29th May 2019, 09:20 | homefeature
In the year in which the Great Britain Rugby League team will return to the international stage, the Rugby Football League pays tribute to a man whose immense and varied contribution to the game included a significant spell as coach of the national team three decades ago.
Maurice Bamford, whose death was announced last week, was appointed as the Great Britain coach in the autumn of 1984, having inspired his local club, Leeds, to triumph in the John Player Trophy earlier that year.
His first two matches in charge, both against France, saw a stark contrast - between an exhilarating 50-4 victory at Headingley, and a surprise 24-16 defeat in Perpignan.
But it was in the autumn of 1985 that Bamford really put his stamp on the team, in a home series against New Zealand. The first Test at Headingley was lost 24-22 against a Kiwi line-up including such outstanding players as Kurt Sorensen and Mark Graham. But Bamford’s team, built around the toughness of no-nonsense forwards such as Brian Case, David Watkinson and Ian Potter, hit back to square the series with a 25-8 win at Central Park, in which a young Garry Schofield scored four tries.
The third Test was a ferocious encounter at Elland Road, with Lee Crooks kicking a late penalty to secure a 6-6 draw. The series captured the imagination of the rugby league public and well beyond, and did much to restore the image of the Great Britain team after they had been consistently beaten by Australia and New Zealand in the previous two years.
Bamford stayed in charge for the 1986 Ashes series, but his team were beaten 3-0 by Wally Lewis’s Kangaroos.
He remained closely involved with the game in a number of different roles, with one particularly successful stint in charge of Bramley.
The RFL sends its condolences to his family and friends.
Maurice Bamford's funeral will take place at 12.00 midday on Friday 7th June at Elland crematorium - a celebration event afterwards will take place at Headingley.