Scottish National League (rugby league)
The Scottish National League was first played for in 1997 under the name The Scottish Conference before changing to its current name the following season and is the top tier domestic rugby league club competition in Scotland. It was renamed the Scottish RL Conference League between 2007 and 2011 and formed a division of the Rugby League Conference competition; the first domestic Scottish club were the Forth & Clyde Nomads who played in the 95/96 North-East League but folded shortly before the announcement about a new Scottish rugby league competition. They made history when they won the first domestic competition, the Scottish Challenge Cup in 1996 beating Stirling University 30-24; the first title was won by Lomond Valley Raiders who came top in a 5 team competition, which remains the only season where it was first past the post. The following three seasons saw different champions each season, Border Raiders in their debut season in 1998, Edinburgh Eagles in 1999 against fellow Edinburgh side Portobello Playboys and Glasgow Bulls in 2000, before in 2001 the Eagles lifted the first of a hat-trick of title wins.
In 2002 the league reverted to one division the following season. The Eagles dominance was ended by Fife Lions in the 2004 Grand Final; the following season saw one season wonders Royal Scots Steelers from Edinburgh beat Fife Lions in the final. The Lions regained the title in 2006 before the Edinburgh Eagles returned for a second hat-trick run of title successes including the first two against Fife Lions. In 2010 a new name was carved onto the trophy when Carluke Tigers gained revenge for their previous seasons final defeat in extra-time against Edinburgh Eagles by defeating the all-conquering team 14-10; the Eagles lifted the next two titles against finals debutants Ayrshire Storm in 2011 and Aberdeen Warriors in 2012. In that 2011 season the league once again ran two divisions this time on a regional basis Central and North; this lasted until 2014. Aberdeen Warriors have now replaced the Edinburgh Eagles as the dominant force in the league after winning four straight titles 2013-16. 2017 saw.
2018 saw the Eagles return to the top of the pack after a 6 years overturning the 2017 Champions Strathmore Silverbacks on points difference. Many of the teams run junior teams in the National Youth League; the inaugural Scottish Conference kicked off on the 27 July when Linlithgow Lions lost at home against Lomond Valley Raiders 50-68. Five teams contested that debut season, eventual champions Lomond Valley Raiders, runners-up Central Centurions, Linlithgow Lions, Inverness RL and Glasgow based Whitecraigs Warriors; the Raiders went through the season unbeaten. Five teams once again contested the newly retitled Scottish National League new clubs Edinburgh Eagles, Border Raiders and Glasgow Bulls replaced Central Centurions, Inverness RL and Whitecraigs Warriors; the Border Raiders who had former Great Britain international Hugh Waddell in their ranks lifted the title when they beat Edinburgh Eagles in the inaugural Grand Final at Hillhead Sports Club in Glasgow 40-14. As champions the Raiders were entered into the Challenge Cup and on the 6 December 1998 history was made when they took to the field against Wath Brow Hornets at Hillhead Sports Club losing by only 10-34.
The league increased to six clubs with Edinburgh based Portobello Playboys joining the league. The Grand Final was once again played at Hillhead Sports Cub in Glasgow and was contested by the two Edinburgh clubs following their play-off victories against Border Raiders and Linlithgow Lions. In the final table toppers and favourites Edinburgh Eagles beat Portobello Playboys 48-20; as champions the Eagles progressed into the Challenge Cup and a round 1 home meeting with top amateur side Woolston Rovers. After being 0-16 down at half-time the club nearly pulled off an almighty shock before going down 12-17; the same six teams competed, one though. Off the field Scotland Rugby League were recognised by SportScotland in October 1999 and on the field it seemed a certainty that Edinburgh Eagles would retain their title having gone through the season losing just one game to reach the Grand Final, their opponents were Glasgow Bulls who having finished in 4th place with 5 wins and 5 defeats had reached the final following play-off wins over Rhu Raiders and league runners-up Border Raiders.
In the final the Bulls pulled off a massive upset in winning 47-22 at Royal High Corstorphine RFC in Edinburgh. In the Challenge Cup the Glasgow Bulls lost to Wigan Rose Bridge 0-72; the same six clubs competed again in a season disrupted by an outbreak of foot-and-mouth. Once again Edinburgh Eagles and Glasgow Bulls contested the Grand Final having gone through the season losing just one game, against each other. In the final played at West of Scotland FC in Glasgow the Eagles came out on top 30-16, at one point they led 30-0. In the Challenge Cup the Eagles lost at home to Leigh East 10-68; the league expanded to two divisions of four. Division 1 consisted of reigning champions Edinburgh Eagles, runners-up Glasgow Bulls, Portobello Playboys and Dumbarton Dragons who were known as Rhu Raiders but had relocated to Loch Lomond. In Division 2 were Border Raiders, Fife Lions who were called Linlithgow Lions but moved to Fife and two new clubs south Glasgow based Lanarkshire Storm and Clyde Buccaneers.
Portobello won Division 1 remaining unbeaten and defeated 3rd placed Glasgow Bulls in the play-offs, in the other play-off Edinburgh Eagles saw off Division 2 winners Fife Lions 58-6. In the Grand Final played at Cavalry Park in Edinburgh Edinburgh Eagles beat the Portobello Playboys 46-24. In the Challenge Cup Edinburgh Eagles lost at
Halifax R. L. F. C. is a professional rugby league club in Halifax, West Yorkshire, which formed in 1873. Halifax were one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, they have won the Challenge Cup five times. They were known as the Halifax Blue Sox between 1996 and 2002, they have rivalries with neighbours Bradford and Huddersfield and with fellow Championship side Featherstone Rovers. Known as ` Fax', the club colours are white shorts and blue and white socks, they share the Shay stadium with Halifax Town. The club was founded as Halifax in 1873. After winning the first Yorkshire Cup in 1878, they went on to win it on another four occasions. Several players were picked for the Yorkshire County side in these years, five were for the England rugby union team. In 1886, the club moved to Thrum Hall; the first game there was played on 18 September 1886 against Hull F. C. and drew 8,000 spectators. Halifax were founding members of the breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895.
In 1896, Halifax lost out on winning the first Rugby Football League Championship by a single point, with Manningham becoming the inaugural champions. In 1902–03, they achieved the'double' by winning the Challenge Cup and finishing top of Division One, they won the cup again the following season, were the first Championship play-off winners in 1906–07. Halifax won their first Wembley Challenge Cup final in 1931, beating York 22–8. An estimated 100,000 people lined the route to a civic reception at the town hall. Towards the end of the 1937 season and Mitcham folded after just one full season in the league; the club had made a number of high-profile signings from the New Zealand All Blacks, including George Nepia and Charles Smith, these players now joined Halifax. In 1938, Halifax reached the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, after winning three replays in a row, before they were knocked out by Barrow at Fartown, Huddersfield in the dying seconds of the game. In 1939, Halifax became the last team to win the Challenge Cup final before the war.
Favourites Salford were beaten 20–3 in front of a record 55,453 spectators. In 1947 Halifax's Hudson Irving died from a heart attack. In 1949, Halifax's David Craven died after breaking his neck playing against Workington Town; the 1949 Challenge Cup final was sold out for first time as 95,050 spectators saw Bradford Northern beat Halifax. In the 1950s, Halifax were Championship runners-up three times, beat Hull F. C. in Yorkshire Cup finals in 1954 and 1955, were Yorkshire League winners in 1950, 1953, 1954 and 1956. Halifax were unbeaten at their home ground of Thrum Hall between December 1952 and November 1956, they played in a Wembley final of the 1953–54 Challenge Cup, featuring in the first drawn final against Warrington in 1954, losing in the replay at Odsal Stadium, Bradford in front of what was a world record rugby league crowd given as 102,569, although estimates suggest another 20,000 plus entered unofficially. After securing a Yorkshire league and cup double in 1955–56, the club was in sight of winning "All Four Cups".
Wembley was reached after an 11–10 Challenge Cup semi-final victory over Wigan at Odsal and Halifax beat St. Helens 23–8 in the Championship semi-final. However, St Helens ran out 13–2 winners in the Challenge Cup and a week Halifax lost in the Championship match against Hull at Maine Road, Manchester, a last minute penalty goal securing a 10–9 victory for Hull. In 1959, Halifax hosted Wigan before a club record 29,153 people in the third round of the Challenge Cup. Halifax finished 7th in the league in the 1964–65 season and won the Championship Final after a 16-team play-off. Halifax was hit hard by the financial situation of the late 1960s, 1970s. Fortunes on the pitch suffered. In 1970, a concert was held at Thrum Hall in an attempt to alleviate these financial troubles. Horrific weather conditions meant that only around 3,000 arrived to watch the Halifax Pop and Blues Concert which made a loss of £6,000. Despite victory in the inaugural Regal Trophy Final in 1971–72, financial problems continued for the next decade.
In 1983, local businessman, David Brook provided much needed investment in the club. Chris Anderson was player-coach of Halifax from November 1984 to May 1987 when he retired from playing to be coach in 1987–88; the team won the League Championship in 1985–86, the 1986–87 Challenge Cup against St. Helens and made a second successive appearance in the Challenge Cup final in 1988 when they lost to Wigan. Despite this on-field success, Halifax were banned from signing new players by the RFL after complaints of non-payments in November 1988. In 1989, John Dorahy took up a position as captain-coach of Halifax for the 1989–90 season. Halifax players threatened strike action over unpaid wages in April 1990; the club sold Neil James for £20,000 to pay wages but were still in financial trouble including an unpaid tax bill of £70,000. Halifax went into the hands of receivers, £760,000 in debt, a take-over bid having failed after the players refused to take a pay cut; the club was re-formed and the assets were purchased by the Marsland/Gartland consortium of local businessmen.
Peter Roe was appointed as head coach at Halifax for season 1990–91 when they achieved promotion along with Salford who were their opponents in the Divisional Final at Old Trafford. The club's record victory was set in October 1990 with an 82–8 win over Runcorn Highfield at Thrum Hall. Roe was removed from office 24-hours when he refused to re-apply for his own job; the Halifax board stated that he did not hav
Cheltenham is a regency spa town and borough on the edge of the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire, England. Cheltenham has been a health and holiday spa town resort since the discovery of mineral springs in 1716 and has a number of internationally renowned and historic schools; the town hosts several festivals of culture featuring nationally and internationally famous contributors and attendees, including the Cheltenham Literature Festival, the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, the Cheltenham Science Festival, the Cheltenham Music Festival, the Cheltenham Cricket Festival, the Cheltenham Food & Drink Festival. In steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup is the main event of the Cheltenham Festival, held every March. Cheltenham stands on the small River Chelt, which rises nearby at Dowdeswell and runs through the town on its way to the Severn, it was first recorded as Celtan hom. As a royal manor, it features in the earliest pages of the Gloucestershire section of Domesday Book where it is named Chintenha.
The town was awarded a market charter in 1226. Though little remains of its pre-spa history, Cheltenham has been a health and holiday spa town resort since the discovery of mineral springs there in 1716. Captain Henry Skillicorne, is credited with being the first entrepreneur to recognise the opportunity to exploit the mineral springs; the retired "master mariner" became co-owner of the property containing Cheltenham's first mineral spring upon his 1732 marriage to Elizabeth Mason. Her father, William Mason, had done little in his lifetime to promote the healing properties of the mineral water apart from limited advertising and building a small enclosure over the spring. Skillicorne's wide travels as a merchant had prepared him to see the potential lying dormant on this inherited property. After moving to Cheltenham in 1738, he began improvements intended to attract visitors to his spa, he built a pump to regulate the flow of water and erected an elaborate well-house complete with a ballroom and upstairs billiard room to entertain his customers.
The beginnings of Cheltenham's tree-lined promenades and the gardens surrounding its spas were first designed by Captain Skillicorne with the help of "wealthy and traveled" friends who understood the value of relaxing avenues. The area's walks and gardens had views of the countryside, soon the gentry and nobility from across the county were enticed to come and investigate the beneficial waters of Cheltenham's market town spa; the visit of George III with the queen and royal princesses in 1788 set a stamp of fashion on the spa. The spa waters can still be sampled at the Pittville Pump Room, built for this purpose and completed in 1830. Cheltenham's success as a spa town is reflected in the railway station, still called Cheltenham Spa, spa facilities in other towns that were inspired by or named after it. Alice Liddell and Lewis Carroll were regular visitors to a house in Cudnall Street, Charlton Kings – a suburb of Cheltenham; this house was owned by Alice Liddell's grandparents, still contains the mirror, or looking glass, purportedly the inspiration for Lewis Carroll's novel Through the Looking-Glass, published in 1871.
Horse racing began in Cheltenham in 1815, became a major national attraction after the establishment of the Festival in 1902. Whilst the volume of tourists visiting the spa has declined, the racecourse attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to each day of the festival each year, with such large numbers of visitors having a significant impact on the town. In the Second World War, the United States Army Service of Supply, European Theatre of Operations established its primary headquarters at Cheltenham under the direction of Lt. Gen. John C. H. Lee, with the flats of the Cheltenham Racecourse becoming a giant storage depot for countless trucks, jeeps and artillery pieces. Most of this materiel was reshipped to the continent after the D-Day invasion. Lee and his primary staff took residence at Thirlestaine Hall in Cheltenham. On 1 April 1974, under the Local Government Act 1972, the borough of Cheltenham was merged with Charlton Kings urban district to form the non-metropolitan district of Cheltenham.
Four parishes—Swindon Village, Up Hatherley and Prestbury—were added to the borough of Cheltenham from the borough of Tewkesbury in 1991. The first British jet aircraft prototype, the Gloster E.28/39, was manufactured in Cheltenham. Manufacturing started in Hucclecote near Gloucester, but was moved to Regent Motors in Cheltenham High Street, considered a location safer from bombing during the Second World War. Cheltenham is on the edge of the Cotswolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in the South-West region of England; the small River Chelt flows through the town. Cleeve Hill overlooks the town and is the highest point in the county of Gloucestershire at 1,083 feet; the town is near the northeastern edge of the South West of England region being 88 miles west-northwest of London, 38 miles northeast of Bristol and 41 miles south of Birmingham. The districts of Cheltenham include: Arle, Charlton Kings, Fiddler's Green, Hesters Way, Leckhampton, Montpellier, Pittville, the Reddings, Rowanfield, St Luke's, St Mark's, St Paul's, St Peter's, Swindon Village, Tivoli, Up Hatherley, Whaddon an
The London Broncos are a professional rugby league club in Ealing, who compete in the Super League, the first tier of professional rugby league football. They competed in the Super League from its introduction in 1996 until the end of the 2014 season; the current head coach is Danny Ward, assisted by England and Great Britain international Jamie Langley. The London Broncos earned promotion to the Super League by winning the Million Pound Game against the Toronto Wolfpack in 2018; the Broncos are captained by Jay Pitts and play at the Trailfinders Sports Ground in Ealing, sharing with the rugby union side Ealing Trailfinders. The club was formed as Fulham in 1981, entering the Rugby Football League Championship's second division for the 1980–81 Rugby Football League season; the club has been known as London Crusaders, London Broncos and Harlequins Rugby League. Whilst the club has never won a major trophy, they were finalists in the 1999 Challenge Cup and finished the 1997 Super League season in second place.
The only trophy the club has won since its formation in 1980 is the Rugby Football League Championship Second Division in 1982–83. Professional rugby league was represented in London in the 1930s by London Highfield and Willesden and Streatham and Mitcham. All were speculative clubs set up by local businessmen purely as money making exercises, were driven out of business through poor finances. Thereafter, the sport of rugby league in England remained a Northern game for over forty years until the formation of new club in London, Fulham. In 1980, Fulham Football Club chairman Ernie Clay, set up a rugby league team at Craven Cottage, with the intention of creating another income stream for the football club. Warrington director Harold Genders, who had helped to persuade Clay of the benefits of starting a rugby league club in the capital, resigned from the Warrington board to become managing director of Fulham R. L. F. C; the Rugby Football League, keen to encourage the expansion of the sport beyond its traditional Northern heartland, accepted the new club at once.
One of the game's leading players, Reg Bowden, was recruited by Genders to act as player-coach and the club's first signing was Roy Lester on a free transfer from Warrington. Within nine weeks and Bowden had assembled a team of experienced players approaching retirement, together with a few promising youngsters. Nearly 10,000 Londoners turned up for the opening game at Craven Cottage to see the newly formed side convincingly beat regarded Wigan 24–5; the new Fulham RL team proved to be competitive and went on to win promotion at the end of their inaugural season. After their initial season, immediate relegation from the first division in 1981–82 was something of a reality check. Fulham played two "home" games against Swinton and Huddersfield at Widnes in 1983 as the pitch at the Cottage had disintegrated in the wet winter following the collapse of the main drain to the River Thames under the Miller Stand. Despite winning the Division Two Championship in 1982–83, a second immediate relegation in 1983–84 coupled with continuing financial losses saw Clay, under pressure from the Fulham board, pull the plug at the end of their fourth season.
However, with the backing of supporters Roy and Barbara Close and with a new coach, former player Roy Lester, Fulham RL still had a future. Most of the players had moved on as free agents and a new team began life at the Crystal Palace National Sports Centre; the club moved to Chiswick Polytechnic Sports Ground in 1985. They played several one-off games at football grounds around London such as Wealdstone, Hendon and Chelsea's ground Stamford Bridge in 1983. Bill Goodwin replaced Lester as coach between 1986 and 1987. In August 1986, Fulham hit a cash crisis and withdrew from RFL 11 days before the start of the season but re-launched in September. Bev Risman was asked to be coach at Fulham in 1987; the team was in the bottom half of the second division. The team struggled for success and Risman left after a couple of seasons and Bill Goodwin returned. Phil Sullivan was coach for just two months between January and February 1989, Goodwin came in for his third spell and held the reins until May 1989 when Ross Strudwick was appointed.
The club returned to Crystal Palace in 1990. A 1991 name change to London Crusaders coincided with a more successful period on the pitch. Ross Strudwick was replaced as coach by Darryl van der Velde in 1992 but continued as manager until 1993; the Crusaders moved from Crystal Palace National Sports Centre to Barnet Copthall arena in June 1993. In November 1993, London Crusaders imposed 20% pay cut to ease financial problems; the RFL owned the Crusaders in 1993–94 as the Bartrams departed but Crusaders' new owners were Britannic Shipping. The climax of the Crusaders era was a 1994 appearance in the Divisional Premiership Final under coach Tony Gordon, they lost 22–30 to Workington Town with Mark Johnson scoring a hat-trick and Logan Campbell bagging a try. In the spring of 1994 it was announced that the Australian NRL club the Brisbane Broncos, who had just won back-to-back premierships, was buying the London team, which would be renamed London Broncos. Gordon was replaced by Gary Grienke; the first home game under the Broncos moniker was against Keighley at Hendon F.
C.'s ground on Clairmont Road. During a period of improving fortunes they made the 1994 Divisional Premiership Final at Old Trafford. Despite not playing in the top flight, London Broncos were selected by the RFL to be part of the new Super League competition in 1996 on the basis that it was essential
League 1 (rugby league)
League 1, is a semi-professional rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom. The competition features clubs from Wales, included clubs from Canada and France, it is the Rugby Football League's third-tier competition, below the Championship, with which it has promotion and relegation. The league was inaugurated in 2003 when the Northern Ford Premiership was divided into two separate leagues named National League One and National League Two. In 2009, the league names were changed to the Championship and Championship 1 with the latter adopting its current name of League 1 in 2015. Third-division rugby league competitions in the United Kingdom have existed periodically since 1991; the current incarnation was created in 2003 when the second-division competition below Super League, the Northern Ford Premiership, was split into National Leagues One and Two. Teams that finished in the top ten league positions of the Northern Ford Premiership at the end of the 2002 season formed National League One, while the remaining eight formed National League Two where they were joined by two additional clubs, London Skolars from the Rugby League Conference and York City Knights, who replaced the defunct York Wasps and joined National League Two for the inaugural season in 2003.
At the end of the 2005 Super League season, an extra team was relegated to National League One in order to accommodate French side Catalans Dragons' entry to the competition. In turn, an additional team was relegated from National League One to League Two, while Blackpool Panthers were elected to National League Two for the 2005 season to replace the defunct Chorley Lynx, leaving 11 teams in League Two. In order to up the numbers, the Welsh team Celtic Crusaders were admitted to the competition in 2005, first playing in the 2006 season and increasing the division to twelve teams. In 2009 Super League was expanded to 14 teams, with two additional teams being promoted from National League One. In turn, two additional teams were promoted from National League Two to National League One at the end of the 2008 season, reducing the number of teams in National League Two to 10. National Leagues One and Two were rebranded as Championship and Championship 1 with the change being implemented in time for the 2009 season.
South Wales Scorpions were admitted to Championship 1 for the 2010 season, increasing the number of teams in the league to 11. Blackpool Panthers left the league in 2011, once again reducing the number of teams to 10. In 2013, three new teams were admitted to the league. To facilitate this expansion, in 2012 four teams were promoted to the Championship from Championship 1 and no teams were relegated from the Championship, meaning that the 2013 Championship 1 season was contested by 9 teams. In 2014 expansion and restructure took place with 5 teams relegated from the Championship and Coventry Bears added to expand the league to 14 teams, renamed League 1. A new playoff structure was introduced with two teams being promoted to the Championship. In 2015 the League 1 Cup was introduced as an additional competition for League 1 clubs. In 2016 Toulouse Olympique joined the league, bringing the total number of teams to 15. Toronto Wolfpack joined the league in 2017, bringing the total number of teams to 16.
In 2016, the Super 8s format, used in the Super League and Championship was introduced to League 1. Under the amended structure, the 16 League 1 clubs play a regular season of 15 rounds, playing each other once either home or away. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 16 clubs compete in a playoff series where they split into 2 divisions of 8 based upon league position: The top eight League 1 clubs compete in the League 1 Super 8s, they play each other once to determine the champion and the four clubs that will compete in the playoffs for the second promotion place. The remaining clubs compete for the League 1 Shield; this format remained in use for the 2017 season but on 26 October 2017, it was confirmed that Oxford Rugby League and Gloucestershire All Golds will not compete for the 2018 season, in favour of creating a merged club in Bristol for 2019. This reduces the number of clubs to 14 and for 2018 the Super 8 format has been discarded and instead the teams will play a 26 game season.
The club top of the table after 26 games will automatically be promoted to the Championship and those finishing second to fifth will play off for the other promotion spot. The format was modified for 2019 following an RFL extraordinary general meeting in September 2018; the number of clubs in the division will be reduced to 12 and the top six teams will compete for two promotion places to the Championship. However on 23 October 2018, Hemel Stags announced that the club was withdrawing from the league for 2019 reducing the number of teams to 11; the team finishing top of the 11-team league after the 20-game regular season will automatically be promoted a series of six further matches will decide the second promotion spot. *capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity. Teams play each other once home and away in a round robin system. At the end of the season the team finishing first is promoted to the Championship. There is no relegation from League 1. Teams finishing between 2nd and 6th compete in a playoff to decide the second promotion spot.
In the play-offs first round there are two.
Rugby league in England
Rugby league is played across England but is most popular in Northern England Yorkshire and Lancashire where the game originated. These areas are the heartland of rugby league; the sport is popular in Cumbria where the amateur game is powerful. Within its Northern heartlands, rugby league is referred to as "rugby", a term that in the rest of England would refer to rugby union, as "football", which in the North of England refers to association football. See also: History of rugby league Rugby has long been popular in the North of England and by the 1880s the region's clubs had come to dominate; the game was popular amongst working class people, unlike the clubs in Southern England whose players belonged to the middle or upper class. Rugby competition at the time did not allow paying players any wages; the principle of amateurism, issues of class ensured that the Rugby Football Union would not countenance professional rugby. In August 1895, representatives of the northern clubs met at the George Hotel, Huddersfield to form the "Northern Rugby Football Union".
The NRFU was vehemently anti-professional, allowing only payments for time missed from other employment. A thriving amateur scene soon developed, as local amateur clubs wished to maintain links with their "Northern Union" neighbours; the Northern Union made reforms to the laws in 1897 and again in 1906 in an effort make the game more exciting. This resulted in Northern Union football becoming a sport in its own right rather than a form of rugby union; the sport spread outside England and soon international matches began to be played. The first international match was played in 1904 as England was beaten 9-3 at Central Park, Wigan by "Other Nationalities"; this was followed by a tour of Britain by New Zealand in 1907. New Zealand met Great Britain in Great Britain's first Test match at Headingley, Leeds on 18 January 1908; the same year the first Australian Kangaroos tourists visited Britain. In 1910 the first British tour to Australia and New Zealand took place; the Challenge Cup began in 1897 with Batley beating St Helens to win the first title.
The final was first broadcast by BBC radio in 1927. The Wembley tradition was started in 1929 when Wigan beat Dewsbury 13-2 at the first Rugby League Challenge Cup to be held at Wembley. Rugby league continued to be played throughout the 1914-15 season, the loss of players to the First World War, a government ban on professionalism and reduced attendances forced all major competitions to be replaced by regional competitions; the NRFU became the Rugby Football League in 1922. The 1930s saw a series of failed attempts to introduce rugby league football to London. During the Second World War professional rugby league was again discontinued, normal leagues were suspended, a War Emergency League was established, with clubs playing separate Yorkshire and Lancashire sections to reduce the need for travel. In 1948 the first televised rugby league match was played when Wigan's 8–3 Challenge Cup Final victory over Bradford Northern was broadcast to the Midlands. In another first this was the first rugby league match to be attended by the reigning monarch, King George VI, who presented the trophy.
Several attempts were made to expand the game outside the heartlands, a Southern Amateur Rugby League being formed in 1949, however only Cumberland and southern areas of the West Riding of Yorkshire proved receptive with teams being founded in Workington and Doncaster. Nonetheless the game survived, continued to maintain popularity in its home regions; the introduction of regular internationals as other countries took up the sport provided a fillip. Rugby league experienced a surge in interest following the end of the Second World War. Large crowds came to be the norm for a period of around 20 years; the total crowds for the British season hit a record in 1949–50, when over 69.8 million paying customers attended all matches. The 1953–54 Challenge Cup Final replay between Halifax and Warrington, held at Odsal Stadium, drew 102,575 paying spectators with an estimated 20,000 others getting in free after a section of fencing collapsed; the boom had begun to subside by the early 1960s. David Attenborough controller of BBC2, made the decision to screen games from a new competition the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy in 1965.
It proved a success, rugby league has featured on television since. Attendances fell further in the 1970s. Britain won the Ashes for the last time in 1970, with a 2–1 series win in Australia; the foundation of the Universities and Colleges Rugby League in 1969 and the British Amateur Rugby League Association in 1973 was a response to the need to develop the game below professional level. In June 1980, Fulham F. C. announced the formation of a rugby league team, with the primary intention of creating another income stream for the association football club. The Rugby Football League accepted the new club; this was not the first rugby league club to be based in London—three London-based clubs had come and gone in the 1930s. However unlike the past ventures the new team survived despite several moves and name changes, as London Broncos are playing in the top division of the game in the U. K; the 1982 Kangaroos won all their tour games for first time they became known as "The Invincibles". This was the time when the gap between English and Australian rugby league became ap
Salford Red Devils
The Salford Red Devils are a professional rugby league club in Salford, Greater Manchester, who play in the Super League. Formed in 1873, they have won one Challenge Cup, their home ground since 2012 has been the AJ Bell Stadium in Barton-upon-Irwell, before which they played at the Willows in Weaste. Before 1995, the club was known as Salford, from 1995–98 Salford Reds and from 1999–2013 Salford City Reds; the club was founded in 1873 by the boys of the Cavendish Street Chapel in Manchester. Using a local field, the boys organised matches amongst themselves before moving to nearby Moss Side. In an attempt to recruit new members, the link with the school was broken in 1875 and the name Cavendish Football Club was adopted, they moved to a new base on the Salford side of the River Irwell at Throstle Nest Weir in Ordsall. Two seasons they moved again to the west side of Trafford Road to a ground known as the Mile Field where they spent the 1877–78 season, their next home was a field north of New Barnes.
Their first season there, 1878–79, was the last to be played under the Cavendish name. Cavendish became Salford Football Club in 1879; the first match as Salford was at Dewsbury on 4 October 1879. The following week heralded the first home match at New Barnes against Widnes, on 11 October 1879; the result was a draw with one try each. Salford struggled to attract support. In 1881, they disbanded but instead merged with the Crescent Football Club; this placed Salford on the rugby map, it was an exciting period and, during the remaining 15 years as members of the Rugby Football Union, seventeen Salford players were selected for Lancashire, three by the North of England and two, Harry Eagles and Tom Kent, for England. Since the 1881 merger, only 62 matches were lost from 263 played in the remaining nine years of the decade. In 1889, Salford moved their headquarters to the nearby London and North Western Hotel on Cross Lane. Salford switched from their traditional amber and scarlet hoops to red jerseys.
The club became the first side to win the Lancashire League in 1892–93. In 1895, the leading Lancashire and Yorkshire clubs formed the breakaway Northern Union, Salford remained loyal to the Rugby Football Union but in April 1896 Salford held a special meeting to discuss joining the new organisation. Only three members opposed the motion. Salford were admitted to the Northern Union on 2 June 1896, their first competitive Northern Union match was on Saturday, 5 September 1896, with a visit to Widnes. The Reds, competing in the Lancashire Senior Competition, lost 10–0, only three matches were won in the League that season, their form improved and they finished third place in 1898–99. In 1900, Salford met old local rivals, Swinton, in the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Fallowfield, Manchester. After a keenly fought contest, the result was a 16–8 win for Swinton. In 1900, Salford received notice to vacate New Barnes as the Manchester Ship Canal Company had purchased the land. Salford agreed a 14-year lease on 5 acres of land belonging to the Willows Estate Company, named after the abundance of willow trees in the area.
Salford made their début at the Willows on 21 December 1901, beating Swinton 2–0, the official attendance reaching 16,981. James Lomas became rugby league's first £100 transfer, from Bramley to Salford in 1901; the club continued making progress in the Rugby League Challenge Cup, reaching the semi-final stages in 1902, 1903, 1906, 1907 and 1910. On three occasions, they succeeded in reaching the final, but lost 0–25 to Broughton Rangers in 1902, 0–7 to Halifax in 1903 and 0–5 to Bradford in 1906; the Championship proved elusive, the Reds finishing runners-up for three consecutive seasons from 1901–02. In the last of those and Bradford finished level on points with Salford having the superior scoring record. Despite that, the Reds had to take part in a deciding match at Halifax, which they lost 5–0; the Kiwis known as the All Golds, visited in 1907, Salford played them on 28 December, losing 9–2 in front of a reported 9,000 spectators. Lance Todd, to have such an influence at the Willows 20 years was in the New Zealanders' side.
A year the Australians stopped off at the Willows on 17 October. The result was a 9–9 draw. Salford won the Rugby Football League Championship in 1913–14; the club had financial problems and was in the hands of the official receiver but somehow in the Championship final, beat Huddersfield's "Team of All Talents" 5–3 on 25 April 1914, this was the club's first major honour. In August 1914, the Salford Football Club Company was wound up and a new company, Salford Football Club Limited was formed. During the First World War, Salford continued to function. Thirty-two Salford players volunteered for the war; the 1920s was an era of survival, on and off the field, the team opening the decade with their worst league placing, finishing last in 1920–21. There was a dramatic change of fortune during the summer of 1928 when Lance Todd became team manager. In his first season in charge, "Toddy's Toddlers" went from 26th to fourth place in the table with the same set of players. Gus Risman was talent-spotted by Lance Todd.
He made his début for Salford on 31 August 1929. Other legendary names included Alan Edwards, Jack Feetham, Barney Hudson, Emlyn Jenkins, Billy Watkins and Billy Williams. Salford were considered the leading club in the game during the 1930s, winning three League Championships, five Lancashire League Championships, four Lancashire Cups and the Rugby League Challenge Cup. Salfo