Rugby: Harlequins, Wasps and... Hampstead?
Discover the surprising connection between our new Hampstead clinic and two of England's oldest rugby union clubs.
We're continuing with our November Rugby theme with a deep dive into the history of the game. Harlequins and Wasps are two of the oldest English rugby teams still in existence. That's not to say that they were the first though. The game of rugby was born in the early 19th century at the famous school in (yep, you guessed it) Rugby, but it rapidly spread to other parts of the country. Many of the students at the Rugby School went on to study at Oxford and Cambridge, then ended up teaching at public schools around the country, and indeed around the world, preaching the gospel of the game wherever they went.
On 26 October 1863, eleven London teams gathered together in the Freemason's Tavern in Covent Garden to form a football association and decide on the rules. Of those original clubs, Blackheath FC is the only one that still exists today. But the RFU was still yet to be formed, that wouldn't happen until 1871. By that time, Harlequins and Wasps had been born. Today, as you'll likely know, Harlequins' home ground is at Twickenham Stoop in South West London, and Wasps' home ground is the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, but here's where the association to our new Hampstead clinic becomes apparent.
In August 1866, thirty men decided to form a new football club and play under rugby rules. They called it Hampstead Football Club and played on the ground that is now occupied by the Hampstead Cricket Club. They used the Freemasons Arms in Hampstead as their base and the pub provided them with a changing room and refreshments. The club had a rocky first year and in 1867 one of the players, William Alford had a falling out with the captain William Titchener and Alford decided to split with Hampstead FC, took half its members and founded a new team called Wasps. Titchener worked hard to rebuild Hampstead FC and within three years they were back at full strength. In August 1870 at the club's AGM, they decided to change their name to Harlequins. It was also at this meeting that they adopted their famous quartered jersey. One year later, in 1871, Harlequins joined 20 other clubs to form the RFU. Wasps missed that historic meeting (rumour has it that the club's representative went to the wrong pub by mistake), but they joined the RFU shortly after in March 1872.
We hope that you'll feel Hampstead's historic connection to the beautiful game of rugby when you come to visit our founder Ashleigh Wienand in the new Ultra Physio Clinic in Hampstead Gardens. You can book an appointment here. We look forward to welcoming you.