So fifty seven years after Ellis ran with a football in his hands Rugby became the team game in Waitara.
On the 6th of May 1880, a meeting was held in Waitara for the purpose of forming a Rugby Football Club. The Meeting was chaired by Mr R J Matthews who was the manager of the Bank of New Zealand. Over twenty people attended and the following gentlemen were elected officers of the club.
Committee: Messrs R.J.Matthews,A Shoal,R Cameron,J G Ambridge and E A Dugdale,Mr F Bailey was elected Club Captain,the secretary and treasurer was Mr R.B. McLean.
From that date on records of games are rather meagre but on July 12th 1880, a game was played between Waitara and New Plymouth combined versus the Armed Constabulary.
At this stage a hiatus occurs in the club,s records and all the information that follows regarding the very early days of the club has come from a tape recording that was taken off in shorthand and subsequently typed.
This has been brought about by the fire that devastated the Clifton Rowing Club’s Hall on February 18th 1952. The secretary of the Rugby Club had used a shed at the rear of the hall to store the Rugby Club’s records which were destroyed in the fire.
It was not until 1889 that the Taranaki Rugby Union was formed so previous to its formation there were no organised competitions. In 1880 the only other Rugby Club’s in Taranaki were the Hawera Club which was founded in 1876. The Patea Rugby Club was formed in 1877 and Waverley Club in 1880,so it can gathered from this that the Waitara Club would find it difficult to find teams to play against because in those years no club existed in New Plymouth.
Though the Taranaki Rugby Union was not formed until 1889 the province fielded a representative team in 1885 which included three players from the Waitara Club.These players were A Bayly, R Cameron and R Tate.
The Waitara delegate to the first meeting of the Taranaki Rugby Union was a Mr Coad as the Clifton representative, so we can gather that through the amalgamation of Waitara and Tikorangi, the club as Clifton dates from that year 1889.
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