Club History:

So how did it come into existence ? An often asked question and many incorrect myths have abounded down the years, so it has been something of a joy to piece together the following, hopefully definitive account with particular thanks to Derek Fletcher and Ernie Parker for their assistance.

In late 1961, Elsie Fisher, Warden of the Park Centre put a notice in the local press about a meeting to form a rugby club in Burgess Hill. This had come about after a conversation she had with Derek Fletcher, who at the time was playing at another local club which shall remain nameless.

‘Fletch’ enlisted the help of John Willis, at the time a Swimming Instructor, who ‘volunteered’ the Weightlifting Club to play !!

Approximately 20 people attended the first meeting and a committee was elected and BHRFC was founded.

There is some conjecture over the exact date when the first game was played, but it is widely held to be towards the end of the 1961—2 season, probably February 1962. It was away to Hove Yeoman (third team) and was played on the Nevill Playing Fields in Hove. In those days, a try was only worth three points, with the conversion worth another one.

BHRFC were victorious on their first outing, with the score believed to be 28—0. The weight, power and raw physicality of the pack were instrumental in providing ample possession. Centre Geoff Curtis (then P E Master at Oakmeeds) bagged three tries himself, having already played for London Welsh in the morning !!

As well as Fletcher, Willis, Parker and Curtis other members of that first XV included Rodney Debenham, brothers Andy & Paul Fisher, Roger Brown, Robbie York, Peter Shorland and Chris Cann.

The first few matches the club played were in a set of shirts donated by Geoff Curtis which were blue and white hoops. However, at the first Annual General Meeting at the end of that season the proposal was put forward that the club’s colours should be ‘black and black all over’. Therefore, when the first set of black shirts were purchased each member contributed an extra three shillings per shirt to have a black collar. Hence the ‘All Blacks’ title was coined, perhaps also in deference to our southern hemisphere cousins……

The first full season was to be 1962—3, and the first home pitch was on Fairfield Recreation Ground with changing ‘facilities’ at the Park Centre. These were the sinks and a Tin Bath in the boys toilets !!

An interesting and not widely known fact about that pitch was that it was, apparently, 100 yards long on one side, but only 90 yards on the other side !!

Socialising after matches was in an upstairs room at the Kings Head public house. However, that only lasted until a rowdy celebration after one match caused beer to flow down through the floor thereby blowing all the fuses in the pub. After that the Potters Arms and then The Junction Inn became the after match haunts of the club, until a proper clubhouse was opened in 1970 at the club’s present HQ, Southway Recreation Ground, Poveys Close.

That first full season saw the fledgling BHRFC lose just three matches all to Sussex University !!

Another ‘highlight’ of those early years was the visit of Gloucester Civil Service to Burgess Hill on tour. Their particular claim to fame? The consumption of 53 gallons (424 pints) of ale !!

The club’s lowest ebb probably came during its first five years or so of existence, when a number of players stopped playing for various reasons. However, Team Secretary at the time, Adrian Goodman, hit on the ingenious idea of getting banned footballers to play rugby to fill in the holes and ensure fixtures were fulfilled and that the club stayed afloat.

Obviously the passing of 40 years has seen a number of changes for Rugby Union as a sport, as well as for Burgess Hill RFC as a club.

Photography Policy:

The following individuals are approved by Burgess Hill Rugby Club to take still photographs and video recordings of rugby matches and training sessions, across all age groups.

All approved photographers have current enhanced DBS certificates and will be pleased to produce their ID upon request.

If you would like to be considered for approval as a club photographer, please email

 Photography Policy

Burgess Hill RFC has an approved policy on photos and videos which is in accordance with RFU guidelines and Child Protection Policy:

All parents/guardians of Burgess Hill RFC players are asked to sign a form approving the taking and use of photos, videos etc. in circumstances as set out below. This will be incorporated into the registration process and therefore completed and reaffirmed annually. Those images taken or used by Burgess Hill RFC (“the Club”) itself are in accordance with full RFU guidelines (see RFU Safeguarding Policy). The Club will not be responsible for photographs or videos taken or used by any third parties.

The Club has identified the following circumstances under which photographic images of junior/mini players or vulnerable adults may be taken. This is meant to be an indicative list for guidance and is not exhaustive or complete:

  1. Video – coaching session for training purposes
  2. Action shots – General photos of players during a game
  3. Team photographs – posed group photos
  4. Awards and ceremonies
  5. Press coverage – local newspapers and specialist rugby press
  6. Tours and festivals at other clubs and grounds (dependent upon the hosting club’s own policy)


Anyone taking photographic images or making a recording at a rugby event must have a valid reason for doing so. They should make themselves known to the event organisers and be able to identify themselves if requested to do so before, during or after the course of any event.

If a parent/guardian chooses not to sign the declaration or changes their mind at a later date, then the Club reserves the right not to allow the relevant player to participate in events where they could reasonably be expected to be photographed or videoed.

If you become aware or suspect that any images are being used inappropriately you should inform the club Safeguarding Officer.

In the case of other clubs with whom the Club comes into contact e.g. joint training, matches, festivals etc. the Club will advise them of our policy beforehand. If the other club does not have a similar policy and parental approval in respect of photographs is not available, the responsibility for monitoring photographic activity will rest with the officials of that club.

No photographs or video of children or vulnerable adults will be displayed in any public forum without express permission being given by the parent or carer. Use of such photographs within social media will be restricted to closed or secret groups only.

If at any time either the parent or carer of the young person wishes the data to be removed from the website or social media, the club safeguarding officer should be informed in writing.

Visiting Teams/Photographers

Photographers from visiting teams or otherwise outside of BHRFC are asked to strictly observe the policy as above but also to make themselves known to BHRFC officials upon arrival at the club, and must be able to identify themselves if challenged.

BHRFC Safeguarding Officer : Louisa Jane Rogers 07812 850589 email
Deputy Safeguarding Officer : Steve Blanthorn 07894 082038 email

Policy Date : 20th November 2014

Sponsor The Club:

Are you a local company? Have you a product or service you want to promote? Ever thought of advertising with BHRFC? Then why not team up with Burgess Hill Rugby to increase the profile of your company?

Advertising with Burgess Hill Rugby Club offers a fantastic platform for promoting your company profile, brand or service. As an eminent club in the South East we enjoy tremendous regional recognition with a fantastic “Sussex All blacks” brand.

We have a number of packages available from Supporters Lunches, Match Balls, Man of the Match awards, Playing and leisure shirts and advertising boards. Anyone interested in sponsoring the Sussex All Blacks should contact our Commercial Managers Simon and Tamara Larder on : or

Young Rugby Ambassadors:

Burgess Hill Rugby Club are pleased to be participating in the England Rugby 2015 Young Rugby Ambassadors programme. Our four YRA’s (pictured here from left to right) are Harry Blanthorn, Rhys Clarke, Lewis Strong and Joseph Turner. These players already have a combined 30+ years experience as Sussex All Blacks and were chosen to be ambassadors because of their passion for rugby and their commitment to the club.

“The RFU lead up and legacy plan contains a pledge to support the development of young volunteers in rugby clubs across England. The “Young Rugby Ambassador” programme will excite and engage young people in the build-up to and legacy from the Rugby World Cup 2015 (RWC 2015) and have a lasting impact on the development of the game.”

The key roles and responsibilities of a Young Rugby Ambassador are:

  • Communicate the latest news on RWC 2015 – using resources and information provided by ER2015 and RFU. This could be through arranging and delivering a series of meetings/briefings/social evenings in their club.
  • Bring alive the RFU lead up and legacy strand on cultural engagement by engaging with their local community to get local people talking about Rugby – art, photography, local history, film, music etc.
  • Support the RFU lead up and legacy strand on bringing back 16-24 year old players to the game. Each ambassador will aim to bring back at least two 16-24 year olds from their community who used to play rugby and to get them playing again.


If you have a suggestion to help promote RWC2019 at you school or workplace and would like our YRA’s to get involved, why not get in touch.

Get Back In The Game

James Haskell and Trigger Happy TV’s Dom Joly have joined up to kick off this season’s Return to Rugby sessions which begin on August 18 across England.

Starting in September 2016, Burgess Hill RFC will be running a 10 week R2R programme, with dedicated sessions every Tuesday and Thursday night (7:30 – 9:00pm). We’ll be re-introducing you to rugby through fun and invigorating game play, allowing you to move at your own pace and giving you an opportunity to get some refreshers on basic skills. So whatever your playing level, whether you want to play socially, get back into competitive playing or just simply want to get fit, we’ll tailor the sessions to suit your needs.

Comedian and former player Dom Joly has also found his own unique way of getting people back into the game, drawing inspiration from his popular TV show ‘Trigger Happy TV’. ( Click here to see Dom’s Squirrels )

“Being a ‘lapsed’ rugby player myself, I fully understand the challenges of returning to the game – being too unfit to play, time constraints, not having the right gear etc.That’s why these Return to Rugby sessions are so important because it is getting players all over the country back in the game at their own pace. Return to Rugby is all about having a laugh with new and old friends while having a chuck around and getting fit. What more can you want?” Dom Joly

Focussed on 18-30 year olds, the ten week Return to Rugby programme will take place at 100 clubs nationwide from August 18 to October 30. The sessions hope to give people who used to play rugby, the chance to rediscover their love of the game within a fun and social environment.

The first year of Return to Rugby saw 2,500 people sign up for the sessions and 800 players re-introduced back into the game, playing rugby regularly as a result of the programme. The RFU’s long-term ambition is to get 10,000 players engaged in the programme by 2019 across 250 venues.

Throughout the ten-week programme, the new-look Return to Rugby website will provide information to potential recruits, video content and rugby challenges for players to take on in order to win prizes.

If you would like to return to the game either at a competitive or just a social level then please visit Return to Rugby to register or email us at