Rugby League Information

The History Of Rugby League

A Brief History Of The History Of Rugby League

1400-1800: Many different types of football - rugby league’s ancestors - are played throughout Britain. Unlike modern soccer, most football games allowed handling the ball. There are records of football games being played in future league strongholds such as Hull, Huddersfield, Rochdale, Whitehaven, Workington and York.
1823 - William Webb Ellis, a pupil at Rugby School, allegedly picked up the ball and invented rugby. But there is no evidence to support this myth - even the 1895 Inquiry, which immortalised Ellis found no proof. Running with the ball became common in 1830s at Rugby School and Rugby School football became popular throughout the UK in the 1850s and 1860s.
1864 - The first rugby clubs formed in Leeds and Huddersfield, followed by Hull (1865), York (1868), followed by hundreds more in Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire in the 1870s and 1880s.
1876 - Yorkshire Cup competition started for Yorkshire rugby clubs. Soon it attracts bigger crowds than the FA Cup Final.
1886 - Concerned at the growing dominance of the largely working-class northern clubs, the Rugby Football Union introduces strict amateur rules.
1893 - Yorkshire clubs propose allowing players to be paid six shillings ‘broken-time’payments when they miss work due to matches. RFU vote down proposal. Widespread suspensions of northern clubs and players begin.
1895 - Threatened with expulsion from the RFU if they cannot prove their amateurism, 21 leading Lancashire and Yorkshire clubs meet at the George Hotel, Huddersfield on 29 August 1895. They vote unanimously to form the Northern Rugby Football Union (NU) and allow broken-time payments.
1896 - Manningham of Bradford win first NU Championship.
1897 - To make the game more exciting, the NU abolishes the line-out and reduces value of all goals to two points. Tries worth three points. Batley beat St Helens in first Challenge Cup final.
1904 - First international match: England (3) Other Nationalities (9) at Wigan.
1906 - Modern rugby league is born when the number of players is reduced from fifteen to thirteen a side. Rucks and mauls after a tackle replaced by the play-the-ball.
1907 - Rugby league spreads to Australia and New Zealand. First New Zealand side, organised by A.H. Baskerville, tours Britain.
1908 - First Australian Kangaroo tourists visit Britain. Hunslet win ‘All Four Cups’a grand slam of all competitions.
1910 - First British tour to Australia and New Zealand.
1914 - Huddersfield’s Albert Rosenfeld scores a record 80 tries in one season. British tourists defeat Australia 14-6 to win Ashes in final test, finishing with only ten men in what becomes known as ‘Rorke’s Drift’Test match.
1915 - Huddersfield, known as ‘The Team of all The Talents’, win all four cups, led by Harold Wagstaff. GLORY DAYS
1921 - Harold Buck becomes the game’s first £1,000 transfer when he moves from Hunslet to Leeds. Featherstone Rovers become a professional team.
1922 - Northern Union changes its name to the Rugby Football League.
1926 - Castleford join the RFL.
1927 - First radio broadcast of Challenge Cup final by the BBC.
1928 - Swinton win all four cups.
1929 - First Challenge Cup Final to be played at Wembley - Wigan defeat Dewsbury 13-2 in front of 41,500.
1930 - Unprecedented fourth test match played between Britain and Australia at Rochdale after third test is drawn 0-0. Britain win the test 3-0 to take the Ashes.
1932 - First rugby league match under floodlights: Leeds v Wigan at White City in London.
1933 - First rugby league club in London: London Highfield.
1934 - Rugby league established in France by Jean Galia, former rugby union international and champion boxer. By 1939 the French league has 225 clubs and the national side beats England and Wales to take the European championship.
1943 - A Northern Command army rugby league side defeats a Northern Command union side 18-11 at Headingley playing rugby union rules. The following year a Combined Services RL side beats a Combined Services union side 15-10 at Bradford. These are the only RL v RU matches played until 1996.
1946 - Lance Todd trophy first presented to Challenge Cup final man of the match. Wakefield’s Billy Stott is first winner. Lance Todd, killed in a car accident in 1942, was a 1907 NZ tourist who managed Salford from 1928-40.
1946 - Workington join the League, followed by Whitehaven in 1948.
1948 - First televised RL match, Wigan versus Bradford cup final, broadcast to the Midlands.
1949 - Challenge Cup Final tickets sold-out for first time. 95,050 see Bradford beat Halifax. First Southern Amateur Rugby League formed.
1954 - 102,569 pay to see Warrington defeat Halifax 8-4 in Challenge Cup final replay at Odsal, Bradford, but thousands more get in for free.
1954 - First Rugby League World Cup staged in France. Great Britain beat France16-12 in final at Parc des Princes, Paris.
1958 - Great Britain defeat Australia 25-18 in the second test match at Brisbane with only eight fit players on the pitch. Captain Alan Prescott plays for 77 minutes with a broken arm and match becomes known as ‘Prescott’s Match’. 1964 - Substitutes allowed for the first time, but only for players injured before half-time.
1966 - Four tackle rule introduced, increased to six in 1972.
1967 - Professional Rugby League matches allowed on Sundays for the first time, although amateurs had played on Sundays since 1956.
1969 - Universities and Colleges Rugby League formed after student pioneers fight hard to get Rugby League recognised in higher education. First university game was between Leeds and Liverpool in 1968.
1970 - Great Britain win the Ashes in Australia after winning the final two test matches.
1972 - Timekeepers and sirens introduced for first time.
1973 - Two divisions introduced permanently into Rugby League. The British Amateur Rugby League Association is formed in Huddersfield.
1974 - Drop goal reduced from two points to one point. Modern Times
1981 - First Oxford versus Cambridge University match.
1982 - Australian tourists win all tour games for first time and become known as 'The Invincibles'.
1983 - Try increased to four points, sin-bin introduced and handover after sixth tackle, instead of a scrum, begins.
1986 - Old Trafford hosts rugby league for the first time when over 50,000 see Australia overcome Great Britain 38-16.
1987 - Wigan defeat Manly 8-2 for unofficial World Club Championship. In 1989 Widnes beat Canberra 30-18 in first official Championship.
1988 - Rugby League Hall of Fame inaugurated. Nine players inducted in first year.
1990 - Russia takes up Rugby League. Blood-bin introduced.
1992 - Record 73,631 at Wembley see Australia defeat Great Britain 10-6 in the World Cup final. Martin Offiah leaves Widnes for Wigan in a world record £440,000 transfer.
1993 - USA defeats Canada 54-14 in its first Rugby League international match.
1995 - Wigan win the Challenge Cup for a record eighth consecutive time. They also win the league title for a record seventh consecutive time.
Super League
1996 - First season of Super League, following 1995 RFL decision to switch to summer and sign a lucrative contract with BSkyB. St Helens win the inaugural Super League title.
1997 - Bradford Bulls win Super League with London Broncos finishing runners-up.
1998 - Grand Final and play-offs introduced into Super League. Wigan Warriors defeat Leeds Rhinos 10-6 in first Grand Final.
1999 - Leeds Rhinos defeat London Broncos 52-16 in last Challenge Cup Final at Wembley. St Helens defeat Bradford Bulls 8-6 in Grand Final in front of more than 50,000 at Old Trafford.
2000 - Bradford Bulls defeat Leeds Rhinos 24-18 in the Challenge Cup, played for the first time in Scotland at Murrayfield. St Helens win the Super League Grand Final 29-16 over Wigan Warriors. Australia win the World Cup final 40-12 over New Zealand at Old Trafford after a record sixteen nations enter the tournament.
2001 - St Helens take the Challenge Cup final 13-6 over the Bulls, which is held at Twickenham, Rugby Union’s ‘HQ’, for the first time ever. Over 60,000 people see Bradford Bulls defeat Wigan Warriors 37-6 in the Super League Grand Final. Australia take the Ashes, winning the final two test matches at Bolton and Wigan despite losing to Great Britain 20-12 in the first test at Huddersfield.
2002 - Bradford Bulls take the World Club Championship after defeating Australian champions Newcastle Knights 41-26. Wigan Warriors win Challenge Cup Final at Murrayfield, overcoming St Helens 21-12. St Helens snatch a last minute Grand Final win over the Bulls to lift the Super League trophy 19-18 before 61,138 people, the highest crowd at a championship final for 42 years. Great Britain lift the inaugural Baskerville Trophy after the Test series against New Zealand is tied and in signposts for the future, Russia defeated the United States 54-10 in front of over 25,000 spectators in Moscow, and Lebanon beat France 36-6 in Tripoli.
2003 - Bradford Bulls became the first club to win the Challenge Cup and Super League Grand Final in the same season. They defeated Leeds Rhinos in front of 71,212 fans at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff and Wigan Warriors in the Grand Final before a record, sell-out crowd of 65,537 at Old Trafford, Manchester. Great Britain were narrowly defeated in all three sell-out Test matches by Australia.
2004 - Super League IX smashed the average weekly attendance record with figures of 8,570, generated by an aggregate attendance of 1,439,851 supporters. St Helens defeated Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff in front of a sell-out 73,734 crowd, while Leeds Rhinos were crowned Super League Champions defeating Bradford Bulls in front of another sell-out crowd at the Grand Final.