On the evidence of journals of the Willis family, rugby was played in the district from 1872, five years before the formal structuring of the club.
The men of "Willisden" (captain Willis's property) played the men of "Homebrook" (C J Bridges estate) in 1874. Southbridge township stands on part of the "Homebrook" run.
In 1876, four Willis boys, two of whom (Bill and Fred) were then Christ College pupils, brought the game into the district during their school holidays. They organized a team in that year and played several successive Saturday games, including a match in 1875 against Christchurch.
References in the "Weekly Press" and "Canterbury Times" disclose that the informal arrangement largely held together by the Willis boys, was followed in April 1877 by formal establishment of a club. Regrettably records were lost in the Southbridge school fire in 1924, that would of perpetuated the names of the first officals, but Capt. R.B. Willis would almost certainly have been one of the "Founding Fathers"
His son, Claude Willis, first captain of the Southbridge club, travelled to Timaru on July 26, 1879 and played for North Canterbury against South Canterbury. North Canterbury won this historical match played on Mr Archers paddock by one goal and one touch down to nil.
The Southbridge Rugby Club was formed in 1876 and was one of the foundation members of rugby in Canterbury, along with Rangiora, Christchurch, Eastern, Ashburton, Temuka and Timaru when the Canterbury Rugby Union was founded in 1879. Southbridge has produced many players who have represented Ellesmere, Canterbury Country, Canterbury, Crusaders and the All Blacks. The two most famous players to come from the club are Albert Anderson and Daniel Carter, who have both represented the "All Blacks".
Southbridge is a small rural service town, with a population of 900, approximately 30 minutes from Christchurch. It is well known for its fertile soils and well maintained farm lands, and is a popular area for salmon fishing and jet boating.
The club has a very strong junior section, with sides from Ripper Rugby to U18. Southbridge also has a strong and vibrant senior section, with sides entered in the Division One and Division Two competitions, as well as an experienced bunch playing in the "Golden Oldies" team.
SOUTHBRIDGE RUGBY FOOTBALL CLUB
Southbridge Park St James Street Southbridge, Selwyn Canterbury, New Zealand