It was initially a chance meeting in 1963 at Clare Street ground, New Town (where rugby was then played) between Cliff Wright and Jack Clark, a teacher at Clarence High. Cliff Wright was a player for the Gordon Club, involved in rugby administration and interested in the development of regional rugby. It transpired that a team had been registered by Jack Clark as “Eastern Shore R.U.F.C.” in the Under 18 TRU competition. Only a few boys were playing, mostly from Clarence High, and Jack had registered the name to create the opportunity for these boys to stay in the game after leaving school.
Early in 1964, Cliff heard that letters had been sent to rugby clubs advising that Jack had finished at Clarence High and seeking support for the team to continue. This prompted a meeting called by another Clarence High teacher, Jim McCulloch, inviting clubs to attend. Gordon, Harlequins and Taroona expressed interest in taking “Eastern Shore” on. Cliff argued his desire to foster regional rugby and that every effort should be made to keep the team going as a separate entity. This gained acceptance and Cliff offered his services as coach, although still playing with Gordon and the offer was warmly welcomed at the meeting.
Len Smith of Harlequins suggested that if the name was changed to Eastern Suburbs, he should be able to organise a set of guernseys from his old Sydney club Eastern Suburbs. And so it was done. The jumpers duly arrived and the legend commenced.
Jim McCulloch accepted the role of the new Club President, Dennis McLachlan as Secretary and Mick Valentine as Treasurer. Pre-season training began from Cliff’s Lindisfarne home as centre for exercise runs to the Tasman Bridge and back. Training then moved to the Lindisfarne Football Ground under lights. After a few undermanned games, a full team eventually was fielded in the rather large Sydney Eastern Suburbs jumpers, the team led by Ray Baumeister who had great potential won some games.
The loss of Lindisfarne ground prompted approaches to the Clarence Council, which offered North Warrane Oval and change sheds. This was accepted by the committee and saw the move to Easts’ current home.
Cliff fostered community support by forming an associated local children’s club, “The Eastern Suburbs Midgets”. Parents proved great fund raisers, buying a 40 seat passenger bus with 2 rugby teams (Under 12s and Under 14s) travelling to Sydney as guests of the Hunter’s Hill RUFC. Many of these ‘Midgets’ went on to play with Easts in various grades.
In 1967 the club negotiated a lease with Clarence Commission and by 1970 had erected and paid for flood lights for the ground. At this time the pipe dream of having its own club rooms was born and in 1975 the club became incorporated. And in 1976 Easts were the first rugby club in the state to build their own licensed club rooms.
At the 40th Anniversary of the club’s existence legendary Wallaby Ken Catchpole visited the club to assist with the celebrations.
Click on the thumbnails below to view the photos.
The club holds two authentic signed Wallaby guernseys being:
– CH282 Qantas Wallaby Jumper
– CL309 Vodafone Wallaby Jumper
Premiers First Grade 1981
Premiers Second Division 2019
R/U First Grade 2016
Statewide Premiers First Grade 1987
Minor Premiers First Grade 1987, 2017, 2019
Premiers Reserve Grade 1968, 1973, 1974, 1994, 2002
Minor Premiers Reserve Grade 1999
Finalist First Grade 2014
Under 20 – 1979
Under 18 – 1983
Under 16 – 2009
Under 14 – 2007, 2008