WAKEHURST RUGBY CLUB SHOWS HOW IT’S DONE OVER 50 YEARS
WAKEHURST Rugby Club was founded 50 years ago and past and present members and associates celebrated with a dinner at the Novotel Manly Pacific on Saturday, May 2 2015, and had an open day at the club the following day.
To help mark the occasion, the club sought newspaper clippings, photos and other memorabilia to help it piece together its history.
Warringah councillor Paul Couvret unveiling the foundation stone in 1984
On May 26, 1950, a block of land at Belrose bounded by Forest Way, Waldon Rd and Dell St was notified as a reserve for public recreation. The land sloped, was wet and was overgrown by weeds.
Fast forward a decade and by the early 1960s the area’s population was growing rapidly as more homes were built at Frenchs Forest, Davidson and Belrose, and the children growing up in those suburbs needed sports fields.
In 1965 the Wakehurst Rugby Club was formed but for the first 18 years it had no real home ground, instead sharing Lionel Watts Oval and its facilities with Wakehurst Netball Club, Wakehurst Soccer Club, Forest Cricket Club, Forestville Australian Rules Football Club, Wakehurst Little Athletics and Belrose Rugby League Football Club.
The club also had the use of a ground at Bambara Oval. Then, in 1981, the club was able to secure a lease from Warringah Council of the reserve at Belrose.
Members of the club pitched it to fill and level the site, drain it, turf it, plant trees and build a fence around it.
By early 1982, the club was ready to move on to the next stage in its development – the construction of a clubhouse.
Funds for the clubhouse were raised through the club’s mobile canteen, annual dinners and social events until by March 1982, the club had $29,000 in the bank.
The club estimated it needed $53,000 to build the clubhouse so it went cap-in-hand to Warringah Council for a donation, to which the council agreed to contribute $24,000, later increased to $27,630.
The deal was that the club, with the council’s financial help, would build an amenities building to include change room and toilet facilities.
The club argued that the building was required in association with the two playing fields which were under construction to be used for rugby football.
It said the ground was intended to supply a home ground for the Wakehurst Rugby Club from February to August, the Wakehurst Cricket Club from September to March, and to be used by local schools for cricket, football, athletics, netball and other sports when available.
In late 1983, Warringah Council approved the club’s development application to build the clubhouse, subject to certain conditions, one of which was the construction of 91 parking spaces in Weldon Rd and Dell St, with all work to be completed by December 1985.
It appears the money obtained from the council may actually have come from a state government grant.
The foundation stone of the clubhouse was unveiled on September 16, 1984, by Warringah councillor Paul Couvret.
Some of the labour to build the club was supplied by participants of the Building Apprentices Training Limited, which provided a safety net for out-of-trade building industry apprentices, but most was provided by members of the club and their friends, and business people associated with the club who donated building materials.
With a home ground and a clubhouse, the Wakehurst Rugby Club became a force to be reckoned with and soon had 26 junior sides.
But by the late 1990s, Wakehurst and other local rugby clubs were struggling and the Wakehurst, Forest and Terrey Hills clubs briefly merged to form the short-lived Garigals.
Over the years the club has continually upgraded its ground and clubhouse, thanks in part to contributions from Warringah Council, and it can now look forward to its next 50 years.