It was in 1968 that a group of enthusiastic rugby players, from various corners of the globe, all exiled in Denmark, joined together to officially form the Copenhagen Exiles Rugby Union Football Club.
The inaugural committee meeting at the Pan Am office at Vesterport signified the birth of the Copenhagen Exiles as an independent rugby club. Developing "The Spirit Of The Game" in Denmark was declared as the club's "raison d'etre" and this is an aim that exists to this very day.
A rich seam of rugby-experienced players exiled in Denmark was unearthed in these early years. The common bond of being brought up with rugby as a way of life and being 'exiled' in a foreign land attracted members from many different nations and all walks of life. This made the early years of the club enormously successful for the Exiles, both on and off the field.
Initially, the clubhouse was the Britannia Inn on Vesterbrogade and the pitch was at Farum School. The first official game was against the Danish National Team and cotton business shirts dyed black were worn as a playing strip. From these beginnings, the club grew from strength to strength on the playing field. The "third half" also confimed that the Exiles were becoming a strong and special club. In order to grow as a club, a new base needed to be found, and with the help of Ladi Papousek, the club gained the use of the facilities at the technical college (now DTU). These facilities are those used by the present day Exiles. The pitch is at the DTU playing fields in Lundtofte and the nearby Cellar Bar still being used today as it was in the 1970's.
of the league
influx of new blood during the 1970’s saw the Exiles at the front of Danish
rugby for almost 10 years. Whether this was through winning competitions or
organizing competitions, success came thick and fast. The Exiles were Danish
Cup winners in 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980 and 1981 and only a law forbidding the
Exiles from winning the league due to the number of foreign players prevented
further trophies. The last cup victory was in 1989, and contained only 3
players that played in the 1976 game. In 1979, the club was awarded Honorary
Associate Membership of the Rugby Football Union.
Always embracing change
a large proportion of its playing membership dependent on people who are not
permanently residents in Denmark, the Exiles have never enjoyed the luxury of
fielding a settled side. In fact, in 40 years of existence there has never been
a recorded case of the Exiles putting out the same fifteen players in two
consecutive matches. What has however been recorded on more than one occasion,
is the fielding of fifteen players from fifteen different countries, something
rarely achieved even by national unions when selecting so called “World XVs”.
This wide variety of backgrounds, not only by country of origin but also by
occupation, is one of the most endearing features of the Exiles Rugby Club.
the mid 1980’s, the influx of foreigners has decreased, while the standard of
Danish rugby has greatly improved, all of which meant that the Exiles have not
had the success on the field as they did in the early years. However, an upturn
in fortunes was seen during the early part of the new millennium, as 3 Cup
Finals were reached. Although all three were narrowly lost, the reward for hard
work, enthusiasm and organization was plain for all to see.
Exiles ca 1982
Exiles ca 1983
early part of the 21st Century also saw the creation of the first official
Exiles women’s team. Since then, the ladies teams has come, and gone, and come
again with a resurgence in 2008. After only one year as a team, the Exiles
Ladies went on to win the Danish National Championship in 2010 and come in 2nd
at the DM 7′s. The ladies team continues to grow and strengthen and will
hopefully produce more championships, and wonderful members of the Exiles
family, in the years to come.
Photo Credit: Daniel Storch