Bermuda was discovered in 1503 by Juan de Bermudez, scrum-half and captain of the Spanish RFU 1502-3, and again by Admiral Sir George Somers (ie ‘Nobbler’ Somers), coach of the Elizabeth I Drunken Navigators’ Select XV, on a particularly tempestuous day, July 24th, 1609. Even though he built a settlement here and founded the Sea Venture Wreck Social Club and Rugby XV, the first true game of rugby to be played in Bermuda was in 1879, which our very own Des Nash and Phil Heaney were a part of.
On September 4th, 1958 (exactly 349 years and 42 days after Sir George had landed), Renegades RFC was founded by players who were unhappy with the major club at the time – BAA i.e. Bermuda Athletic Association, which was later to become Mariners RFC.
Unfortunately there were too many people at the club and as a result some players had very little chance to play. Arthur Stuart Tomlinson, Peter Coakes, Bill Acton, Doug Roberts and others decided to leave this club and form their own. The first meeting was held where Stuart and his Mother lived. They were not necessarily good players in the first few years - usually getting beaten by the other teams and 'trounced' by teams from visiting British and Canadian warships.
A committee was elected, and the first two rules of the club were made:-
(1) No member shall play for any other club unless given permission by the committee.
(2) Players will turn put with clean equipment (eh?).
In those days, there was no recognized fixture list, nor indeed a Bermuda Rugby Football Union, and it was up to the individual clubs to arrange their own games. This was an important factor in keeping the club morale at a high level – only playing against sides we had a good chance of beating!
In the early days, a typical afternoon’s rugby at the Navy Ground at Boaz Island would be followed by a quick dip in the sea (no showers!), some beers at the Boat Club, and then off to the weekly club party held at the bachelors quarters of Cable and Wireless. We didn’t win much in those days, but it was great fun and established an attitude still present in the club today.
The first Renegades RFC tour was organized in 1964 to New York and the club continued to grow in numbers and slowly started to become a force on the rugby field The club engaged on its second tour to Mexico in 1974 and despite the efforts of Montezuma who did his utmost to effect his revenge, the club recorded four impressive victories.
In 1975, guest players in the annual Irish Invitational XV vs Bermuda Invitational XV Easter Classic were Gareth Edwards, Fergus Slattery, Ken Kennedy and Mike Gibson.
In 1976 Renegades were off on tour again to Jamaica and Bahamas and in 1977 in an unprecedented step for Bermuda rugby the club went on a ten day tour to New Orleans and Louisiana. And after a famous victory over the Louisiana State XV Bourbon Street didn’t know what had hit it.
The Renegades renaissance continued throughout the Seventies with many of our players involved in the triumphant Bermuda RFU sides that dominated the Caribbean championships in Martinique (1977), Guyana (1979) and Trinidad (1981).
And at last in the early 1980’s Renegades finally became the Islands league winners – the one title that had eluded the club. However the same ideals were to the fore – open attacking rugby and enjoyment.
Des Nash and Phil Heaney are still with us today and success and great tours have continued.
Recent touring destinations include:
See the Captains Board and Trophy captain for more details.