Rugby Football League

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Rugby Football League
New RFL logo.png
Founded29 August 1895
Formerly namedNorthern Rugby Football Union (1895-1922)
RLIF affiliation1948
RLEF affiliation2003 [1]
Responsibility Flag of England.svg England
Headquarters Leeds, United Kingdom
Key people Brian Barwick [2] (Chair)
Ralph Rimmer (Interim) (Chief Executive)
Competitions Super League
League 1
Rugby League Conference
Challenge Cup
League 1 Cup
World Club Series
World Club Challenge
Flag of England.svg
As of 30 June 2009

The Rugby Football League is the governing body for professional rugby league in England. [3] The name Rugby Football League previously also referred to the main league competition run by the organisation. This has since been supplanted by Super League, the Championship and League 1.

Rugby league in England

Rugby league is played across England but is most popular in Northern England, especially Yorkshire and Lancashire where the game originated. These areas are the heartland of rugby league. The sport is also popular in Cumbria where the amateur game is particularly powerful.

Super League professional rugby league

Super League is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in the Northern Hemisphere. The league has twelve teams: eleven from England and one from France.

League 1, is a semi-professional rugby league competition based in the United Kingdom. The competition also features clubs from Wales, and previously included clubs from Canada and France. It is the Rugby Football League's (RFL) third-tier competition, below the Championship, with which it has promotion and relegation.


The Patron of the Rugby Football League is Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex [4] .

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex Duke of Sussex; a member of the British royal family

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, is a member of the British royal family. He is the younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Diana, Princess of Wales, and is sixth in the line of succession to the British throne. He was officially styled Prince Henry of Wales from birth until his marriage, but is known as Prince Harry.

Based at Red Hall in Leeds, it administers the England national rugby league team, the Challenge Cup, Super League and the Rugby League Championships. The social and junior game is administered in association with the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA). The Rugby Football League is a member of the Rugby League European Federation and as a senior Full Member has a combined veto power over the Council with France. The RFL is part of the Community Board, which also has representatives from BARLA, Combined Services, English Schools Rugby League and Student Rugby League. Tony Adams will take over as the president in 2019, taking over from Andy Burnham.

Leeds City in England

Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Leeds has one of the most diverse economies of all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city. It also has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.

England national rugby league team sportsteam that represents England

The England national rugby league team represents England in international rugby league.

The Challenge Cup is a knockout rugby league cup competition organised by the Rugby Football League, held annually since 1896, with the exception of 1915–1919 and 1939–1940. It involves amateur, semi-professional and professional clubs.

Established as the Northern Rugby Football Union (often shortened to Northern Union) in August 1895 by representatives of twenty-one Rugby Football Union clubs at a meeting at the George Hotel, Huddersfield, it changed its name in 1922 to the Rugby Football League, [5] mirroring its sister organisations overseas, the Australian Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby Football League.

Rugby Football Union rugby union governing body of England, Guernsey and the Isle of Man

The Rugby Football Union (RFU) is the governing body for rugby union in England. It was founded in 1871, and was the sport's international governing body prior to the formation of what is now known as World Rugby (WR) in 1886. It promotes and runs the sport, organises international matches for the England national team, and educates and trains players and officials.

George Hotel, Huddersfield

The George Hotel in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, England, is a Grade II listed building famous as the birthplace of rugby league football in 1895. The 60 bed hotel was built in 1851 and closed in January 2013, with the receivers looking for a new buyer.

Huddersfield Town in West Yorkshire, England

Huddersfield is a large market and university town in West Yorkshire, England. It is the 11th largest town in the United Kingdom, with a population of 162,949 at the 2011 census. It lies 14 miles (23 km) southwest of Leeds and 24 miles (39 km) northeast of Manchester.

The turnover of the RFL was reported as £27m in 2011. [6] [7]


On Tuesday 27 August 1895, as a result of an emergency meeting in Manchester, prominent Lancashire rugby clubs Broughton Rangers, Leigh, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan declared that they would support their Yorkshire colleagues in their proposal to form a Northern Union.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. With a population of 545,500 (2017) it is the sixth largest city in the United Kingdom. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.

Two days later, on Thursday 29 August 1895, representatives of 21 clubs met in the George Hotel, Huddersfield to form the "Northern Rugby Football Union" (usually termed Northern Union or NU). Twenty clubs agreed to resign from the Rugby Football Union, but Dewsbury felt unable to comply with the decision. The Cheshire club, Stockport, had telegraphed the meeting requesting admission to the new organisation and was duly accepted with a second Cheshire club, Runcorn, admitted at the next meeting.

The 22 clubs and their years of foundation were:

RFL Founding Clubs
Batley colours.svg
Batley FC 1880 Batley, West Yorkshire
Bradford F.C. 1863 Bradford, West Yorkshire
Brighouse Rangers RFC 1873 Brighouse, West Yorkshire
Broughton Rangers FC 1877 Broughton, Lancashire
Halifax 1873 Halifax, West Yorkshire
Huddersfield FC 1864 Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
Hull F.C. 1865 Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
Hunslet FC 1883 Leeds, West Yorkshire
Leeds FC 1864 Leeds, West Yorkshire
Leigh colours.svg
Leigh FC 1878 Leigh, Lancashire
Liversedge RFC 1877 Liversedge, West Yorkshire
Manningham F.C. 1876 Bradford, West Yorkshire
Oldham FC 1876 Oldham, Lancashire
Rochdale colours.svg
Rochdale Hornets FC 1871 Rochdale, Lancashire
Runcorn RFC 1895 Runcorn, Cheshire
St Helens R.F.C. 1873 St. Helens, Lancashire
Stockport RFC 1884 Stockport, Cheshire
Tyldesley FC 1879 Tyldesley, Lancashire
Wakefield Trinity 1873 Wakefield, West Yorkshire
Warrington FC 1876 Warrington, Lancashire
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes FC 1875 Widnes, Lancashire
Wigan FC 1872 Wigan, Lancashire
The Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup 1896 NRFU Challenge Cup.jpg
The Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup 1896

In 1908 the Northern Union's brand of rugby was taken up in Australia and New Zealand. The Union hosted touring sides from both countries before assembling a Great Britain representative team for a 1910 tour of Australia and New Zealand. These nations, particularly Australia, would go on to excel in the sport and gain significant influence over it over the following century.

The British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) was created in 1973 in Huddersfield by a group of enthusiasts concerned about the dramatic disappearance of many amateur leagues and clubs. Fewer than 150 amateur teams remained with a mere 30 youth rugby league teams. The 'breakaway' from the RFL was acrimonious and was strongly contested, with a vote 29-1 against recognising BARLA. Thanks to Tom Mitchell, this changed to a unanimous vote of approval for BARLA within 12 months.

Maurice Lindsay became the Chief Executive of the RFL in 1992, proposing the Super League, which replaced Championship as the sport's premier league competition from 1996 onwards. Lindsay returned to Wigan in 1999 for his second stint at the club after Sir Rodney Walker, then chairman of the RFL, sacked him after a campaign to unseat him failed. [8]

The RFL accumulated losses of £1.9 million at the end of 2001, shortly before a major restructuring of the governing body and the appointment of Richard Lewis as executive chairman in May 2002. [9] Within a year of joining the RFL, he oversaw reunification with BARLA after nearly 30 years of division. [10] Lewis left in 2012 to become Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. [11] The RFL net value has been positive every year since 2004, being £1.7M in 2011. [6]

In 2011 a major change to the game was agreed, changing from a winter to a summer game, starting in 2012 with a playing season from March to November, aligning with the Super League, which has played this way since 1996. The regional leagues may include winter competitions in addition. [6]

In 2012, the Rugby Football League were awarded the Stonewall Sport Award in recognition of their work in embracing inclusivity and tackling homophobia. [12] They also became the first UK sporting organisation to make the top 100 employers in the Stonewall Index that measures attitudes towards lesbian, gay and bisexual staff. [13]


The RFL operates a five-tier system and is responsible for running the top three professional divisions as well as the National Conference League and various regional leagues below that. The RFL also runs two cup competitions for professional clubs and is involved with the organization of the World Club Challenge and World Club Series.

RFL Leagues
Super League 11996
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
Championship 22003
HKRcolours.svg Toronto Wolfpack
League 1 32003
New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg York City Knights
National Conference League 41986
Faxcolours.svg Siddal
RFL Domestic Cups
Challenge Cup 1896
Hullcolours.svg Catalans Dragons
League 1 Cup 2015
Cougscolours.svg Keighley Cougars
RFL International Cup
World Club Challenge 1976
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
World Club Series 2015
Flag of England.svg Super League


English national team

Team information
Governing bodyRugby Football League
Region Europe
Head coach Wayne Bennett
Captain Sean O'Loughlin
Most caps Kevin Sinfield (34)
Top try-scorer Ryan Hall (24)
Top point-scorer Kevin Sinfield (208)
RLIF ranking 3rd
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body redshoulders.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
First colours
Team results
First international
Flag of England.svg  England 9–3 Other Nationalities
(Wigan, England; 5 April 1904)
Biggest win
Flag of the United States.svg  United States 0–110 England  Flag of England.svg
(Orlando, Florida, USA; October 2000)
Biggest defeat
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 52–4 England  Flag of England.svg
(Melbourne; 2 November 2008)
World Cup
Appearances5 (first time in 1975 )
Best resultRunners-up, 1975; 1995

The England national rugby league team represent England in international rugby league football tournaments. The team has now seen a revival, having largely formed from the Great Britain team, who also represented Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The team is run under the auspices of the Rugby Football League. As of 2008, the team now participates in all World Cups, Four Nations, and Test matches. [14]

The team dates back to 1904 when they played against a mixture of Welsh and Scottish players in Wigan. [15] Since then, and right up until the 1950s, they regularly toured Australia and New Zealand and played both home and away matches against neighbours Wales and France. But when it was decided that Great Britain would tour the Southern Hemisphere instead of England, France and Wales became the only regular opponents. Even then though, there are some long periods where England barely played any matches. Their first appearance in the Rugby League World Cup was in 1975, and since then they have become runners-up in 1975 and 1995, the latter tournament being held in England. In 2008 they competed in the 2008 World Cup in Australia. For many years England also competed in the European Nations Cup and in 2006, an England 'A' team, competed for the Federation Shield. In the past England's main rivals have been Wales and France, with the rivalry stretching back to 1908 and 1934 respectively. However, England's main rivals would now be Australia, New Zealand and, to a lesser extent, France.

Traditionally a predominantly white kit is worn including white shorts and socks. However the shirt usually features some form of red, like red stripes, crosses or chevrons. These colours are similar to other English sporting teams and are the colours used on the national flag. In 2008 a new kit was introduced featuring a red cross on the front and red strips down the sides of the shirt, shorts and socks were white too with red strips. [16] Also in 2008 the Rugby Football League chose to abandon the traditional English lion on the badge in favour of a much simpler shield and cross design, [17] nevertheless the team will still be known as "The Lions".

Currently the team is ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand. Steve McNamara became head coach leaving Bradford to take the national job and Sean O'Loughlin is the current captain.

Great Britain national team

Great Britain
Team information
NicknameThe Lions
Governing bodyRugby Football League
Region Europe
Captain Jamie Peacock
Most caps Mick Sullivan (46)
Garry Schofield (46)
Top try-scorer Mick Sullivan (41)
Top point-scorer Neil Fox (228)
Kit left arm.svg
Kit body GBRL.png
Kit body.svg
Kit right arm.svg
Kit shorts.svg
Kit socks long.svg
First colours
Team results
First international
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand 6–14 Great Britain  Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
(Headingley, Leeds, England, United Kingdom; 18 January 1908)
Biggest win
Flag of Fiji.svg  Fiji 4–72 Great Britain  Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
(Suva, Fiji; October 1996)
Biggest defeat
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia 64–10 Great Britain  Flag of the United Kingdom.svg
(Sydney, Australia; July 2002)
World Cup
Appearances9 (first time in 1954 )
Best resultWinners, 1954; 1960; 1972

The Great Britain national rugby league team represents Great Britain in rugby league football. Administered by the Rugby Football League (RFL), the team is nicknamed "The Lions" or "Great Britain Lions".

For most of the 20th century the Great Britain team was assembled to go on tours overseas, and to play against foreign touring teams, as well as competing in Rugby League World Cup tournaments. They were one of the strongest teams in rugby league, though usually playing second fiddle to Australia. They won the Rugby League World Cup on three occasions: 1954, 1960 and 1972.

Since 1995 the RFL have pretended to send the home nations as separate teams for World Cup purposes. Great Britain continued to compete as a test playing nation both home and away. They competed against Australia for the Ashes, and New Zealand for the Baskerville Shield, as well the Tri-Nations series with both Australia and New Zealand. Great Britain also played in series and tours against other nations such as France, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

In 2006, the RFL announced that after the 2007 All Golds Tour [18] the Great Britain team would no longer compete on a regular basis, and that players would be able to represent England, Wales and Scotland at Test level. It is planned that the Great Britain team will come together in future only for occasional tours, similar to the British and Irish Lions in rugby union.

Board of directors

The RFL board consists of the following:

Brian BarwickChairmanFormer chief executive of the FA. [2]
Ralph RimmerChief Operating OfficerCurrent COO & Interim CEO of the RFL
Maurice Watkins, CBESenior Non-Executive DirectorSports lawyer from Brabner Chaffe Street in Manchester and a former director of Manchester United.
Bob StottNon-Executive DirectorFormer Chief Executive of Morrisons Plc.
Clare MorrowNon-Executive DirectorCurrent Chair of Welcome to Yorkshire.

Young People's Advisory Panel

The RFL launched the Young People's Advisory Panel in 2010, a group consisting of young people aged 16–25 from across England. The national panel meet at least three times a year at the RFL's Red Hall headquarters to discuss and debate the following:

Two nominated members will also sit on the youth & junior forum, a key device used to advance youth rugby league. [19] [20]


1988–1989 Les Bettinson Salford
1989–1990S. Ackroyd Halifax
1990–1991 Harry Jepson OBE Leeds
1991–1992 Maurice Lindsay Wigan
1992–1993 Colin Hutton Hull Kingston Rovers
1993–1994R. Waudby Hull F.C.
1994–1995R. Teeman Bramley
1995–1996Kath Hetherington Sheffield Eagles
1997W.J. Mason Hunslet
1998–1999T. Smith Widnes
1999–2000W. Garrett Warrington
2000–2001Ralph Calvin Whitehaven [21]
2001–2002M. White Swinton
2002–2003R. Taylor Rochdale Hornets
2003–2004T. Fleet Widnes
2004–2005 Gary Hetherington Leeds
2005–2006P. Hindle Castleford
2006–2007S. Wagner Featherstone Rovers
2007–2008G. Liles Hunslet
2008–2009K. Nicholas Batley
2009–2010Chris Hamilton Oldham
2010–2011 Bev Risman OBE
2011–2012J. Whaling
2012–2013J. Hartley
2013-2014David Oxley CBE
2015-2016Andrew Farrow
2016–2018Air Commodore Dean Andrew OBEUnited Kingdom Armed Forces
2018–2019 Andy Burnham

2019-present Tony Adams

The first logo used by the RFL was an oval shape, representing the ball with XIII and 13 over it and The Rugby Football League around it. The logo was also seen on the sleeve of teams shirts.

RFL logo used until 2017 rebrand Rugby Football League 2005 logo.svg
RFL logo used until 2017 rebrand

In the late 1990s the logo was changed to a more simplistic design to the old one. It had a rugby ball shape with three small lines, representing 13 players, and two long lines, representing goalposts, arranged on a rugby ball so as to suggest a hand carrying or passing it. The Rugby Football League was abbreviated to RFL.

In 2017 the RFL had its most radical rebrand since the formation of Super League. The new logo was a rectangular background meant to represent The George Hotel in Huddersfield, where rugby league was founded and 1895 the year it was founded. Thirteen stripes inside it represent thirteen players. The oval on top represents the ball and the appreciation RFL has been replaced with Rugby Football League.


Red Hall, RFL HQ Red Hall Leeds Sep 2012.jpg
Red Hall, RFL HQ

The RFL moved into permanent headquarters in 1922 at 180 Chapeltown Road, Leeds, where it stayed for 73 years before leaving in 1995 to its current HQ at Red Hall in Leeds, a Grade II listed brick building dating from 1642. [22] [23]

In 2015, some departments including Super League, moved to offices at Quay West in the Trafford section of Salford Quays. [24]

See also

Related Research Articles

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International Origin

International Origin is the annual series of rugby league football matches between England RL and the Exiles. The International Origin was created by the RFL to ensure that the English national side had a good strong mid-season international very much like Australia has with their State of Origin series. The RFL intended this to be an annual one off game and it was in 2011, however this progressed to a two-game series in 2012. Plans are in the works to make this into a three-game series for the future, however it was scaled back to a standalone fixture in 2013 due to a lack of interest from both players and spectators.

The Great Britain women's national rugby league team, also known as the Great Britain Lionesses, represents Great Britain in Women's rugby league. They are administered by the Rugby Football League. The Great Britain Lionesses have placed third in every Women's Rugby League World Cup in which they have competed. In 2006, the RFL announced that after the 2007 All Golds Tour the Great Britain team would no longer compete on a regular basis, and that players would be able to represent England, Wales and Scotland at Test level. It is planned that the Great Britain team will come together in future only for occasional tours, same as the Great Britain Lions.


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