Home Ground: The Recreation Ground (Redruth RFC)
- is named after the Cornish Rebellion of 1497, in which thousands of Cornish marched on Westminster to protest against unfair taxes.
- are the first ever, and currently the only Rugby League club in the County of Cornwall.
Three Blokes. One Pub. – The Story of the ‘Founding Fathers’ of Cornwall’s first Rugby League Club
When the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve of 2012 Rugby League had never been played in Cornwall at a competitive club level. Apart from a few exhibition friendlies in the 60’s and 80’s it had never really been taken very seriously. Finally, in 2010 a team was put on a field in Cornish colours in the first of an annual ‘County Clash’ but since the conception of this yearly fixture and despite the second of them being played in Cornwall in 2011, nobody has been willing to start a club and enter a league to get Cornwall onto the Rugby League map for real, until now. In January this year three blokes walked into a pub, and when they left it two hours later it had been decided that between them they would start a club, find a coach, source players, create a brand, find sponsorship and not least take the stewardship of the County Clash (otherwise known as the ‘County of Origin’ into their own hands in the process. I was one of those blokes, and we are Cornish Rebels RLFC.
We had four months and no money, but at no point did we ever feel that it couldn’t be done, or that there was going to be any obstacle too large to overcome. As individuals, our love for the game came from different places. John Beach, our Chairman was born and raised in Oldham and followed his beloved Bears to France and watched as they were relegated in 1997 after defeat to Paris St. Germain. Our Treasurer Laurence Belt was born into the Union community of Cornwall, and having never been given the option to even consider the game of League, he started to cross-codes whilst studying at university in Liverpool. When I was 11 years old I was a ball boy for Featherstone Rovers and took great pride in cleaning the players’ boots in the school holidays.
Between us, there was a common frustration that a deeply embedded passion had been shallowed by simple geography. I spent the formative years of my life watching and playing Rugby League every weekend, only to be told upon moving counties that “They don’t play League in Cornwall”. I was horrified. To us at the Rebels, a community game that forms such an immeasurable part of people’s lives at one end of the UK deserves as much popularity nationwide as it rightfully receives in the North. If anyone in our situation had felt this frustration before, at the point at which they chose not to act, we polarised and decided that between us we would bring something entirely unfamiliar to a place that is so quintessentially traditional knowing that the pride of this County would render unwavering support for the black and gold of the Duchy.
We set about our task, blindly and with little experience we achieved what some would have deemed impossible.
Having been involved in the County Clash 2011 and 2012, John started to carve a group of players from a vast wealth of Union-based talent within the County. Laurence began speaking to potential sponsors and kitting out our men whilst I set about creating a brand that people would remember, and hopefully love. We appointed a former Royal Navy RL hooker as our First Team Coach and set a date for training. How elated we were when, in just two training sessions we saw in excess of 30 faces from all over the county. Local Union die-hards, young guns and military vets were all showing great interest and were raring to go for the South West League season 2013.
I have always thought that art is essentially creating something where previously there was nothing. I wouldn’t be so bold as to call ourselves artists, but I do think those words lend a little extra weight to what we have accomplished. It can no longer be said that “they don’t play League in Cornwall” for that statement is now wholly and factually inaccurate. Proud? Yes. Satisfied? Never. Determined? You bet.
We have grown from strength to strength and we know that the sky is the limit for us. Cornwall is a ‘Rugby County’, more so now than ever before.