Jim Sullivan (rugby league)

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Jim Sullivan
J. Sullivan - Wigan.jpg
Cigarette card featuring Jim Sullivan
Personal information
Full nameJames Sullivan
Born(1903-12-02)2 December 1903
Cardiff, Wales
Died14 September 1977(1977-09-14) (aged 73)
Cardiff, Wales
Playing information
Rugby union
Position Fullback
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1920–21 Cardiff RFC 381
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
Barbarians
Rugby league
Position Fullback
Club
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1921–46 Wigan 774832,3174,883
(guest)Dewsbury 27
(guest)Keighley 3
(guest)Bradford Northern 1
Total805830
Representative
YearsTeamPldTGFGP
1921–39 Wales 26360129
1924–33 Great Britain 25064128
1933–34 England 301428
1937 British Empire XIII 1036
Other nationalities 6
Coaching information
Club
YearsTeamGmsWDLW%
193252 Wigan
195258 St. Helens
195861 Rochdale Hornets
1961 Wigan
Total0000
Source: [1] [2] [3] [4]

Jim Sullivan (2 December 1903 – 14 September 1977) [5] was a Welsh rugby league footballer, and coach. [1] Sullivan joined Wigan in June 1921 after starting his career as a rugby union player. A a right-footed toe-end style (rather than round the corner style) goal-kicking fullback, he scored 4,883 points in a career that spanned 25 years with Wigan, and still holds several records with the club today.

Contents

He made a combined total of 60 appearances at representative level with England, Wales, Great Britain and Other Nationalities, and his 26 appearances with Wales was still a record for many years after his death. He also represented Wales in British baseball.

Early life

Sullivan was born at Cardiff, Glamorgan, Wales. [6] He attended St Alban's School, and joined his hometown rugby union team Cardiff at the age of 16. [7] He made his début against Neath in October 1920, and went on to make 38 appearances for the club. [8] In December 1920, 26-days after his seventeenth birthday, [6] he played for the Barbarians in a match against Newport, [8] becoming the youngest player to represent the team. [7] While playing for Cardiff, Sullivan served an apprenticeship to become a boilermaker. [8] He was also a British baseball player, and appeared for Wales in a match against England in 1921. [9] His performances attracted the attention of several rugby league clubs, including Wakefield Trinity, Hull FC, Huddersfield and Wigan. [7]

Rugby league career

In June 1921, Sullivan turned professional and joined rugby league side Wigan, reportedly signing a 12-year contract for a fee of £750. [7] He made his début in August 1921, converting five goals in a 21–0 win against Widnes. He made his first representative appearance in December 1921, playing for Wales in a 16–21 defeat against Australia.

Jim Sullivan played fullback, and scored 4-conversions in Wigan's 13-2 victory over Oldham in the Championship Final during the 1921–22 season at The Cliff, Broughton on Saturday 6 May 1922, [10] played fullback, and scored 4-conversions in the 22-10 victory over Warrington in the Championship Final during the 1925–26 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens on Saturday 8 May 1926. [11] played fullback, and scored 2-conversions, and a drop goal in Wigan's 15–3 victory over Salford in the Championship Final during the 1933–34 season at Wilderspool Stadium, Warrington on Saturday 28 April 1934, [12] and played fullback in the 12–5 victory over Dewsbury in the Championship Final second-leg during the 1943–44 season at Crown Flatt, Dewsbury on Saturday 20 May 1944 (Joe Jones having played fullback in the first-leg). [13]

Jim Sullivan played fullback, and scored 4 conversions in Wigan's 20–2 victory over Leigh in the 1922–23 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1922–23 season at the Willows in Weaste, Salford on Saturday 25 November 1922, [14] played fullback, and scored a conversion in the 11–15 defeat by Swinton in the 1925–26 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1925–26 season at The Cliff, Broughton, Salford, on Wednesday 9 December 1925, played fullback, and scored a conversion in the 2–5 defeat by Swinton in the 1927–28 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1927–28 season at Watersheddings, Oldham on Saturday 19 November 1927, played fullback, and scored a conversion in the 5–4 victory over Widnes in the 1928–29 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1928–29 season at the Willows, Salford, on Saturday 24 November 1928, [15] played fullback, and scored 2-conversions in the 12–21 defeat by Salford in the 1934–35 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1934–35 season at Station Road, Swinton, on Saturday 20 October 1934, played fullback, and scored 2-conversions in the 7–15 defeat by Salford in the 1935–36 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1935–36 season at Wilderspool Stadium, Warrington on Saturday 19 October 1935, played fullback, and scored a conversion in the 2–5 defeat by Salford in the 1936–37 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1936–37 season at Wilderspool, Warrington on Saturday 17 October 1936, and played fullback and scored 5-conversions in the 10–7 victory over Salford in the 1938–39 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1938–39 season at Station Road, Swinton on Saturday 22 October 1938. [16]

On 14 February 1925, he landed 22 goals against amateurs Flimby & Fothergill in the Challenge Cup, which is still a record. [17] He toured with the Great Britain Lions three times (1924, 1928 and 1932) and was captain on the last occasion. He top-scored on all three tours. He refused what would have been a record fourth trip, in 1936, for personal reasons.

For twenty years, he dominated at fullback, representing Great Britain (25 times), Wales (26), England (3), Other Nationalities (6), British Empire (1), Glamorgan (1) and Glamorgan & Monmouthshire (12). [3] [2] He was Wales' most capped player for over 70 years before his record was surpassed by Ian Watson in 2010. [18] During the Second World War, he played infrequently for Wigan, as he chose to appear as a guest for a number of other clubs, including Dewsbury, Keighley and Bradford Northern. His last season before retiring was in 1945–46 – the season when the peacetime league resumed – and played his last game against Batley in February 1946. [7]

When he removed his Wigan jersey for the last time, he had made 774 appearances and amassed 2,317 goals and 4,883 points for the club. These figures are still unchallenged. He scored a club record of 161 goals in 1934-35 and a record total of 204 goals in 1933-34 [19] (including representative games). He had won three league Championships, two Challenge Cups and three Lancashire Cups.

Appearance Record

Sullivan holds the world record for the most first team appearances in the sport of Rugby League. In his 25 year career, Sullivan made 928 first team appearances, a figure unmatched anywhere in the world. [20]

Coaching career

Having been captain-coach at Wigan since 1932, Sullivan continued managing the team after retiring as a player in 1946, creating one of the club's greatest sides by winning a record five championships and a brace of Challenge Cups. [4]

Jim Sullivan was the coach in Wigan's 8-3 victory over Bradford Northern in the 1948–49 Challenge Cup Final during the 1947–48 season at Wembley Stadium, London on Saturday 1 May 1948, in front of a crowd of 91,465. [21]

In 1952 he joined St. Helens, overseeing their rise. Jim Sullivan was the coach in St. Helens' 10–15 defeat by Huddersfield in the 1953–54 Challenge Cup Final during the 1952–53 season at Wembley Stadium, London on Saturday 25 April 1953, in front of a crowd of 89,588, [22] and was the coach in the 13-2 victory over Halifax in the 1956–57 Challenge Cup Final during the 1955–56 season at Wembley Stadium, London on Saturday 28 April 1956, in front of a crowd of 79,341.

Jim Sullivan was the coach in St. Helens' 44-22 victory over Hunslet in the Championship Final during the 1958–59 season at Odsal Stadium, Bradford on Saturday 16 May 1959.

He later returned to Wigan as coach in 1961, but left months later due to ill health.

Jim Sullivan died in his home town of Cardiff on 1 November 1977 at the age of 73. He was one of the inaugural inductees of the British Rugby League Hall of Fame in October 1988. He is also an inductee of the Wigan Hall of Fame, and the St Helens Hall of Fame.

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References

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  2. 1 2 "England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. 1 2 "Great Britain Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. 1 2 "Coach Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. "Boy wonder who became a legend". Wigan Evening Post. 14 September 1977.
  6. 1 2 Jim Sullivan profile Archived 19 July 2009 at the Wayback Machine rugbyrelics.com
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 Morris, Graham (2005). Wigan Rugby League Football Club: 100 Greats. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. pp. 116–7. ISBN   978-0-7524-3470-4.
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  9. "Rugby greats made a mark on the Diamond". WalesOnline. Media Wales. 30 December 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
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  11. "1925-1926 Championship Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
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  13. "1943–1944 War Emergency League Championship Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  14. "1922–1923 Challenge Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  15. "1928–1929 Lancashire Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  16. "1938–1939 Lancashire Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  17. "RECORDS" Archived 28 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine at wiganwarriors.com
  18. "Gareth Thomas scores on Wales début in loss to Italy". BBC Sport. 6 October 2010. Retrieved 11 December 2013.
  19. Baker, William Joseph (1988). Sports in the Western world. University of Illinois Press. p. 243. ISBN   9780252060427.
  20. http://www.rugby-league.com/the_rfl/about_the_rfl/history__heritage/all_time_records
  21. "1947-1948 Challenge Cup Final". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  22. McCorquodale, London S.E (25 April 1953). The Rugby League Challenge Cup Competition – Final Tie – Huddersfield v St Helens – Match Programme. Wembley Stadium Ltd. ISBN n/a