Club History

The Forties

The club’s first game after the war was against The Royal High School on 29th September, 1945. The team was inexperienced apart from R L Sharp, A E Bennet and captain M Wright. The game was lost 15-3 but Stewart’s went on to win 10 out the next 13 games, including a fine win against Watsonians 11 points to 3. By this time, R Koren had come into the team. For his time, he was giant, standing 6 foot 7 inches and weighing 18 stone!

The season tailed off but this was due to the disruption National Service and demobilisation was having on the club. Over 49 players played for 1st XV, only 7 appearing in more than 12 games.

Nonetheless, in the Spring sevens, Stewart’s showed that they were going to be a force in post war Scottish rugby.They lost in the semi finals at Inverleith, Melrose, the final at Hawick but finally won the Jedforest cup. The successful team was A E Bennet, J M Baird, J W C Foubister, E Anderson, J Craig and A D Govan.
For season 1946-47 A D Govan was elected captain and several of the pre-war side were now avaiable to play again.

Click on picture

The season started with victories against Boroughmuir, Royal High, Melville and Glasgow High. However, a tough Trinity Academicals side defeated a depleted Stewart’s but they were a non-championship side so this did count in the unoffical League. However, this loss spurred the team on and they were undefeated by Christmas having scored 128 points and only conceeded 8. Glasgow High exacted revenge for a defeat early in the season by winning the game with a drop goal in the last minute. However, Edinburgh Academicals/Wanderers(still playing as a combined team) were defeated the following week.

This set up a crunch match with Melrose who were lying second in the championship.

It was a tight game won by Stewart’s with a penalty goal in front of 3,000! There followed a wintry spell where no rugby could played for nine weeks. However, on the resumption of games, Gala were defeated narrowly for the second time in the season. Watsonians were defeated in an evening match on 6th April. This was only their third loss of the season.

It had all come down to the last match against Jedforest which had to be won to secure the Championship. Again, it was an evening game and it meant that there was difficulty in fielding the regular team. At the last minute, R L Sharp had to be drafted into full back, a position he had never played before but he played with great poise and skill. Stewart’s dominated the game and ran out winners 14 points to nil.

This was only the second time the Club had won the Championship.

The regular team was : Hyslop, Bennet, Tait, Pringle, Baird, MacLennan, Foubister, Anderson, Gillam, Govan, Wright, Craig, Govan, Kyles, Koren and Sharp.

The Club dinner to celebrate the sucess was held at the Balmoral Resturant on Princes Street in Edinburgh.

The success of the team was based on team spirit both on and off the field. However, it was the strong pack that laid the foundations for a winning season.

The following season E Anderson captained the side and again the team won most of their matches. They were denied the Championship again by two key losses against Glasgow University and to Kelso 8-6, the eventual winners.

Stewart’s FP being piped on to the pitch by the North Of Ireland 1949

The Club embarked on its first Christmas tour to Belfast to play Instonians and North of Ireland. As no sailings were available the team travelled by plane from Renfrew, the first Scottish club to use the transport. The total cost of the tour was £150 for a party of 25!

On Boxing Day, Instonians were easily defeated 28-6 but perhaps the the celebrations and Irish hospitality meant that Stewart’s lost the following day to the North of Ireland!

The demands of National service did not diminsh the strength and depth of rugby at the Club. Four teams were being fielded each week and the results for 1947-48 were the best ever recorded in its history.

The Forties 1947-48

Team

Played

Won

Lost

For

Against

1st XV

28

22

5

342

113

2nd XV

20

17

3

261

120

3rd XV

19

12

6

183

119

4th XV

19

9

9

160

142

Not surprisingly, the club had its best ever results in the Sevens at at the end of the season. The won Murrayfield, Jedforest, Langholm and were runners up at Hawick. The sevens squad was as follows: Bennet, Maclennan, Tait, Ross, Anderson, Mitchell, Govan, Koren, Lowes and Moncrieff.

The following season Stewart’s had not lost a game by Christmas. The 24-11 win against Glasgow High School was the first ‘live’ radio broadcast. The success of the team meant that at crucial games players were playing for Edinburgh and this contributed to the loss against Edinburgh Wanderers. In addition, they were denied other key players due injury.

Nonetheless, they had a memorable victory against the eventual winners, Hawick at Mansfield Park.

The press report described the game, “In atrocious weather conditions, Stewart’s FP beat Hawick at their own game and won a splendid victory that gained the admiration of the home supporters. Their forwards were complete masters of the situation from start to finish, so much so that Hawick never looked like scoring. Koren, Anderson, Wright and Ross were all splendid for Stewart’s though their win was a triumph of team spirit.”

Stewart’s were runners up for the second time in succession. It was was by far the most successsful period in the clubs history.