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The oldest rugby club in the world: Guy's Hospital Rugby Football Club

As part of our #FitForKings campaign we wanted to shine a light on the GKT Rugby Club, a founding club of the RFU and recognised as the oldest rugby club in the world.

Founded in 1843, the Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club came into being only a few years after pupils at Rugby School decided to liven up traditional football matches by picking up and running with the ball.

The foundation of Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club in 1843 is accepted by both the Rugby Football Union and the Guinness Book of Records and makes Guy’s Hospital Rugby Football Club (now GKT) the oldest rugby club in the world.

Although challenged by several other clubs, the claim for Guy’s is supported by circumstantial evidence and relates to a score fixture from the 1883-84 season which referred to the 40th season of the club, alongside submissions from distinguished officials in 1863 and 1864, currently no existing club has advanced an earlier claim.

Clubs were also set up at St Thomas’ Hospital in 1864 and King’s College in 1869. All three clubs competed in the United Hospital Cup and were founding members of the Rugby Football Union in 1871, when representatives from 22 different university colleges, schools and local clubs met in London to agree the first common set of rules for the game.

Thanks to the King’s College London Libraies & Collections for the images of Guy’s Hospital Rugby Club from the King’s Archives

Merging to form GKT Rugby Club

In 1982 the United Medical and Dental School’s of Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals merged to form UMDS and this in turn led to the eventual merger between Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital Rugby Clubs. In 1998 a further merger happened between King's College London and UMDS which led to the creation of the Guy’s, Kings and St. Thomas' Schools of Medicine, commonly known as GKT.

Following the merger of the medical schools the rugby club followed and became the GKT Rugby Club. The GKT Rugby Club still compete in the United Hospital Cup to this day with their most recent victory being in 2019. The combined wins of Guy’s, King’s and St Thomas’ put them at the top of the table with 51 total wins since the cup was founded in 1874.

Both the Men’s and Women’s GKT Rugby Clubs have competed yearly in the Macadam Cup, varsity match played between the sports teams of King's College London (KCL) and Guy’s, King’s and St. Thomas’ School of Medicine (GKT), since it's founding in 2004. The championship, hosted by KCLSU, is named in honour of King’s alumnus Sir Ivison Macadam. 

Interested in joining GKT Rugby Club this academic year?

At KCLSU there are nearly 300 societies, sports and other student activity groups. Find out more about how to get involved with societies while studying at King’s on the KCLSU website.

You can find out more about how to join and keep up to date with the GKT Men’s and Women’s Rugby Clubs below:

GKT Rugby (Men’s)

GKT Rugby (Women’s)

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