Mudgee Rugby Club is one of the oldest rugby clubs in Australia being a foundation member of the Southern Rugby Football Union formed in 1874. Only Goulburn (1872) and Albion Maitland (1873) were formed before Mudgee in Country NSW with Bathurst and Newcastle also being formed in 1874. Goulburn and Mudgee were the only country clubs to attend the inaugural meeting of the SRFU which was held at the Oxford Hotel in Sydney with R. Arnold and G.H. Cox representing Mudgee (Ref. Dr Thomas V.Hickie – A Sense of Union and They Ran With The Ball). Mudgee was recorded as attending the meetings of the SRFU from 1874 – 1876. The SRFU later became the NSW Rugby Football Union. There is evidence to show that rugby clubs existed in Mudgee during the 1880s.
Mudgee formed its own branch of the NSW Rugby Union in 1893. While this branch only lasted one year, teams from Mudgee continued to play in the Western Branch of the NSW Rugby Union. Mudgee began its own branch again in 1903. This competition was very strong and included a number of clubs from Mudgee and the surrounding villages of Goolma, Rylstone and Gulgong. The Mudgee branch of the NSW Union continued until 1921 in what could be described as a golden era of rugby in Mudgee. In 1922 all clubs in the Mudgee competition decided to play rugby league.
The Mudgee Rugby Club was resurrected for a few years in the 1930s and then again in 1954. In 1961 the Mudgee Rugby Club was formed once again and has remained operating to the present time.
In more recent times the Mudgee Rugby Club has played in the Central West at both senior and junior levels. The senior club has participated in different competitions over the years depending on the number of players available. They have played in the Blowes Cup (three grades and colts), the Lang Shield (two grades) and President’s Cup or the ANFD Cup (1 team). After winning the ANFD Cup competition in 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013 the club returned to the Blowes Cup competition in 2014 with 2 senior grades and a colts (U/20). In 2015 a third senior grade was added and in 2016 a women’s team participated for the first time, making the grand final. In 2017 two senior grades and a Colts plus a women’s team participated. Since 2018 the Wombats have contested the New Holland Cup, a 2nd Tier competition with two senior teams and a women’s team.
Since 2016 the Wombat women have contested the Central West competition, making the grand final in their first attempt and reaching the finals on two other occasions. With young girls now able to play in the junior teams at all age levels, women’s rugby is expanding rapidly and has become accepted as an integral part of the club.
The junior teams have played in the Central West competitions since 1985 and over the years have won a number of premierships and club championships. The sub-junior players began as a group of youngsters (5 – 11 years) playing amongst themselves on a Saturday morning. With the expansion of the club, the “subbies” now generally play on Fridays after school and attend gala days throughout the zone.
During the nineties a group of older gentlemen decided they weren’t past lacing up the boots and thus the “Old Muds” were formed. Golden Oldies is an enjoyable but not too competitive way of retired players participating in a great game and having the opportunity to talk about amazing feats on the rugby field that may or may not have happened in the past. The “Old Muds” still appear from time to time in what could only be described as quite a loose arrangement.
Due to the hard work and foresight of members during the eighties, the club purchased land next to Jubilee Oval and built a clubhouse which is the envy of many country clubs. The clubhouse has been the venue for many club and after game functions as well as housing much local rugby memorabilia.
For many years, Mudgee Rugby Club has also hosted the Mudgee Rugby Sevens, an annual carnival that has proved popular with clubs from all over the state. Due to generous sponsorship, prizemoney has increased significantly in recent years with an accompanying increase in standard.
Mudgee Rugby Club is managed by a committee of dedicated volunteers who love the game and everything it represents. They promote opportunities to develop good friendships and to become skilful players but above all they promote enjoyment of the game and good sportsmanship. Mudgee Rugby Club welcomes anyone who wishes to participate as a player, as a playing official, as a club official or as a supporter.