Stadium Name: The Athletic Ground
Kew Foot Road
In 1996, the then third division club was bought by financial markets trader and Monaco tax exile Ashley Levett. Levett turned the club into the first professional team in England, and began buying in big names to push the club up the leagues, including Ben Clarke from Bath Rugby, the first £1million signing. The club outgrew the Richmond Athletic Ground and became tenants at the Madejski Stadium in Reading. But the crowds and revenues from competition meant that Levett was continually financing the club, and so he placed it in administration in March 1999.
The professional Richmond club and professional London Scottish F.C. were both merged into London Irish, who moved to the Stoop Memorial Ground before taking up tenancy at Madejski the following year. This period of hesitancy and uncertainty resulted in many of the professional players leaving the club pre-merger, and returning to their original home-teams. The amateur club was reformed in 2000, and the club rejoined the leagues as an amateur club at the bottom of the pyramid.
After the professional era, hooker Andy Cuthbert remained at the club and captained the side for several years. Despite its lowly league position, Richmond has still managed to attract some top class players - former South Africa captain Bobby Skinstad joined for the 2005–06 season, Chilean fly-half Sebastian Berti joined in 2006 and England Students' wing Joe Ajuwa was a regular starter in the 1st XV. Under head coach Andy Maren the club climbed through the lower ranks of the England rugby divisions, from Herts & Middlesex 1 (ninth level) to London 1 (fifth level) in four years, amassing a perfect record of 83 straight wins in league play in the process. However, the club seemingly stalled at that level, continuing to put together winning seasons, but failing to gain promotion in 2005–06 and 2006–07.
In the 2007–08 season, Richmond laid out a serious plan for promotion - something they had failed to achieve in the past two seasons, one reason being they had not had any semi-professional players on their books. For the 2007–08 season, the club recruited a number of semi-professional players to boost Richmond's promotion chances. One of these players was USA international Jon Hartman. Richmond eventually achieved promotion, winning all but one of their League games. The coach, Brett Taylor, laid out plans for the club to be in National League 2 South in two seasons, and attempts were made to structure the colts teams into an effective feeder system for the 1st XV. However, during summer 2008, London Scottish were boosted financially and subsequently signed Taylor as their head coach. Richmond appointed Geoff Richards to take his place. Following two years in National League Two, Geoff Richards decided not to renew his contract citing differences in opinion between the board and himself on how the club should move forward. In 2009–10 Richmond appointed Oxford University Director of Rugby Steve Hill to take over after fourteen years in charge of the university side. Within two years (summer 2011) promotion was achieved and Richmond played in National League 1 until the end of the 2015-16 season when they achieved a further promotion into the Green King IPA Championship.
The Athletic Ground is shared with championship side London Scottish.
There is one stand, capable of seating around 1,000 people; though in the past temporary stands have been erected in the considerable space around the pitch to boost seating capacity.
The Pavilion (next to the entrance to the ground) is at one end of the stand side of the ground, and a member’s bar at the other.
The remaining parts of the ground are uncovered standing virtually next to the pitch.
Part of a large leisure complex, the rugby part is bordered by a swimming pool golf club, a bowls club and a health centre.
NATIONAL 1 LEAGUE GAME
All facilities are on ground level, so offer easy access to those in wheel chairs,
There is a disabled toilet in the Sports Bar and another outside the Members Bar
There is a disabled viewing platform with ramp access.
There are two disabled parking bays.
Updated August 2016
Copyright Miles & Miles Publishing 2016