002
Iggies amassed a record 1058 points in the Club Championship to retain the Shield for a 3rd year, finished minor premiers in First to Fifth Grade (Colts and Sixes came second), we were named Club of the Year by Subbies AND Australian Rugby Review and had teams in every Grand Final we were legally allowed to have them in. All of which was completely brilliant. We won Fours. We won Threes. And finally, after 32 years of hard graft, one night a week training, build it from the bottom, have a good time with your mates, effort – our First Grade side won the highest honour in Suburban Rugby, The Kentwell Cup. And everyone was very happy. Very very happy.’
As countless Club officials took great pains to point out to the rank and file come the beginning of the 2003 season, the hard thing about succeeding beyond your wildest dreams, is pushing on with it afterwards. If Club Championship wins and lower grade premierships had seen the Club pop up on the radar in earlier years, the 1st Grade triumph in 2002 ensured that everyone had seen us coming and would be as ready as they could possibly be in 2003. Sadly, the Kentwell Cup, though defended valiantly by a 1st Grade squad plagued with injuries, was lost to a very talented Dundas Valley team in the Grand Final. Which would have been a greater cause for misery had the Club not once again retained the Bruce Graham Shield and captured Premierships in 2nd, 4th and 5th Grade. All teams competed in the Finals series and everyone bar 3rd Grade made their Grand Finals.
The Recent Years
The last few years have not lived up to those that preceded them. Although with such heights to climb, it is no wonder. Lower grade premierships in 4s and 5s continue in 2004, 2005 and 2006 however the strength we had seen in the higher grades had disappeared.
2007 was the first year we did not have a team in the grand final. 4s and 3s made the semis but were both bundled out by the winners. We saw Operation Buffer come into play – a concerted effort by club, administrators and club supporters to keep us in division 1. Which we achieved prior to the second last round. 2008 brought a renewed club. The Code Red Strategy was put in place from mid 2007 year to bring Old Iggies back to the rightful place as a powerhouse in the first division sub-districts rugby competition.
In 2008, Old Iggies and Code Red did just that. A renewed energy came with new coaches, a new training regime and a lot of new faces joining the old. The year grew in performance and expectations with 5 teams making the finals and four making the GF. Highlights of the season was two quality first grade wins including Colleagues and a thrashing of Knox. With the Red Express (“Toot Toot”) bringing the club home, the Barbour, Sutherland and Judd Cups returned to the trophy cabinet where they belong.
2009 was the 40th anniversariy of the club
2013 Sutherland Cup Champions
2014 The season awaits
Go you Red Men.