21 Jan 2021

Cliff calls time on 70-year Rugby League career

Cliff calls time on 70-year Rugby League career

Distinguished Rugby League official Cliff Hodgson has announced his retirement from the game – at the age of 80. 

A lifelong member of the Cumbria Referees Society, Cumberland-born Cliff has been involved in Rugby League since taking up the game at school in 1951. Cliff earned county honours as a schoolboy, but his burgeoning career was cut short after he badly injured a shoulder during a trial match for Workington Town. 

In 1963, poacher-turned-gamekeeper as Cliff took up refereeing; 15 years later he’d become a highly-respected Grade One official – and respected not only for the Cumberland sausages he used to share around at the senior referees’ meetings. By the 1980s Cliff was officiating at matches across the country and overseas.  

Cliff retired from refereeing in 2001 and took on a role coaching Cumbria’s match officials. He also became an RFL Match Commissioner, most recently for the 2019 Challenge Cup Final between St Helens and Warrington Wolves at Wembley Stadium.  

RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer paid tribute. He said: “Cliff didn’t just dedicate his working life to Rugby League – he’s dedicated his ‘retirement’ to it as well. He was a popular choice as Match Commissioner for the 2019 Challenge Cup Final and was absolutely meticulous in his preparation. Everything went to plan on the day.  

“Cliff was also very active in his local community in Broughton Moor, west Cumbria, where he once volunteered to help a senior citizens group when in his early 40s and became its secretary for the next 30 years. That is typical of the man. We’ll certainly miss him at the RFL and wish him a long and happy retirement.”