Issue 90 - Page 54

Honourable Artillery Company


On the northern edge of London ’ s square mile sits Artillery Gardens , home to the Honourable Artillery Company and the HAC RFC .
SOURCES London ’ s Oldest Rugby Clubs – Dick Tyson 2008 The Honourable Artillery Company – G . Goold Walker 1926

Officially founded on the 25th of August 1537 by King Henry VIII , the regiment is the oldest in the British army , with roots almost certainly going back further in time . The rugby club is slightly younger , tracing its inception back to 1883 . The Artillery Gardens - six acres of playing fields - have been home to the regiment since 1641 , and home to the HAC RFC since its founding .

Stepping through the gates of the HAC on City Road on the morning of a game , players are presented with the sight , on their right , of Armoury House , an imposing Georgian manor house built in the reign of King George I ( who also kindly contributed £ 500 to the cost of construction ), and , on their left , the open verdant expanse of the playing fields . The impressive wood paneled Long Room , on the first floor of Armoury House , plays host to the players postmatch
, under the watchful eyes of past monarchs and Captain-Generals of the HAC , stretching back to Henry VIII . Being able to celebrate victories and commiserate losses in this historic space is a real privilege for the players . As well as rugby , the space plays host to football in the winter months , cricket in the summer as well as a host of regimental activity throughout the year – keeping Bob the Groundsman busy throughout the year . There is always a thrill walking out onto the historic pitch which never gets old . Grounds which have witnessed centuries of history , played host to one of the first recorded cricket matches in 1725 , and the first manned flight in a hot-air balloon in the British Isles (… piloted by a Mr Vincent Lunardi in 1784 – accompanied by a cat , a dog and a pigeon which escaped ). More recently the grounds have played host to the annual Varsity Rugby League match and Saracens RFC annual Rugby In The City match , amongst other high profile sporting events .
Originally comprised solely of members the active unit , the club is now a lively and varied mix of city workers , students , and musicians , as well as serving and former members of the armed forces , including the regiment , from all corners of London , the UK , and the wider world . The eclectic mix of members from all walks of life , backgrounds and professions , combined with a unique pitch situated in the heart of London , makes the HAC RFC a truly special club .
Although the majority of our players are not part of the regiment , we are all very aware and proud of the history of the HAC , the colours that we wear , and really the privilege we enjoy in playing and being based where we are . In terms of recruitment , we have tried more formal approaches in previous years , but it really works by word of mouth . The chance to play at Artillery Gardens is still our strongest selling point . Comprised of three regular sides and one veteran ‘ Occasionals ’ side , the style of rugby has always
strived to be a free flowing , entertaining style of rugby , with a dash of flair .
The 1st XV is currently enjoying a run of success in the London 2 North West division , whilst the 2nd XV are currently in the Premier Division of the Middlesex Merit table , and the 3rd XV in Division 1 of the same . The ‘ Occasionals ’ is a slightly more sedate affair ; oranges and port at a leisurely halftime , with beers and a team song in the communal bath at full time being the highlight the occasion .
Unlike other rugby clubs , the HAC RFC is very much