This is an extremely unique kind of club feature. It's one where we don't really discuss the club's pre-season goals and expectations, or who their local sponsors are. No, instead we chat about whether or not they manage to field a 1st XV each week, and where they play, considering they don't have a clubhouse or set of pitches to their name.
This is Racal Decca, one of the smallest rugby clubs in the world, populated by a group of men who live and breathe rugby and appreciate the game for what it is at its very core; an extremely fun and social sport. They may be one of the smallest clubs in the world but the spirit of their small squad would be a match for any of the world's largest grassroots clubs.
We spoke to Sean Phelan of Racal Decca and learned a great deal about this brilliant club - you may be shocked by some of what you read!
What are the usual training / match day numbers for the club and when they're low, how do you get around them?
We probably have 8-12 each week for training but we only train July-September in a local park while we have the light evenings! Training is very much a mixed bag and is mainly ball handling and fitness based, rather than scrummaging and lineouts.
Match day numbers also vary. We obviously aim to get 15 out each week, yet it’s not easy and not always the case so we have to use the amazing and brilliant Fill Your Boots to help us find those extra few bodies.
We try to make every game happen, and whether we have 15 or not, the lads still turn up ready to play. Sometimes we may have to borrow players but we try to make cancellations as rare as possible.
Since you rent the pitch you play on and have no clubhouse, where's the base for the squad?
Racal Decca have had a couple of bases. We used to play out of the Decca Sports Ground opposite Tolworth Railway station, which had a great clubhouse but awful changing facilities.
We moved playing grounds to Kingston University’s playing fields about 13yrs ago when the Decca sports ground ousted us due to them wanting more football being played. The Kingston pitches are like a snooker table; the best in Surrey I’d say. We now call this our home, as we drink and change there as well.
Any notable stalwarts / one club men at Racal Decca?
We have a great group of old lads who still come down and contribute to the club. Our President, Tony Downing has been playing since the early 1980s, Mick Phelan has had every role possible in the club and is still active, and I have to mention our recently retired Hooker, Graham Cook, who decided to call it a day aged 65! He had been playing since the 1970s!
At the end of every season we hold a Testimonial Day for one of our stalwarts. This year the recipient was our Second Row, David Bealing. It’s always a great day. For new members, it gives them a chance to hear stories and drink with some of our legends and for the rest it’s a chance to come down and see us, and chat about old times!
Tell us a bit about the Smallest Rugby Club World Cup...
SRCWC was the brainchild of Mick Phelan who came up with the idea to celebrate clubs like us who don't have all the facilities or the glamour of other clubs. We crowd-funded the entire event thanks to exposure on Rugby Tonight and being in Land Rover's Rugby World Cup campaign film with Jonny Wilkinson, Bryan Habana and Matt Giteau, amongst others.
The event was organised by members of Racal Decca and was hosted at our ground in Tolworth. It took place right at the start of the RWC 2015, in September 2015. We had 8 teams taking part, including teams from Wales and Malta and although one team did pull out the night before, which caused a panic, we created a Barbarians Team in which anyone could have a game and be part of the event.
We were so lucky to have Sir Clive Woodward and LaToya Mason come along and support the day. There were 3 trophies up for grabs, the World Cup that was won by Cottenham Renegades, the Shield won by Black Horse RFC & the Cuddly Toy, which was won by Old Oundelian RFC. It was a great day!
As a small club with limited resources, do you manage to get yourselves away for a summer tour?
We go to some great locations on our tours, all organised by our Tour Manager, Dev Anand. In recent years we have been to Berlin where we played the Berlin Bruisers, thanks to #RugbyUnited for helping us find a game!
Other tours have included, Krakow, Lisbon, Hamburg, Sofia and this year Zagreb. We have great times out anywhere we go and we love when we go to the local clubs, play rugby, have copious amounts of beer, and play silly games. Their may be language barriers but their isn't barriers when rugby is involved.
We wish the lads all the best with the upcoming season and salute them as a wonderful grassroots rugby club.