Worcester Warriors

Worcester Warriors

Worcester RFC
Full name Worcester Rugby Football Club
Founded 1871 (1871)
Location Worcester, England
Ground(s) Sixways Stadium (Capacity: 12,024 [1])
Chairman Cecil Duckworth CBE
Coach(es) Dean Ryan
Captain(s) Gerrit-Jan van Velze
Most caps Craig Gillies (288)
Top scorer Shane Drahm (726)
Most tries Nick Baxter (88)[2]
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2014–15 2nd (promotion to Aviva Premiership)
Official website

The Worcester Rugby Football Club is an English rugby union club, nicknamed Warriors. The club's first team play in the Championship. They have also competed in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, European Rugby Cup, British and Irish Cup and Aviva A League competitions. The club's kit is made by sports manufacturer KooGa, who they signed to a four-year deal in 2012 to produce home and away strips for the Aviva Premiership, as well as a third design for use in cup competitions.[3] They are sponsored by Worcester Bosch and Fragrance Mad.[4] Their home stadium is the Sixways Stadium, and the team colours are blue and gold.


  • History 1
    • Foundation 1.1
    • Support 1.2
    • Promotion to the Premiership 1.3
    • Established in the Premiership 1.4
    • Relegation from the Premiership 1.5
    • Return to the Premiership 1.6
    • Rivalries 1.7
  • Current standings 2
  • Current squad 3
    • Academy squad 3.1
  • Rugby World Cup 4
  • Current Coaching Staff 5
  • Notable former players 6
  • Club honours 7
    • Top-Flight Seasons 7.1
  • Charitable Causes 8
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11



The club was founded in 1871 by the Reverend Francis John Ede, with the first known game played against the Royal Artillery Rugby Club on 8 November 1871.[5] This game was played on Pitchcroft.[6] The club began playing at Bevere in Worcester in 1954 and left Bevere for Sixways in 1975 when the clubhouse was opened. When the league system was formed, the club was placed in North Midlands Division One, a level eight league.


Due to extensive support from their backer Cecil Duckworth, the club were able to build a strong team, with promotion after promotion following. In 2006, extremely ambitious plans were announced for a £23 million development programme, which would see a health club with fitness centre and swimming pool, fully tarmacked park and ride area, and expanded capacity, estimated to be 13,000.

Promotion to the Premiership

The badge used by Worcester Warriors until 2008.

Worcester Warriors were promoted to the (then Zurich) Premiership after winning National Division One in 2003–04 with a perfect record of 26 wins from 26 games, something that had never before been achieved. They were the bookies', and many of the rugby pundits' odds-on-favourites to go straight back down but defied the odds to stay in the Premiership for another season, finishing ninth in the league, after wins against teams including Harlequins, Leeds, a historic victory against Premiership Champions London Wasps and Northampton in a 'winner takes all' end of season finale, which they won 21–19. This match was shown live with more twists and turns off the pitch as well as on it, with then Northampton player, Shane Drahm, who had signed for Worcester eventually starting, and successfully kicking almost everything, after press releases by Northampton stating that he would be a substitute. In the 2004–05 season, despite Premiership survival being their ultimate aim, they reached the final of the defunct European Shield at Oxford's Kassam Stadium, after beating Leeds Tykes in the semi-final. They eventually lost out to the French side Auch. They also managed to achieve a play-off match for the Heineken Cup against Saracens, but their long fight for Premiership survival and an injury-ravaged squad meant that they lost. Their achievements for that season meant that they had achieved much more than they had originally hoped for, as well as earning the respect of the other Premiership sides in the process.

In the 2005–06 season, they reached the quarter–finals of the European Challenge Cup after finishing top of their pool with five wins out of a possible six, above Connacht, Montpellier Hérault and Amatori Catania, and faced an away match against Northampton Saints on April Fool's Day, which they won, in what was described by sports writers as some of the best rugby they have played all season. They reached the semi – finals where they faced Gloucester Rugby in a local derby showdown, it being the third time they had played Gloucester that season, with the European match being played the week after the Premiership match at Kingsholm. Despite playing some thrilling rugby, and looking much more solid as a team than the previous week's Premiership performance, they were knocked out of the competition. The European Challenge Cup was then a much more important competition to Worcester as it offered them a route into the Heineken Cup. In the 2005–06 Guinness Premiership, they avoided relegation and were safe much earlier in the season, which meant that they avoided a repeat of last years relegation battle on the last day of the season. The season culminated in an eighth-place finish in the league on 47 points, one place higher than 2004–05, with the same amount of wins (9) but more bonus points and a draw, missing 7th position due to Newcastle Falcons having a better points difference, secured on the last day of the season. This was a huge achievement considering that this is still only their second season in rugby's top flight.

In the 2006–07 season Worcester didn't get off to a very good start and for the majority of the season they were positioned in 12th place, but a good run of form which involved beating some of the top sides in the Premiership, helping them to avoid relegation and send the former Heineken Cup champions Northampton Saints down into National Division One.

Established in the Premiership

For the 2007–08 season Worcester had brought in several big name players, the best known being the All Black Rico Gear. But they again didn't start off very well in the Premiership and did not record their first victory until after Christmas. While they were struggling in the premiership they were enjoying good success in the European Challenge Cup (ECC), progressing through the group stages. After Christmas their premiership formed picked up and they beat top teams such as Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks, which subsequently saw them move out of the relegation zone, Leeds Carnegie replacing them. They progressed even further in the ECC and beat off Montpellier Hérault RC in the quarter-final and saw off Newcastle Falcons in the semi-final which set up a final against Bath. Leeds Carnegie could not survive relegation and were relegated well before the end of the season. The final against Bath resulted in a 24–16 defeat in a one-sided game.[7]

In 2008 Worcester pulled off one of their largest signings ever by signing Australian international Chris Latham from the Queensland Reds, for the 2008–09 season on a 3-year deal.[8] He is regarded as the greatest Reds player as well as the best Wallabies fullback. The season again didn't go the way it was planned but Worcester still progressed in the ECC and pulled off home and away victories over local rivals Gloucester and London Wasps in the league. However the season ended disappointingly (after Worcester suffered a succession of serious injuries), losing in the semi-final of the European Challenge Cup to Bourgoin.

Relegation from the Premiership

After the disappointment of the 2008–09 Guinness Premiership season, the Warriors made a bright start to the 2009–10 Guinness Premiership season. Either side of a loss to Wasps, they had convincing wins over newly promoted Leeds Carnegie and over Sale Sharks, only their second home win over Sale since they joined the top flight in 2004–05, which was then followed by an unlucky loss at champions Leicester Tigers. A poor spell followed with 10 games without a win. During the winless spell, the club did become the first Premiership team to draw four games in a season and the first team to draw three successive league games. Following this bad spell, the Warriors secured a much needed 13–0 victory over Newcastle at Sixways, before another six consecutive losses. On 25 April, the Warriors were relegated from the Premiership after a 12–10 loss away to Leeds Carnegie, their first relegation in 22 years. They played the 2010–11 season in the Championship with Richard Hill as the new Head Coach, on a 2-year contract and Chris Pennell as the new captain.

Return to the Premiership

The 2010–11 season saw Worcester win 30 out of 31 games in the Championship, losing the only game to the Cornish Pirates in the main season at Sixways. Worcester were top of the league and top of their stage 2 group. After winning the play-off against Bedford Blues at Sixways and the both legs of the play-off final, Worcester secured promotion to the Premiership for the 2011–12 season.[9] Before the season began, there were local news reports that Worcester Warriors aimed to build a Hilton Hotel on the Sixways site, whilst also building a health and leisure facility and potentially expanding the North Stand.[10]

Hill left the Warriors in April 2013 and was replaced by Dean Ryan.[11]


Worcester have developed two main rivalries in their recent history with Gloucester and Rotherham.

The rivalry with Rotherham stemmed from the clubs meeting each other numerous times in The Championship between 1998 and 2003. Since Worcester gained promotion to The Championship in 1998 the two clubs were constantly at the top end of the table together, battling for the solitary promotion place. In the four seasons they were both in the league, between 1998 and 2003, Rotherham finished 2nd once and 1st three times, whilst Worcester finished 3rd twice and 2nd twice. Due to both teams consistently doing well in the league and tensions between the two clubs high off the pitch, the games often attracted bigger crowds and greater media interest than usual. The importance of the clashes and the rivalry that developed led to the two clubs being dubbed 'The Celtic and Rangers' of their division.[12]

After two close league games in the 2001/2002 season, which saw Worcester win the game at Sixways in September by 2 points thanks to a Tim Walsh drop goal and Rotherham win the game at Clifton Lane in January by 10 points the Rivalry peaked the following season, 2002/03. Rotherham had won the 2001/02 Championship losing just two games with Worcester finishing 2nd having lost 3 games. However, Rotherham were denied promotion based on the fact that there stadium, Clifton Lane, was not at the required standard. To rectify this and meet premiership stadium criteria, in time for the 2002/03 season Rotherham moved stadiums to Millmoor and shared it with Rotherham United FC.

The first meeting of the 2002/03 campaign between the two teams came at Millmoor on the 23rd November. Despite being fairly early on in the season, a big 5 point win for Rotherham in front of over 4,000 fans, including a sizeable away following from Worcester, was a huge step in Rotherham winning the league and gaining promotion. This encounter was yet again a very heated and physical battle. Worcester were well on top during the first half and went into the interval 13-6 ahead thanks to a Chris Garrard try and some excellent game management from fly half Tim Walsh. However, the second half was a completely different affair and with Worcester's Chris Garrard sent off for a dangerous tackle on Jacob Raulini and Mark Gabey sin binned, Rotherham, spurred on by their biggest and most vociferous crowd of the season, scored 32 unanswered points, including four tries to complete a demolition of Worcester.[13]

Despite the big win for Rotherham at Millmoor, Worcester only lost one game until the two teams met again at Sixways in April, winning 12 league games and losing only away to Orrell. This ensured they kept in contact with Rotherham at the top of the table. The game at Sixways was the third last game of the season and, with the sides neck and neck in the league, the winner would almost certainly gain a place in The Premiership. Worcester had gone 20 games and 18 months since their last home loss, which was to Rotherham in September 2001.[14] The game was the first Championship match to be broadcast live on Sky Sports and the game also saw the record attendance for a Championship game, with temporary stands constructed to ensure 5,700 fans could watch. Rotherham brought a 1,000 strong contingent, almost all of whom were sat in the North Stand at Sixways, in what was virtual segregation. The first half of the game was extremely tense, with Rotherham leading 9-3 at half time. However the second half saw Rotherham score two tries in 10 minutes which put the game out of Worcester's reach. Rotherham went on to win the game 21-9, which spark wild celebrations and a pitch invasion from the Rotherham fans.[12]

Rotherham are often considered as Worcester's rivals by those fans who watched Worcester before 2004. However, because Worcester's average attendances have more than doubled since then, a large percentage of the Worcester fan base, many of them newer supporters, see Gloucester as Worcester's main rivals. This is predominantly because of playing them regularly since gaining promotion to The Premiership in 2004, the geographical closeness of the two Cities and various media sources citing the game as a derby.[15] However, despite playing Gloucester regularly, many Worcester fans see the rivalry as a media-made one and on the whole, Gloucester fans do not see Worcester as a rivalry or derby at all. Many Gloucester fans say that Bath, Bristol, Exeter and Leicester are bigger derby matches than the ones vs. Worcester.[16][17]

Current standings

2014–15 RFU Championship Table
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Try Bonus Loss Bonus Points
1 Bristol (F) 22 21 0 1 774 399 375 18 1 103
2 Worcester Warriors (W) 22 19 0 3 858 335 523 18 3 97
3 London Scottish (SF) 22 12 2 8 534 498 36 10 2 64
4 Rotherham Titans (SF) 22 13 1 8 505 488 17 5 2 61
5 Nottingham 22 12 0 10 461 578 –117 5 3 56
6 Yorkshire Carnegie 22 10 1 11 494 462 32 7 5 54
7 Jersey 22 8 2 12 495 621 –127 5 7 48
8 Cornish Pirates 22 9 0 13 436 464 –28 4 5 45
9 Doncaster Knights 22 8 1 13 429 481 –52 3 6 43
10 Bedford Blues 22 7 0 15 433 604 –171 6 4 38
11 Moseley 22 5 1 16 441 637 –196 4 5 31
12 Plymouth Albion (R) 22 3 2 17 314 630 –316 1 5 21
  • If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Number of matches won
  2. Difference between points for and against
  3. Total number of points for
  4. Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
  5. Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled
Green background are promotion play-off places. Pink background is the relegation place.
Updated: 5 July 2015
Source: "Greene King IPA Championship". NCA Rugby. 

Current squad


Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Player Position Union
Niall Annett Hooker Ireland
Jaba Bregvadze Hooker Georgia
Dan George Hooker Wales
Ben Sowrey Hooker England
Derrick Appiah Prop Italy
Ryan Bower Prop England
Mike Daniels Prop England
Na'ama Leleimalefaga Prop Samoa
Val Rapava-Ruskin Prop Georgia
Joe Rees Prop Wales
Nick Schonert Prop South Africa
Darren Barry Lock England
Tevita Cavubati Lock Fiji
Donncha O'Callaghan Lock Ireland
Darren O'Shea Lock Ireland
Dan Sanderson Lock England
Christian Scotland-Williamson Lock England
Sam Betty Flanker England
Matt Cox Flanker England
Carl Kirwan Flanker England
Sam Lewis Flanker Wales
Marco Mama Flanker Zimbabwe
Phil Dowson Number 8 England
Matt Gilbert Number 8 England
GJ van Velze Number 8 South Africa
Player Position Union
Jonny Arr Scrum-half England
Luke Baldwin Scrum-half England
Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier Scrum-half Wales
Charlie Mulchrone Scrum-half England
Tiff Eden Fly-half England
Tom Heathcote Fly-half Scotland
Ryan Lamb Fly-half England
Ravai Fatiaki Centre Fiji
Alex Grove Centre Scotland
Ryan Mills Centre England
Wynand Olivier Centre South Africa
Max Stelling Centre England
Heath Stevens Centre England
Andy Symons Centre England
Tom Biggs Wing England
Dean Hammond Wing South Africa
Bryce Heem Wing New Zealand
Andy Short Wing England
Sam Smith Wing England
Cooper Vuna Wing Australia
Ben Howard Fullback England
Chris Pennell Fullback England

Academy squad

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
Player Position Union
Jack Singleton Hooker England
Gareth Milasinovich Prop England
James Page Prop England
Justin Clegg Lock England
Charlie Hewitt Lock England
Andrew Kitchener Lock England
Sam Smith Flanker England
Huw Taylor Flanker England
Player Position Union
Jamie Shillcock Scrum-half England
Josh Adams Wing Wales
Perry Humphreys Wing England

Rugby World Cup

The following are players which have represented their countries at the World Cup, whilst playing for Worcester:

Position Country Tournament
Sililo Martens Scrum-half Tonga 1999
Sateki Tuipulotu Fullback Tonga 1999
Ben Hinshelwood Wing Scotland 2003
Chris Horsman Prop Wales 2007
Netani Talei Number eight Fiji 2007
Aisea Havili Wing Tonga 2007
Loki Crichton Fullback Samoa 2007
Aleki Lutui Hooker Tonga 2007 and 2011
Ravai Fatiaki Centre Fiji 2011
Jaba Bregvadze Hooker Georgia 2015

Current Coaching Staff


Notable former players

Club honours

Top-Flight Seasons

Season Premiership Domestic Cup European Cup
Competition Final Position Points Competition Performance Competition Performance
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 12th 16 LV Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup 4th in pool
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 11th 33 LV Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 10th 36 LV Cup 3rd in pool European Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2009–10 Guinness Premiership 12th 28 LV Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
2008–09 Guinness Premiership 11th 34 EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup Semi-finalists
2007–08 Guinness Premiership 10th 36 EDF Energy Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup Finalists
2006–07 Guinness Premiership 11th 34 EDF Energy Cup 2nd in pool European Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2005–06 Guinness Premiership 8th 47 Powergen Cup 4th in pool European Challenge Cup Semi-finalists
2004–05 Zurich Premiership 9th 42 Powergen Cup 6th round European Shield Finalists

Charitable Causes

Cecil Duckworth is a trustee of the Wooden Spoon, the charity of British rugby, supporting disadvantaged children. In January 2007, Worcester opened a "Playing for Success" centre, supported by Spoon.

See also


  1. ^ "About Sixways Stadium". Worcester Warriors. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  2. ^ "Worcester Statistics (to 2007)" (PDF). RFU.com. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  3. ^ "Warriors Sign Four Year Kit Deal With Kooga". www.rugbyshirts.net. 1 July 2012. 
  4. ^ "Club Sponsors". Warriors. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  5. ^ "Worcester Warriors History". Talk Rugby Union. Retrieved 20 March 2012. 
  6. ^ Not Just a Racecourse Judd Doughty Worcestershire Life June 2010 p42
  7. ^ "Warriors suffer European cup final misery". Warriors.co.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Warriors sign superstar Latham". Warriors.co.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  9. ^ "Worcester Warriors 25–20 Cornish Pirates (agg 46–32)".  
  10. ^ Guest, Tom (19 August 2011). "Plans could see Hilton hotel built in city".  
  11. ^ "Worcester Warriors: Dean Ryan named director of rugby". BBC Sport. 17 April 2013. Retrieved 17 April 2013. 
  12. ^ a b "Rotherham take it all". The Guardian. 13 April 2003. Retrieved 10 November 2013. 
  13. ^ "Rotherham Titans 38 - 13 Worcester Warriors". Worcester Warriors. 23 November 2002. 
  14. ^ "Results & Fixtures: Comprehensive 2002–03". Worcester Warriors. 
  15. ^ "Worcester Warriors call up Blair Cowan for tonight's big Gloucester derby". Worcester News. 22 February 2013. 
  16. ^ "Premiership Rivalries". shedweb. 7 September 2013. 
  17. ^ http://lastwordonsports.com/2015/10/29/gloucester-rugby-vs-worcester-warriors-recent-history/
  18. ^ "Worcester Warriors 1st XV Coaching Staff". Warriors.co.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 
  19. ^ "Record of Achievement". Warriors.co.uk. Retrieved 23 January 2009. 

External links

  • Official Site
  • Come On You Warriors, Unofficial Supporters site on Sportnetwork
  • Independent Supporters Site
  • Official club sponsor: Fragrance Mad
  • BBC Rugby Union
  • Guinness Premiership
  • European Rugby
  • Worcester News