Villager Football Club was established on 2 June 1876 - the second oldest rugby club in Cape Town, South Africa.
Stanmore the birthplace of Villagers and home to Howard and Lawrence Jones - two of the founding members of VFC

Stanmore: the birthplace of Villagers and home to Howard and Lawrence Jones – two of the founding members of VFC

Est. 1876

Villager FC has a long and illustrious history that goes back 146 years to 1876, when the club was officially founded on 2nd June, even though the first reported match was in 1875. The name Villager derives from the distinct villages that formed Cape Town, someone living in a village is called a villager – and thus the name Villager FC was born.

July 1, 1876

First recorded match against Hamiltons RFC. A controversial match according to the Argus Sports Writer of the time, noting that "The match was not, by any means, a successful performance. Rugby Union rules were, for some reason, again adopted... and we hope that this is the last time."
Rondebosch Common

Rondebosch Common was the original venue for all Villagers early matches. Cattle would often have to be moved before games could proceed


May 31, 1883
WPRFU Formed

The need for a controlling body marked the formation of the Western Province Rugby Football Union in 1883, who organised the first official competition, called the Grand Challenge. This has survived, with various methods of playing it, until the present day. Western Province as a Union then went on to dominate the early days of the Currie Cup winning 101 of their first 110 matches and still holds the record for most Currie Cup Trophies won.

August 1, 1884
Villager FC win their first Grand Challenge

The first accomplishment of the Villager Football Club was the winning of the second Grand Challenge after Hamiltons won the inaugural competition in 1883. Villagers continued to dominate the Grand Challenge, together with Hamiltons, throughout the competitions early days having won the trophy a further five times in 1888, 1892, 1893, 1894 and 1899.

May 31, 1889
Currie Cup And SA Rugby Board Formed

The need for a controlling body for the country marked the formation of the South African Rugby Board, the predessor of current day SARU, in 1889. That same year the Board instituted the SA Rugby Board Trophy which was the forerunner to the formation of the Currie Cup in 1892. Western Province won both inaugural tournaments with many Villager members in those teams.

May 31, 1890
Newlands Stadium Opening

The Western Province Rugby Football Union purchased the ground from the Brewries and officially opened on 31 May 1890 making it the second oldest test ground in the world, only the Aviva Stadium (formally Lansdowne Road) in Dublin is older. The first official match played at Newlands was between Villager and Stellenbosch.

August 1, 1893
Villager Uniform is Finalised

Although Villager began playing in the white jersey and long white trousers, a red and black striped jersey was adopted for sometime between 1885 and 1891. However the white jersey with the VFC monogram on the left breast reappeared in 1891 and with the addition of black shorts and scarlet socks in 1893, the uniform became what it is today. It must be noted that the jerseys were only decided upon becuase it was the cheapest as were the socks which were dyed brilliant red.

January 31, 1898
Villager Moves to Claremont

After having used the Rondebosch Common for around 20 years Villager FC formally entered into a lease with the Claremont Cricket Club and began utilising their fields for an annual rental of £25 as well as £100 per annum for the "goodwill of the grounds". This arrangement lasted almost 40 years until the move to Brookside was secured.
Stanmore the birthplace of Villagers and home to Howard and Lawrence Jones - two of the founding members of VFC

The 1925 First Team with the Grand Challenge and Town Challenge Cup

1901 - 1925

Villagers, although not as dominant as before the turn of the century, still won the Grand Challenge in 1901, 1902, 1910 and 1925. The break for WW1 ensured that the trophy was not competed for and no doubt prevented Villagers from building on their early dominance as a club with many members on active service.

1876 - 1900
Villager Springboks

During this early period Villagers produced 7 Sprinboks, although they were not yet called by that name. The most notable during this period was "Fairy" or "Ox" Heatlie. Barry went to Bishops, played for WP 34 times, Captained them between 1894 and 1904, played for the Springboks in 1891, 1896 and 1903 and Captained them in 2 Tests. The Villager Springboks between 1876 and 1900: J.H. Anderton 3* (1896), T. Hepburn 1* (1896), P.S.T. Jones 3* (1896), F.R. Myburgh 1* (1896), T.E. Ettlinger 1* (1896), H.A. Cloete 1* (1896), B.H. Heatlie 6* (1891-1903) KEY: * Denotes caps
The dates of the First World War are displayed on the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday July 30, 2014. The Canadian government will commemorate the war on Monday Aug 4, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

World War I and Villagers

A special notice went out to members in July 1915 stating that "The Club finds itself in the proud position of being unable to place a team on the field for the 1915 season." With over 80 members on active service - roughly 70% of the club, Villagers in effect ceased to exist until the end of the War in 1918.

August 6, 1921
100th Derby Match Against Hamiltons

A notable milestone for the club was the playing of the hundreth match between Villagers and Hamiltons on August 6, 1921. An interesting fact was that the referee for the day was Billy Millar the 1912 Springbok Captain. Happily Villagers triumphed over their rivals 5 - 3.

May 2, 1925
Villagers Jubilee

One of the greatest days in the history of the club, up to then, was the Jubilee match, played against Hamiltons at Newlands, to mark the 50th birthdays of both clubs. The occasion had the extra historical value of its being attended by the then Prince of Wales, later King Edward VIII, and, then, Duke of Windsor. Villagers unfortunately lost the match 4 - 12.

1901 - 1925
Villager Springboks

During the following 25 years Villagers produced 11 Springboks with Barry Heatlie also playing in 1903. A notable personality during this period was "Paddy" Carolin who Captained the Springboks in 1 test and played in two others. It was noted that he was an outstanding personality and strong leader. The Villager Springboks between 1900 and 1925: S. Ashley 1* (1903), C. Currie 1* (1903), J. Barry 3* (1903), H.W. Carolin 3* (1903), W. van Renen 2* (1903), D.C. Jackson 3* (1906), P. Allport 2* (1910), N.F. Howe-Browne 3* (1910), G.M. Wrentmore 0* (1912-1913), F.W. Mellish 6* (1921), J.C. Tindall 5* (1921-1932) KEY: * Denotes caps

1926 - 1950
Notable Achievements

With the formation of more competitions in the following 25 years Villagers began to claim these coveted prizes as well as the Grand Challenge. During this period Villager won the Grand Challenge in 1926, 1931 (Shared), 1934, 1935 and 1938. The Club also won the newly created Town Challenge in 1926, 1931, 1935, 1938 and 1948 as well as the WP Competition in 1926, 1937 and 1938.


After lenghtly negotiations it was finally agreed that the Western Province Rugby Union would purchase Brookside for £8000 in March 1934 however it would be another three years before the Union and the Club would come to an arrangement in 1937 to move the Club there permanently. With new facilities and fields the annual report noted, "We now have excellent facilities for practising and training and this is a definite step in the club's progress."
Rondebosch Common

An ariel View of Brookside circa 1970


World War II and Villagers

Although WWII approached in 1939 the club continued with fresh enthusiam as a result of their new facilities. However it was not long before the drain on members through their going on active service prevented the club from even fielding a first team after the 1941 season. It was then decided to form an arrangement wereby Hamiltons combined with Villagers, and teams were entered under the name of Villagers-Hamiltons, the colours being the Hamiltons jersey, with the Villagers shorts and socks. The arrangement proceed well, although Villagers were not able to contribute many players. With the end of the war in 1945, it was recommended that the clubs once again field their own teams.

Old Clubhouse Development

After exhaustive efforts, planning and fundraising the old house that was situated on Brookside, formerly occupied by Mr. Piet van Schaik, secretary of the Union, would be altered at the expense of Villagers. The terms included that Villagers would be responsible for the maintanence of all buildings on the grounds, whilst the Union would be responsible for the maintanence of the fields and would provide an additional member of staff. Permission was also granted for three fields to be laid out North-South with a large expanse of land on the west side.

1951 - 1975
Notable Achievements

Villagers continued to claim the coveted prizes such as the Grand Challenge however the competition had clearly become better especially with the rise of the Paarl and Varsity teams. During this period however Villager won the Grand Challenge in 1953, 1958 and 1973. The Club also won the Town Challenge in 1968, 1972 and 1975.

PICTURED: Tommy Gentles receives the Grand Challenge Cup in 1958

Villager President: Geoff Gray

‘Uncle Geoff’ stepped down as President of the Villager Football Club after 21 years at the helm. Geoff was a real example of a true Villager man. As a club we are indeed proud of his record as a Springbok and Western Province player and later selector. He brought great honour to the club and was awarded Life Membership at WPRFU. This rare and coveted award one seldom, if ever achieved, by a Villager man. A testament to Geoff's character was seen after his passing when the Villager flag flew at half-mast in his honour at Newlands rugby ground as the Springboks took the field for the first test.

New Clubhouse is Built

After the death of Villager personality, W.F.R Shreiner, a Memorial Fund of the same name was instituted for the express purpose of constructing new clubhouse facilities for the Club and the demolition of the existing clubhouse. After an extensive period of planning and fundraising, Villagers received the go-ahead from the Union. The new facilities would consist of changing rooms, a secretary room, which became known as the Bromley Wing, as well as a hall which was to be named the Bill Schreiner Hall. The construction work was handed to Slingsby and de Jager at a cost of R60 000. Construction was completed in 1971 and opened by Mr. Hannes Pretorius, President of WPRFU, on March 24.

Villager Schools Sevens Founded

The Villager Sevens is founded by former Springbok Flyhalf, Dave Stewart, and Springbok Captain and Centre John Gainsford. Their aim is to give schoolboys, playing their last game in their school jerseys, a stimulating outing that encourages those who are not going to university, to join rugby clubs and continue in the true spirit of rugby. The tournament still runs every year in September.
Stanmore the birthplace of Villagers and home to Howard and Lawrence Jones - two of the founding members of VFC

The Argus. March 14, 1975.

Villagers Centenary Year

1975 marked an important milestone for both Hamiltons and Villagers as they celebrated their centenaries respectively in season long festivities that started with the annual Derby Day clash at Newlands on Saturday March 22. In front of a packed stadium Villagers, boasting numerous Springboks, most notably Morne du Plessis who made his debut on the day, blew away Hamiltons by 34 - 0 scoring 8 tries in the process and avenging the 1925 defeat! Other celebrations included the Centenary Ball in the City Hall, a cocktail party at Brookside, a cheese and wine party at Hamiltons, motor launches and cricket, tennis, golf and bowls matches as well as an athletics meet. It was certainly a celebration to be remembered!

1951 - 1975
Villager Sprinboks

Of course the period from 1951 to 1975 can be described as the "Golden Era" of Villager Springboks with the likes of John Gainsford, Doug Hopwood, Lionel Wilson, Dave Stewart, H.O. de Villiers, Tommy Gentles and Stephen Fry. S.P. Fry 13* (1951-1953), D.J. Fry (0* (1951-1952), T.A. Gentles 6* (1955-1958), A.L. Skene 1* (1958), D.A. Stewart 11* (1960-1963), C.F. Nimb 1* (1960-1961), R.G. Johns 1* (1960-1961), P. van Zyl 1* (1961), A.F. Birdett 2* (1960), J.L. Gainsford 33* (1960-1967), D.J. Hopwood 22* (1960-1965), L.G. Wilson 27 (1960-1965), M.J. Lawless 4* (1964), A. Jansen 0* (1965), J.H. Barnard 5* (1965), J.B. Neethling 8* (1965-1970), H.O. De Villiers 14* (1967-1969), R. J. McCallum 1* (1974) KEY: * Denotes caps

1976 - 2000
Notable Achievements

During the next 25 years Villagers found it much harder to win the Grand Challenge as the rugby powerhouse that is Maties grew to prominence during this time. However Villagers did claim the title twice in 1979 (Shared with Maties) and finally in 1981. Other titles Villagers claimed during this period include the National Club Championship in 1980, the Lion Shield in 1989 as well as the Super League A title in 1997.

August 31, 1989
The Grays Founded

In looking at ways to honour the late Villager FC President, Geoff Gray, the Club formed an association for the older members, to be known as "The Grays" and a special section of the clubhouse was allocated and called "Grays Corner". The association meets every so often for luncheons at the club and invites guest speakers from their era to reminisce. The Grays are still highly active within the club to this day.

The World Cup and Villagers

Villagers had a direct hand in helping the ‘Boks’ themselves with Morne du Plessis as manager, Joel Stransky and Gary Pagel playing significant roles in brilliantly winning the World Cup. Other Villager members, Christian Stewart, represented Canada, Mannetjies Viljoen and Chris Shutte were appointed to the Tour Management of the Wallabies and John Gainsford acted as Convenor of the committee that organised the opening and closing ceremonies. Brookside also played host to the Wallabies as their practice base while the ‘B’ field became home to a sixty metre giant rainbow tent erected to seat over 1 000 wildly enthusiastic fans viewing Big Screen Television broadcasts.

Professionalism in Club Rugby

Up to the decision to open rugby to professionalism in 1996, most clubs in the province were only dealing with reimbursing players’ expenses which was already putting all of them under severe financial pressure. With the advent of full professionalism, and with no guideance from WPRFU, clubs began paying their players in increasing amounts which still continues to this day. Although Villagers felt at the time that clubs could not afford professionalsm, and proposed a wage cap, the Club continued paying players over the next 16 years until 2013.

Pictured: The 1994 Melrose 7's touring squad. Many of these players would experience professionalism in 1996 including Joel Stransky, Christian Stewart and Anton Chiat.

1976 - 2000
Villager Springboks

The period between 1976 and 2000, although not as successful in producing Springboks as the last period, Villagers did produce outstanding personalities that included Morne du Plessis, who Captained Western Province and the Springboks, Joel Stransky and Gary Pagel who both won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and Nick Mallet who went on to coach the Springboks to a record 17 consecutive Test wins. Villagers Sprinboks 1976 - 2000: M. du Plessis 22* (1971-1980), N. Mallet 2* (1984), K. Andrews 9* (1992-1994), J. Stransky 22* (1993-1996), G. Pagel 5* (1995-1996), C. Stewart 3* (1998). KEY: * Denotes caps

Brookside Office Development

The WPRFU undertook a viability study into the further development of Brookside in 1995 and applied to the City Council for rezoning. The zoning application was based on offices enveloping the rugby field in front of the clubhouse comprising of 4 storeys on Lansdowne Road and 2 storeys along the canal and between the fields. Villagers was to benefit from the development with a new 2 story clubhouse together with offices and conference rooms, a cafeteria as well as a 4 court squash complex, a new modern hall, a braai area, new changerooms, a full size rugby field with effective drainage, excellent floodlights, 4 tiers of seating accommodating 4500 spectators and 24 hour security. This was to be completed in 2000.
Rondebosch Common

The completed Brookside Office Complex, which at first look is a fantastic facility, however the size of the rugby pitch led to a huge controversy.


The Brookside Field Size Controversy

As a result of misunderstanding and poor communication it was found that the dimensions of the A field were incorrect after the new Complex was completed and were deemed unsafe to be played on due to the close proximity of the concrete walls adjoining the field. Numerous studies and meetings were held to find a solution to the problem. In 2004 it was announced by the WPRFU that the existing Villager clubhouse and squash courts would be demolished. The new clubhouse would be relocated as an extension to the middle office block between the A and B fields, where it stands today. The squash courts were to be built along the side of the C field. The official opening of the “new” main field was in March 2006.

2001 - Present
Notable Achievements

The period from 2001 to present has not been a good one for the second oldest club in South Africa with regards to the Grand Challenge, however this period is notable for the Clubs dominence over rivals Hamiltons in the Derby Day fixture, however in recent years this trend has reversed. Villagers did win the Super League A title in 1997 and 2000 coached by Anton Chait. One shining light for Villagers in 2014 was the winning of the WP Super League B Title for the first time ensuring that the club was automatically promoted back into the SLA for 2015.

2001 - Present
Villagers 125th Anniversary

Villagers celebrated their 125th Anniversary a year later than Hamiltons after the controversary of the clubs founding was finally put to rest by Ian Fraser, Club Secretary, who proved that the true date was 1876 and not 1875. Thus Villagers celebrated their 125th year with a match against Melrose who were touring from Scotland as well as the usual Derby against Hamiltons. The festivities culminated in various functions throughout the year to celebrate this milestone in the club’s history.
09 Sep 2007, Paris, France --- Percy Montgomery (RSA) uring the IRB World Cup rugby match between South Africa and Samoa. --- Image by © Christian Liewig/Corbis

2001 - Present
Villager Springboks

Following the golden age of club rugby in South Africa, the advent of professionalism significantly reduced the opportunities for promising players to play club rugby. However one player that did play club rugby before embarking on a remarkable Test career was Percy Montgomery. There is not enough space for his records but at the time of his retirement Percy was the first Springbok Test centurion with 102 caps and won the World Cup in 2007.

October 31, 2012
Amateur Status Announced

Not since the early days of "Semi-Professionalism" in the 1980's has Villager been fully amateur, however with the recent relegation to the Super League B and the vast sums of money needed to pay the clubs players, the newly elected Committee, chaired by Anton van Vlaanderen, decides to boldly return the club to full amateur status in 2013. The decision was not well received by many players, with many leaving the club, ensuring the First Team ended last in the SLB that year and are only saved a further drop after the WPRFU change the league format.

October 1, 2014
Villagers Promoted to SLA

After dropping down a league for the first time in 2012 and finishing last in the B League in 2013, Villagers was in dire trouble. However with an influx of new coaches and players in 2014, Villagers once again found their winning ways and went 11 games undefeated in a row and ultimately claimed the SLB Title earning automatic promotion into the Super A in 2015.