US Portsmouth RFC: The rugby team with the perfect record

By Nabil HassanBBC Sport
United Services Portsmouth
United Services Portsmouth rugby club was founded in 1882

United Services Portsmouth RFC are not only celebrating promotion this season, but also achieving something quite special - a perfect record.

Their stats tell the story of an amazing season - played 18, won 18 with 18 bonus points. A clean sweep.

The London & South East Hampshire One side are currently the only club in English senior men's rugby to end the season with such a record.

"It's unbelievable, I can't put it into words," head coach Graham Butterworth told BBC Sport. "It's still weird."

US Portsmouth have a squad drawn from the navy, army and civilians and will now take their place next season in London Three South West.

Butterworth said the backroom team realised pretty early on that they had a special group of players.

United Services Portsmouth
US Portsmouth celebrate their title win earlier in March

"After four games we'd put some really high scores up, we beat Isle of Wight 65-19 and I realised the calibre in the squad," he continued.

"We played Fordingbridge away, and they have always been a strong side, and we thumped them 40-20. That was the point when I thought things were going to be different. It came to December and we were unbeaten and we realised then we could achieve the perfect record."

The club, who are supported by the Royal Navy Rugby Union, were trailing 21-7 against Bognor at the weekend and Butterworth, who was away in Malta, admitted to some nervous moments as the season drew to a close and the chance of the record drew nearer.

"At the end we did feel the pressure because with three games to go we were unbeaten and could make history as a club," he added.

"Saturday was unbelievable. The boys were 21-7 down just after half-time, I was getting regular updates from my father and wife and they suddenly galvanised and managed to hammer Bognor 49-21.

"I couldn't hide my excitement and probably drunk a little bit too much. It's still sinking in. I missed the party but the boys certainly enjoyed themselves."

The Bulldogs scored an incredible 807 points this season, conceding 266, and Butterworth said the entire squad deserved huge praise for their achievements.

"All the players who have put on the jersey have been fantastic," he added.

"We have some very accomplished finishers such as Tom Blewitt, Ross Fairbairn is an old Chichester player and has been fantastic, as has Martin Hoskins the club captain, Luke Peters, a Cyprus international, Stephen Gee and Nathan Bond also.

Hampshire One
A perfect record reads played 18, won 18 with 18 bonus points

"Scrum-half Ben Smith is a wonderful goal-kicker. He is a captain in the army and has been travelling for two hours from Warminster for games and Gareth Guyll who stepped in as captain, has also been a wonderful leader."

Director of rugby Matt Davis, who praised chairman Paul Nelson's work around the club, admitted he did not think it would be possible to achieve the perfect season.

"We started out at the beginning of the season in May to create a rugby club with team spirit and enjoyment," he said.

"We created an excellent team spirit and went on this run of games. We beat Fordingbridge, and I thought we had something special as the players were smiling.

"We had some real close scrapes, at Christmas people started talking about it, but I didn't think it was going to be possible to win the games with bonus points.

"I'm hoping it hasn't been done before and it would be great to go down in history."

Backs coach Keith Molyneux, who also plays for the club, believes the team will be able to hold their own at a higher level next season.

"It's a record that will never be beaten, only equalled and I couldn't be any prouder," he said.

"It's a big gap but I believe the style of rugby we portray means we should be able to make the step up and kick on."

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