The Worcester Rugby Football Club is an English rugby union club, nicknamed Warriors. The club's first team play in the Aviva Premiership. They have also competed in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, European Rugby Cup, British and Irish Cup and Aviva A League competitions. Their home stadium is the Sixways Stadium, and the team colours are blue and gold.
In 1871, the team, which owes its foundations to the cleric, Rev Francis John Eld, made their first outing on November 8 against the Worcester Artiliary at Somerset Place. In 1893 the club moved to Pitchcroft and a field adjoining Worcestershire County Cricket Club at New Road. Unfortunately in 1896 the club was disbanded.
In 1908 the club was revived playing matches at Pitchcroft and Northwick. Two years later, the start of annual meetings, which still occur today, cemented the team. However, in 1913 only one game was played against Gloucester Franciscans before the onset of the First World War.
The war made regular matches difficult and it was decided to close the club down. However, following meetings in 1945 the club restarted. Following the disappointment of securing land in Kempsey, the club secured land at Claines and the first game was played there in November.
The following year, bad weather prevented a full season and saw the club move to a new home by the canal at Perdiswell and the changing rooms returned to the Saracens Head. That season also saw the formation of the Ground Purchase and Development Fund.
At the end of the 1940s the location of the club changed again with the headquarters moving to the Old Talbot Hotel in Sidbury and the home ground to Bilford Road.
The club entered the 1970s in a strong position after the growth at the club but the issue of a home continued to dominate debate at the club. The club continued to play at Bevere for the early part of the seventies before a move was secured to Sixways.
The official opening of the new site took place on September 4, 1975 with the ribbon cut by world famous Irish international CMH Gibson MBE. A few months later the floodlights were used on September 24 as a Presidents XV took on a Public Schools XV.
The club celebrated its centenary in 1971 and made the Cup Final in the 1976/1977 season, sadly losing 13-10 to Dudley in the North Midlands Final. In 1977/78 the club were named North Midlands Sevens winners.
Worcester ended the seventies in good health with the first team even going on tour to France.
Worcester Rugby Club enjoyed unprecedented success in the nineties as the club rocketed up through the leagues.
In 1992 the club had plans to develop and construct a training shed to provide facilities for young rugby players in the youth and mini category. David Hallmark, the then Chairman, in consultation with the North Midlands RFU, made an application for a much more sophisticated facility which was made by the Sports Council in 1995.
Most crucially, the decade saw the arrival of Cecil Duckworth who has driven the club forward ever since. It was Mr Duckworth who supported the Lottery bid that saw a grant of £1.3million awarded to the club. With his guidance the club enjoyed huge success and Worcester changed beyond all recognition in the space of a few years.
National Division Five and Four were conquered and in 1997 the club again won promotion to Jewson One. Promotion to Allied Dunbar Premier Division Two followed in the 1999-2000 season - when the division was to be re-named First Division Rugby.
When the game went professional in 1996, Cecil Duckworth decided that if Worcester were going to be successful they also had to be professional and go full time. Les Cusworth arrived to lead the club, however, an administration mistake proved the defining moment as Worcester lost promotion to the very highest level at the first attempt as points were deducted for fielding Tom Robinson, who was not properly registered with the team.
Warriors suffered relegation under Mike Ruddock in 2009/10 but bounced straight back to the Premiership at the first time of asking following a superb season in the Championship with new boss Richard Hill at the helm.
Hill's men topped the league, winning 21 of their 22 matches before winning all six of their pool matches to ensure a home semi-final in the play-offs.
Warriors held their nerve to edge Bedford Blues 23-22 in the semis before defeating Cornish Pirates in both legs of the final to ensure they would be back in the promised land of the top-flight.
The 2011/12 season saw Warriors consolidate a place in the Premiership beating the likes of Northampton Saints, Saracens and Bath Rugby to secure a tenth-place finish.
In 2012/13, Hill's men started the season brightly with victories over London Irish, Sale Sharks and Saracens but the second-half of the campaign witnessed just one win in the final 11 games. That left Warriors just one place above the relegation zone and the departure of Hill was confirmed with two matches remaining.
And at the first time of asking, Dean Ryan led Warriors back to the Aviva Premiership after two nail-biting ties against Bristol Rugby in the Greene King IPA Championship Final. Two tries in the final five minutes of the second leg, and a last kick of the game from Ryan Lamb saw Warriors win 59-58 on aggregate to return to the top flight.
Now, the club is finally in a strong position to reach its long-term ambitions of competing amongst European rugby's elite.