Moseley Rugby Football Club are an English rugby union club, based at Billesley Common in Birmingham, that compete in National Division One. The club were historically the premier rugby club in Birmingham, reaching the final of the John Player Cup three times in the late 1970s and early 1980s. They originally played at the Reddings, but after attempting to keep up with the transition to professional rugby, the club ran into financial difficulties and was forced to sell their 125 year home to property developers. An unsuccessful 5 year spell based at the University of Birmingham followed, during which time they were relegated to National Division Two. In 2005 the club moved their new home at Billesley Common, and were promoted to National Division One in 2006.
Moseley was founded in 1873 by members of Havelock Cricket Club
who wanted a winter sport when the cricket season had finished. The club debuted its signature red and black colours one year later. The Reddings was leased by the club in 1880 and the club was traditionally called, like many rugby football clubs from either code, simply "Moseley Football Club" (a signpost from Alcester Road along Reddings Road in Moseley
, erected by Birmingham City Council
, pointed to "Moseley F.C. (R.U.)".) There were major successes at for Moseley in the early days of rugby, including a three year undeated run from 1879-82, which included winning the first Midland Counties Challenge Cup, and becoming the first team to defeat the travelling Maoris
in 1888. In 1890 John Rogers was the first Moseley player to win an international cap while at the club.
Moseley formed the backbone of the team which represented Great Britain at the 1900 Paris Olympics
winning a Bronze medal
. The team, known as Moseley Wanderers, played one game, a 27-8 defeat to France
at the Velodrome Municipal at Vincennes
. A report in The Times
suggested that fatigue was largely to blame, and at least 5 of the players are believed to have played for their respective clubs, in England, the day before the game
The Golden Years
The club acquired the freehold of The Reddings in 1925 and in 1935 the ground even staged an England trial game. Floodlights were installed in 1965 which allowed for an expanded fixture list and began Moseleys so called 'The Golden Years'. From this time onwards Moseley's fixture list routinely included the top sides in England and Wales
. The most successful years were the late 1960's and 1970's, this included reaching the RFU Knock-out cup
final on three occasions - losing 17-6 to Gloucester
and then 15-12 to Leicester
before emerging joint winners after drawing 12-12 with Gloucester after extra time in 1982. The team also defeated Fiji
and the Barbarians
and the club won the Anglo-Welsh Trophy twice - in 1972-1973 and 1976-1977.
When league rugby commenced, the team was placed in the Courage National Division 1, the top division at the time. They ended Bath's astonishing run of 22 unbeaten cup matches in 1988 winning 4-3.
The Professional Era
Building for the Future
The team's relegation from the top division at the end of the 1990-1991 season marked a consolidation period for the club after their fantastic times of the 1970's. In August 1995, when the door to full-scale professionalism opened, the board executives came together to work on plans to move with the idea and find possible financial resources so that the team could play with the best team and best facilities.
Administration - Leaving the Reddings
On 30th January 1998, the club went into Administration, after overstretching its financial resources in the unreal world of professional rugby union. The Reddings had been sold on a 'delayed sale' basis to Bryant Homes and the future of the club was in jeopardy. However, the club's playing commitments were still fulfilled except in the North Midlands Cup in which the 2nd XV was entered. On 12th June 1998, the club was given another chance to fashion its own destiny when a group of Moseley Rugby Club members, assembled by Simon Cooper, a former club player and official, formed Moseley Ventures Ltd. and bought the club out of Administration. In the last 1st XV match at The Reddings on 6 May 2000, Moseley defeated Worcester
34-17 in a National Division One game.
The Bournbrook Era - Crisis and Final Rescue
On 7 October Moseley defeated Exeter 27-18 in the first match at its new home at the University of Birmingham
in Bournbrook. The club stayed there until the end of the 2004/05 season.
Long-term permissions for a clubhouse and hospitality boxes was not granted and in consequence Moseley Ventures found it more difficult than expected to raise the necessary finance. Merger plans were discussed and an offer was made by Firoz Kassam, the chairman of Oxford United Football Club with a proposal to buy out the club and take it to his new stadium in Oxford. Supporters organized a major media and political campaign and this became the catalyst for a consortium of Moseley stalwarts to come forward to raise finance to defeat the Kassam offer. At a predictably traumatic meeting at the Grand Hotel on 26 July 2002, the consortium gained the support of the creditors by a narrow 1.7% majority regarded by some as a Pyrrhic victory. However, the consortium’s business plan was approved by the RFU and with additional backing by the politicians of the City of Birmingham and the North Midlands RFU, the club survived in Birmingham. So a new Moseley Rugby Club was born and appointed David Warren as Chief Executive and former players John Beale and Derek Nutt as Director of Rugby and Head Coach respectively.
Despite the success of the consortium in keeping the club in Birmingham, a large number of first-team regulars had left the club at the end of the 2001/02 season. The team hastily assembled from more junior ranks after the rescue was inevitably relegated from National Division One (after 14 seasons in the top two divisions).
Negotiations for planning permission for a new stadium at Billesley Common, in the same postal district as The Reddings, began and permission was obtained. On the playing front, after a difficult first half to the season, the team began to gel, and a strong run of results in the new year saw mid-table respectability achieved, forming a basis for future improvement.
In 2004/2005 Moseley finished third in National Division Two
, narrowly missing promotion behind Doncaster
. Nonetheless, the season saw many club records broken, and the era of lodging at Birmingham University ended with much optimism for the future.
The records broken were:
- Most team points: 665 points
- Most Consecutive Victories: 6
- Most individual points in a season: 328 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most conversions in a season: 48 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most penalties in a season: 62 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most drop goals in a season: 7 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most consecutive scoring matches (points): 15 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most league appearances: 161 (Andy Binns)
- Most penalties in a career: 62 (Ollie Thomas)
- Most consecutive matches: 70 (and counting - Gareth Taylor)
The first season at the new stadium on Billesley Common saw Moseley installed as favourites to gain promotion to higher echelons of the English game. Coaches Ian Smith and Don Caskie, along with Director of Rugby John Beale assembled an exceptionally strong team, now including ex-Premiership players Neil Mason
and Daren O'Leary
. Moseley topped the table
for much of the season and indeed finished as champions ahead of Waterloo
. Both teams gained promotion to National Division One.
After the euphoria of promotion, the new season was predictably much more difficult for fans and players alike. Most of the promotion-winning squad was retained, with some judicious additions, and early games showed promise, including a defeat of highly-fancied Bedford
. However, a string of defeats up to Christmas against top teams, with even bonus points being hard to come by, left Moseley facing a difficult task to survive. A brief rally in December and January, including a win against traditional "best enemies" Coventry
proved vital in the long run, and towards the end of the season, with Waterloo
already doomed, Otley
flagged badly enough for Moseley to overhaul them and win a deserved second season in National One.
For this season, a highly imaginative agreement was made with Gloucester
whereby all of Gloucester's England Academy players were dual-registered with Moseley, enabling them to get competitive match experience when not required by the Gloucester 1st XV. The club finished the season in an improved 10th place with 12 wins and a draw, beating every side from 7th downwards either home or away. Two victories against top six sides included Nottingham (3rd) away and Cornish Pirates (5th) at home. A lack of bonus points meant that whilst they had the same playing record (W12 D1) they finished 6 points adrift of 8th placed Plymouth.
The new season will commence with the dual-registration agreement with Gloucester still in place, although refined in detail, and the bulk of the previous season's squad retained with some judicious recruitment in particular positions. Optimism at the club remains high for the future.
Moseley play at Billesley Common
, on a section of the common leased from Birmingham City Council
. The facilities include (temporary) clubhouse, covered stand (from September 2007), changing facilities, club shop, hospitality boxes and educational facility. The first XV pitch is extremely highly-rated for its playing surface. There are also pitches for 2nd/development XV, colts, women, minis and juniors, and an all-weather pitch featuring the latest rubber-crumb technology.
Plans have been drawn up for the replacement of the temporary facilities by permanent buildings within the limits of the existing stadium. These were exhibited to the general public in July 2007, and will enable the club to expand its visitor capacity and improve hospitality facilities. Outline permission has been granted by Birmingham City Council for these facilities.
- The Cup
- Winners 1982 (joint holders)
- Runners-up 1972, 1979
- Anglo-Welsh Trophy
Recent League Positions (end of season)
2007-08 - National Division One
- 10th (16 teams in league)
2006-07 - National Division One - 14th (16)
2005-06 - National Division Two
- 1st (14) and promoted
2004-05 - National Division Two - 3rd (14)
2003-04 - National Division Two - 10th (14)
2002-03 - National Division One - 13th (14) and relegated
2001-02 - National Division One - 11th (14)
2000-01 - National Division One - 10th (14)
1999-2001 - Allied Dunbar Premiership Two
- 7th (14)
1998-99 - Allied Dunbar Premiership Two - 10th (14)
1997-98 - Allied Dunbar Premiership Two - 6th (12)
1996-97 - Courage National Division Two
- 8th (12)
1995-96 - Courage National Division Two - 6th (10)
1994-95 - Courage National Division Two - 6th (10)
1993-94 - Courage National Division Two - 5th (10)
1992-93 - Courage National Division Two - 6th (13)
1991-92 - Courage National Division Two - 7th (13)
1990-91 - Courage National Division One
- 12th (13) and relegated
1989-90 - Courage National Division One - 11th (12)
1988-89 - Courage National Division One - 10th (12)
1987-88 - Courage National Division One - 7th (12)
- National Challenge 2 Midlands West
Moseley field a full range of teams from the professional level of the 1st XV through all age groups. These are as follows:
- 1st XV - Professional team, competing in National Division 1, the second tier of the RFU league "pyramid".
- "A" Team - 2nd XV. During 2007/08 this was run jointly with Gloucester Rugby, playing in the Guinness "A" League, but with Gloucester's withdrawal from that league, new arrangements will be necessary.
- Development XV - Overlaps with "A" team, providing opportunities for younger players in challenging fixtures
- Women's XV - Plays in National Challenge Midlands 1 league from 2008/09.
- Moseley Oak (formerly Selly Oak RUFC) - Amateur XV affiliated to Moseley, also playing at Billesley Common, in Midlands Div 4 West (North).
- Colts - U19 and U17 age groups, competing in National and County competitions.
- Juniors - U16, U15, U14 and U13 age group teams, playing friendly games against other local clubs .
- Minis - U7 to U12, and Micros for the very youngest. All except micros play friendly matches against other local clubs. Girls and boys play in the same teams up to U12.
Current 1st XV squad
This list includes players on loan as well as permanent squad members.
# Retained from 2007/08 squad
+ Full international cap
* England Academy - dual-registered with Gloucester
Notable former players
* Capped by country while at the club
§ Captain of England
† British Lions international cap
was, as full back
, record points scorer for Moseley
in the season 1972-1973. He died of cancer
in 1977. Fifteen international rugby union stars played a memorial match against Moseley, played to a packed Reddings.
When Moseley moved to their new ground at nearby Billesley Common in 2005, 28 years later, many suggested that it should be called the Sam Doble Stadium.