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In February 1879 the Irish Rugby Football Union was formed, and listed Poratadown as an affiliated club, with Thomas John (TJ) Collen as the honorary secretary. T.J Collen played for the first County Armagh side against Ulster on 27th November 1880.

The Boat Club
In the late 1800's a few young men led by T.J Collen, joined forces to form the Boat Club in Portadown. In a short period of time the Boat Club would become the nucleus of sporting activity for boating, athletics and rugby in the town. Our first recorded captain was Arthur Farrell, who was the son of the proprietor of the Portadown News.

First Game
The first recorded Portadown match took place at Ormeau on 11th December 1879 against Ulster F.C. unfortunately the result favoured the home side with three tries to nil. The team lined out as follows

The first team
Back - Patrick, Half back - Wheeler and Whiteside Quarter back - Waddell and Harrison Forwards - Donaldson, Davidson, Lindsay, Harpur, Collen, Shillington, O'Hanlon, Bright, Stanley and Farrel (Captain)

The next game was played on 22nd January 1880 against Armagh F.C and resulted in a win for Portadown by 1 goal and three tries to nil. With this result Portadown were on their way.

Inter-war years
In the inter-war years Portadown established itself as a sound provincial club able to sustain a good firsts and a struggling seconds. These were lean years for many and there is no doubt that greater training and more specialist coaching would have given victory to post war sides. Though Jimmy Chambers served the Club for 50 years until his death in 1973, it was during these years that he exerted his most direct and personal influence. He was a rugby master at the College and a player for most of the period. Those who remember know that Jimmy was no man's victim and feared no man. The present status of the club owes much to his enthusiasm between the wars.

40's onwards.
The late 40's and early 50's were a period of slow rehabilitation after the Second World War. Although Jimmy Chambers played occasionally until 1948, the dominant personality in the club was Thomas Charles Wells. Tommy joined in 1948 and it remained his life until his death in 1976.

Chambers Park is born
Wednesday 4th September 1963 has gone down in the annals of Portadown Rugby Club's history. Several hundred spectators turned up to see the local side take on Ulster in the first match on Chambers Park, the towns magnificent new playing fields on the Lurgan Road. 1979 saw the club celebrate it's centenary year, and saw the election of international player, Charlie Murtagh as club captain.

Onwards and upwards
Throughout the years, Portadown Rugby Club has remained a bastion of normality and civility through all the trying social and political circumstances, which have been a blemish on our society. Regardless of colour, race or creed, Portadown RFC has promoted friendship, fair play and competition among our players, local community and peers. It is our aim to continue to promote this spirit and strive for improvement long into the new millennium.

Extracts taken from "Rugby Football in Portadown" by D.J Gilpin
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