Old Hackney RFC BadgeRugby has been played in this part of London since the sport’s earliest days, and Upper Clapton (founded in 1879) played on Springhill Sports Ground from the late nineteenth century. The club as it is now was formed in 1963 as an “old boys” club for former pupils of the Woodberry Downs Comprehensive School. The club was soon opened to the local community, yet continues to wear the school’s colours and 6th form logo.

Hackney RFC’s recent past has to a large extent been determined by the destruction of the clubhouse in April 1999. At the beginning of the 1998/1999 Season, the Senior Club fielded 4 sides, with the 1st XV competing in London 3 (Level 7). Only five years later, with no new development on the horizon the club was struggling. Without facilities to offer players the club had lost a large part of its playing base. By 2004 the club was only fielding one team competing in Hertfordshire/Middlesex 3N (Level 11), and often only managed to fulfil these fixtures by fielding a team of less than 15. In recent years the Senior Club has begun to reverse its decline through player enthusiasm and activism built upon the continued unwavering commitment of its committee. The 2004/5 and 2005/6 seasons saw the club fulfil every competitive fixture and establish a playing core that remains with the club now.

Building on this in the subsequent season the club won Hertfordshire/Middlesex 3N in the 2007/8 season but was not promoted to Level 10 as the RFU restructured the lower leagues. The 2007/8 season was also notable as the first season in recent years that the club employed an outside coach, and the benefits of this were clear, with the club not losing a game once the coach was in position. The 2007/8 Season also saw the club put out a 2nd XV for the first time. Although the Senior Club was not able to put out the 2nd XV regularly that season, it was still successful in attracting a number of former players back to the Senior Club. This allowed the 2nd XV to be officially launched as the “Hackney Gargoyles” at the start of the 2008/9 Season competing in the Hertfordshire/Middlesex Merit Table League 6.

In October 2009 the side launched a 3rd XV. It was the first time for 12 years that the club had fielded three sides, and came as a result of the excellent attendance at training in the autumn, with between 40 and 50 training every week. The side made a winning start, and the day was also notable for the appearance from the bench of the first ever player to step up from the club’s youth team into the adult side.

2010 saw the formation of the Ladies side, known as the Gladies, who quickly established themselves as one of the main teams in the area. They continue to expand and grow in membership and are one of the fastest developing parts of club

In 2004 the club’s youth section, the Hackney Bulls, was established in Clissold Park. In four short years the youth section has grown to include over 160 children, from ages 6 to 16. In 2008 the Bulls were awarded the Presidents XV Award by the RFU, one of only 15 such awards, in recognition of their success.

The 2016/17 season was one of the greatest in the club's history with the 1st XV going unbeaten throughout the season and winning London and SE 3NW league. This means 2017 will see the club at RFU level 7 with the 2nd team in the top league of their merit table (having started at the bottom league in 08/09), the 3rd XV at their highest level ever and a 4th XV entered into a league for the first time ever.

Griffins pamphlet from the 1989/90 season. The image includes a picture of the 1st XV (captained by Andy Elias) who won the Middlesex division 2.
Image courtesy of Mark O'Shea.Old Griffins history from the 1989/90 season.