Harold Wagstaff

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Harold Wagstaff
Personal information
Full nameHarold Wagstaff
Born9 May 1891
Holmfirth, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Died19 July 1939 (aged 48)
Playing information
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1906–25 Huddersfield 436 175 12 549
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1908–23 Yorkshire 15 4 0 12
1910–23 England 6 5 3 0 21
1911–22 Great Britain 12 2 0 0 6
Source: [1][2][3][4]

Harold Wagstaff (9 May 1891 – 19 July 1939) was an English rugby league footballer of the early 20th century. He played as a centre and was nicknamed the Prince of Centres. A captain of Great Britain,[4] he also played representative football for England,[3] and Yorkshire. Wagstaff has been inducted into the Rugby Football League Hall of Fame, and the Huddersfield Giants Hall of Fame.


Wagstaff was born in the village of Underbank within Holmfirth on 9 May 1891[5] and first played at local amateur side, Underbank Rangers, aged 14.

Playing career[edit]


Wagstaff's first professional game, for Huddersfield in 1906, was at the age of 15 years and 175 days, he was thus the youngest person to play professional rugby league. He then became the youngest representative in rugby league football when he turned out for Yorkshire age 17 years and 141 days,[6] and a few months later made his début for England against the first ever touring Australian side: the 'First Kangaroos' of 1908.


By 1912 Wagstaff was appointed captain of Huddersfield, aged 19,[7] he captained Huddersfield at centre in their 2-8 loss against Wakefield Trinity in the 1910 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1910–11 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 3 December 1910, played right-centre, i,e, number 3, and scored a try in the 22-10 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in the 1911 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1911–12 season at Belle Vue, Wakefield on Saturday 25 November 1911,

In 1914 Wagstaff was made captain of Great Britain, a post held during that year's tour of Australia and New Zealand, he was captain in the famous 'Rorke's Drift' match on 4 July 1914.[8] Wagstaff and played right-centre, i.e. number 3, and scored 2-tries in the 31-0 victory over Hull F.C. in the 1914 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1914–15 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 28 November 1914. During his career as the captain of the Huddersfield team, known as The Team of all The Talents, he led them to victory in the Rugby League Challenge Cup, the Championship Trophy, the Yorkshire County Cup, and the Yorkshire County League in 1915, they thus became the second of only three teams ever to win All Four Cups, the others being Hunslet (1908) and Swinton (1928).

Wagstaff was also stationed in Egypt during World War I.


Wagstaff once again captained Great Britain on their 1920 tour of Australasia. In November that year, rugby league's first players' union, the 'Northern Rugby Union Players' Union was founded in Huddersfield under the chairmanship of Wagstaff and his Huddersfield team-mate Gwyn Thomas as secretary; the enrolment fee was five shillings with a weekly contribution from each member; the declared aims of the union were (i) the promotion of the spirit of comradeship amongst the players, (ii) to redress grievances, (iii) to obtain modification of the transfer rules and (iv) to obtain benefits for players after fixed term of service.

Wagstaff played his last Test match in January 1922, when he helped Great Britain beat Australia and regain the Ashes,[9] his career had lasted for 19 years until his retirement in 1925.


Wagstaff was the manager of the Royal Swan Hotel, Westgate, Huddersfield,[10] and died in 1939. In 1988 he was inducted into the British Rugby League Hall of Fame,[11] he was one of five famous players to feature on a set of British stamps issued in 1995 to commemorate the centenary of Rugby League. Wagstaff and his contribution to Anglo-Australian rugby league culture were the subject of 2003's annual Tom Brock Lecture, given by Tony Collins.


  1. ^ Gate, Robert (2003). Rugby League Hall of Fame. Stroud: Tempus. p. 209. ISBN 978-0-7524-2693-8.
  2. ^ "Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Great Britain Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Harold Wagstaff". britannica.com. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc. Retrieved 20 February 2011.
  6. ^ Norris McWhirter, Donald McFarlan (1992). The Guinness Book of Records 1992. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-85112-378-3. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  7. ^ Collins, Tony (2006). Rugby League in Twentieth Century Britain. UK: Taylor & Francis. p. 8. ISBN 9780415396141. Retrieved 15 February 2011.
  8. ^ Kearney, L. H. (16 March 1940). "40,000 Cheered When Wagstaff's 1914 Team Beat Australians With Eleven Men". Sunday Mail (Brisbane).
  9. ^ Deryck Marshall Schreuder, Stuart Ward (2008). Australia's empire. Oxford University Press. p. 353. ISBN 0-19-927373-1. ISBN 9780199273737.
  10. ^ "Huddersfield v Keighley Match Programme Monday 24 April 1939" (PDF). rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
  11. ^ "Harold Wagstaff". therfl.co.uk. UK: The Rugby Football League Limited. Retrieved 20 February 2011.

External links[edit]