A potted history of Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC

Kirkby Lonsdale rugby club. Picture was taken at the end of the 2016/2017 season when Kirkby went undefeated throughout the season and racked up the highest points total in all English rugby that season. Skipper Ben Walker dealing with the champagne and his proud mum Ruth looking on in the hat.
Kirkby Lonsdale rugby club. Picture was taken at the end of the 2016/2017 season when Kirkby went undefeated throughout the season and racked up the highest points total in all English rugby that season. Skipper Ben Walker dealing with the champagne and his proud mum Ruth looking on in the hat.
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Kirkby Lonsdale RUFC was founded in 1877.

Kirkby was one of a large number of small clubs that sprung up in Westmorland and north Lancashire around that time.

Its black, red and amber colours are also those of ‘I-Zingari’ a London based gentleman’s sporting club of that time, their motto being – out of darkness (black), through fire (red), into the light (amber) and this sums up Kirkby very well.

As the game evolved clubs in the larger nearby towns of Lancaster and Kendal merged to form bigger clubs and the small Kirkby club would have found itself a little side-lined in those times when clubs themselves pretty much chose who they played against.

Kirkby was then a minnow alongside Lancaster’s Vale of Lune and Kendal but Kirkby never lost sight of who it was and what it stood for.

Time moved on and in the early 1980s those with foresight at Kirkby established a Mini and Youth organisation.

Today this is one of the largest and best managed in the North West of England and still growing with groups at every age level from five upwards, including girls and women’s rugby.

As the organisation evolved mini and youth, rugby gradually broadened the playing base of the club pyramid eventually producing players of first team standard.

An in-house conveyor belt of talent which coincided with the formation of leagues in the mid 1980s and created the platform for the clubs modern success in the league structure.

This is the structure clubs play in today with promotion and relegation and this opened up the earlier ‘closed shop’ type playing relationships between the bigger clubs.

Kirkby’s steady progression up the leagues eventually saw it on level terms last season 2018/2019 alongside Vale and Kendal in the Northern Premier League, level 5 in the RFU structure. And in this season history was made when Kirkby Lonsdale retained its league status and the former powerhouse clubs Vale and Kendal were both relegated.

This reconstructs the hierarchy of local and Cumbrian rugby with Kirkby Lonsdale for the first time in its 142 year history sitting higher than its local rivals and, modestly but proudly, at the top of Cumbrian rugby.

By Cammie Hodgkinson, Ist XVmatch reporter.