Aireborough RUFC

Aireborough RUFC is situated in Nunroyd Park, Yeadon about 7 miles from Leeds City Centre. The club has a fully-equipped modern club house, four regular senior sides and a substantial junior section known as the Aireborough Lions. Aireborough RUFC comes under the group of sports clubs known as Aireborough Nunroyd Sports Association (ANSA) which includes Green Lane Cricket Club and Skyrac AC.
The Club?
More recently the club has become increasingly well known for its success in the Yorkshire Leagues and Cup competitions, the latter being its 2 recent promotions and two cup finals.
An exciting mixture of young and old through playing and coaching staff has made rugby accessible for all ages at Aireborough, this being represented in the wide mixture of players and social members. Whilst trying to maintain a reasonable playing standard the club pride themselves on the way they welcome players into the setup, often in conjuntion with the social side of the club.
On the back of their recent success Aireborough have worked hard at creating an increasingly successful junior section that is growing steadily each year, soon hoping to have teams in all age-groups.
The first team, will play their third season in Yorkshire Division 3 during the 2008/9 season. Well-known and established sides such as West Park Leeds, Roundhegians and Baildon all compete in Yorkshire Division 3 and is perhaps why in recent years the overall standard of rugby has been so high throughout the division. The second team play in the corresponding merit league and enjoy some reasonably serious rugby, many of the players challenging for first team positions.
Aireborough also look to field a weekly third team who play a more social standard of rugby in regular friendly matches, with a monthly veterans side following the same type of standard.
As a rugby club Aireborough sees its social side as an integral part of the club setup and prides itself on the regular events and functions set-up by members. Much of this to do with the social committee, who have become conveniently better known as the ‘Arses’(Aireborough Rugby Select Entertainment Society). Aireborough’s regular pantomimes, dinner dances and musical events to name but a few have become well known and publicised around the local area with particular reference to the local town of Guiseley.
Coaching staff
The club currently has two main senior club coaches. Head Coach Simon Carbutt enjoyed a successful playing career and is now in his third spell with the club after starting out there as a teenager following on from county honours. Simon went on to represent the RAF and Combined Services whilst playing national league rugby with Harrogate, Headingley, Nottingham and Newark. Simon rejoined the club from Guiseley Rangers in 2003 as a player, later becoming coach after retiring due to long term injury. Simon is joined this season by James Darkins. Darkins has been a regular club member for a number of seasons having joined the club from Leeds Tykes where he was a member of the Academy set up. Sadly, his playing career was hampered by a number of injuries but he is back and playing with the 1st XV as well as providing experienced coaching with the backs throughout the club.
'Airebronians' Rugby Club, as it was initially known, was formed in 1970 by Aireborough Grammar School staff and old boys. Rugby had been played at the school for about ten years after a difficult period changing from what had been a very successful soccer school. A tradition developed whereby each Christmas the school first team would play against a hastily assembled team of old boys as part of a social gathering. More and more old boys became available for the game and in December 1969 Aireborough teachers Terry Lazenby and Geoff Thompson considered the feasibility of starting an old boys club. This would accommodate old boys wishing to continue playing rugby for an old boys team rather than joining other clubs.
A meeting was convened and chaired by Ronnie Lawson, an Aireborough teacher and old boy, who was a leading member of the Old Scholars' Association. Other old boys attending the meeting included Geoff Black, Keith Laughey and Peter Duffield.
It was decided there was sufficient support to start the club and permission was gained from John McDonald, the AGS Headmaster, to use the school buildings and pitches. Aireborough Grammar School was on the site of what is now 'The Old Grammar School' estate and the school pitches were where we play now but there were two smaller pitches at right angles to the current pitch. John McDonald became the club's first President and it is interesting to note that he had previously been involved in the formation of Old Thornensians RUFC when he was a teacher at Thorne Grammar School.
It was decided that the newly formed club would not be an exclusively old boys team and in due course the club took over the fixtures of Old Grovians RUFC, a Woodhouse Grove old boys team who, by coincidence, were disbanding at that time. The club actively recruited players and 1970/71 was the inaugural season with the first game at home to Yarnbury following a practice match against the school. Games Master Geoff Thompson was club coach and his assistant at school, Dick Pollard, became the Club's first captain. Peter Duffield was the Club's first Chairman. AGS Teachers who played an important role in the club's early seasons included Mel Davis and Terry Lazenby and, later, Stuart Edwards and Paul Dennison. John Race, a teacher at Thornton Grammar School in Bradford, played for the club and went on to be club Secretary for more than fifteen years. In the early years local cricketer Brian Hampshaw became the club linesman, a job he held for over thirty years.
With initially only one team, the school gym and changing rooms were used. Fixtures were arranged on a week by week basis and Geoff Thompson, the first Fixture Secretary, had to be careful as the pitch was unplayable during wet periods remembering it was also used by the school on Saturday mornings. After the games, 'refreshments' consisted of pies, sandwiches, tea and coffee in a school classroom followed by a journey to the Yorkshire Rose for alcoholic beverages! This was very basic fayre but it improved when Bert and Beattie at the Yorkshire Rose began to provide food so players could travel straight to the pub after showers etc. This is where the club's spirit was born.
Other rugby clubs in the area did not believe the club could survive and many of our members were not optimistic. However, the club kept going occasionally using the school hall for social functions to raise money. A second team was eventually raised but, after two seasons on the school pitch its limitations were obvious i.e. it was too small for adult rugby and frequently unfit for play with visiting teams being unimpressed. Our after match spending potential had caused Guiseley Cricket Club to invite us to use their old clubhouse at Nethermoor for after match facilities. Their clubhouse at this time was an old wooden building with a bar, the first in a local cricket club. Here there was a tremendous atmosphere. The club built up a close relationship with Guiseley Cricket Club and discussions took place regarding the possibility of establishing a rugby pitch on the same site as the cricket and soccer pitches. Unfortunately there was not enough space and also Leeds City Council, who owned the site, were not very co-operative. Who knows what the club would have become if we had established a pitch at Nethermoor in Guiseley?
The club desperately needed a new pitch to progress. Club stalwart Terry Lazenby also played cricket at Esholt and the soccer pitch adjacent to the cricket ground which had previously been used by the Butterfields Engineering Works of Shipley, was now vacant. It was full sized, had an excellent playing surface, was well drained and ideal for rugby. The club decided to take up Esholt Cricket Club's offer of the use of the pitch and started playing there in the 1972/73 season.
Although Esholt was an excellent ground, there were no changing facilities available. A plan to move Guiseley Cricket Club's now redundant wooden hut to Esholt was abandoned as impractical. This meant the first team were involved in a great deal of travelling, as although the junior team usually played at school, the Firsts had to change at the school, travel to Esholt, play the game, travel back to the school for showers and then on to Guiseley Cricket Club for food etc. However, this system was to stay for another six years during which time the club also used the Oddfellows Arms in Yeadon and the Woolpack Inn at Yeadon for after match facilities. Both these pubs provided a tremendous atmosphere with many happy and eventful nights. Yeadon Town Hall was frequently used for fundraising dances etc.
Playing standards gradually improved with Tim White gaining the club's first County Honours when he played for Yorkshire under 19s. A lesser known honour was achieved when Dave Greenwood played rugby league for a British Colleges team. The club fostered links with AGS who also began playing at Esholt and who provided a steady stream of players, except for those who wanted to play a 'higher standard'. The club's fixture lists, which were all friendlies, improved gradually and eventually included established local clubs such as Yarnbury, Baildon, Otliensians, Modernians and Ilkley. Regular progress was made in the Yorkshire Silver Trophy Competition. Club tours were held regularly including visits to Blackpool and London and, in 1975 our first International Tour to the Isle of Man.
Although the club was constantly growing in stature and was now well established in Yorkshire Junior Rugby, with players regularly moving to senior clubs, the absence of our own clubhouse was a problem, as the club lacked a focal point and a means of raising revenue. The constant problems associated with travelling about on match days was felt to lower the status of the club.
The club then took the historic decision of merging with Esholt Cricket Club to form Esholt and Airebronians Sports Club (EASC) and convert some derelict cottages near the ground into a clubhouse and changing rooms. This involved a huge commitment by club members in terms of applying for grants, fundraising, work parties, joint meetings etc. which, together with playing matters, put a great strain on internal relationships at the club. Not unexpectedly this caused friction within EASC but this was overcome with the rugby club moving into the new facilities for the 1978/79 season.
There was only one pitch at Esholt and, at the cricket club's insistence, rugby could not be played at the same time as cricket. This, together with the fact that it was too far for the junior teams to travel back to school, meant the club desperately needed a second pitch in the locality. The club took up the kind offer from Hugh Barker of Esholt Cricket Club of using a field at High Royds on which he grazed some sheep. This became known as 'The Gobi' and was used by the club for the next twenty years. The name derives from when it was first marked out and was mistakenly made too wide i.e. more than RU limits. This resulted in players having difficulty reaching touch and, together with the dry and windswept nature of the location, Keith Parker made the famous quote “it's like playing on the gobi desert”. Measurements were then taken and the mistake corrected.
The 1978/79 season was a disaster for rugby as, due to snow and frost, there were no games for eight weeks which put severe financial pressure on the club. However with help from the EASC the club survived.
Eventually, as expected the new facilities resulted in better recruitment, organisation and better results on the pitch. The first Captain at Esholt, Paul Dennison, made a tremendous contribution, which should never be underestimated, in getting the club up and running at the Esholt facilities.
After ten years of trials and tribulations the dreams of a few people at the meeting in 1970 were now realised. Airebronians had their own quality pitch incorporating a licensed clubhouse and changing facilities. They were a well respected junior club playing a good standard of rugby. Coaching had been mainly carried out by Geoff Thompson and Terry Lazenby. The Club must never forget the tremendous contribution made by Mike Claughton, both on and off the pitch, during the first ten years. The scene was set for some momentous years.
In the beginning of the 90's Aireborough were entered into the Yorkshire League system, eventually climbing to Yorkshire Division 2 after the 93-94 season this is the highest the club has ever been. Last season (05-06)and the season before the club gained double promotions, one of these the Yorkshire Division 4 title. Aireborough have also won the prestigious Yorkshire Silver Trophy twice. Once in 1994 when they defeated Ossett in a game that went to a replay. The replay was the first ever Final of a Yorkshire competition played on a Sunday! Their second time win came in the 2005/6 season with a game against league opponents Hullensians at Malton & Norton. They were also in the final in 2005 against Yorkshire high fliers Barnsley, however they lost out by just 4 points.
Thanks to contributions from M. Carbutt and K. Parker
Get in touch:
If anybody is interested in getting in touch with the club then please do so via these links:
Club Player-Coach- Simon Carbutt 07970116639
Club Email-
Or, visit training on a Monday or Wednesday evening at 7pm.
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