2nd November 2019, 07:45 | great_britain

RIP Hugh Waddell | A Tribute

RIP Hugh Waddell | A Tribute

Great Britain’s famous victory over Australia in Sydney in 1988 is widely regarded as one of their more improbable - and there was certainly no-one in the Lions team that day who had taken a less likely route to international Rugby League than Hugh Waddell.

Originally from Staffordshire, Waddell asked for a trial with Blackpool Borough with neither experience nor expectation during a seaside holiday with his girlfriend. “I took to it like a duck to water,” he reflected in a recent interview with author and journalist Richard de la Riviere.

Within months he was rampaging through a strong Oldham team in a Lancashire Cup tie at Watersheddings. That led to a move to the Roughyeds, where he became a highly popular figure, and performed well enough to earn a place in the 1988 Great Britain squad.

Even then, selection for the third Test came as something of a surprise - but he more than held his own against the likes of Sam Backo to lay the platform for those famous tries by Phil Ford, Henderson Gill and Mike Gregory.

"I came from nowhere, got a chance to play at that level, then went back to nowhere," Hugh said - but that was doing the rest of his career a considerable disservice.

He won the Yorkshire Cup with Leeds, the Second Division Premiership with Sheffield, and had a short off-season stint with Manly - and everywhere he went, he seemed to be as popular with supporters as he was with team-mates.

He was back in Blackpool this summer for the Summer Bash, and remained a regular at Lions get-togethers.

His death at the age of 60, which was confirmed late on Friday, has therefore shocked and saddened his many friends in Rugby League - and the Rugby Football League sends condolences to his friends and family, and joins the tributes to a fine player and a convivial man.