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7th January 2020, 14:07 | 125

#RFL125 | This Week in Rugby League

#RFL125 | This Week in Rugby League

It may be hard to believe in the era of summer Rugby League but there have been a number of memorable fixtures in the opening week of the year, even on New Year’s Day! 

In 1906, England began the year with a 3-3 draw against an ‘Other’ side in Wigan with Jim Lomas scoring England’s only try. Three years later, Australia would compete on New Year’s Day as part of the 1908-09 Kangaroos Tour hammering Widnes 55-3.  

England and Australia would eventually meet on New Year’s Day in 1912 at Villa Park, Birmingham in the final game of a three-game Ashes Series. England fell to a disappointing 8-33 loss meaning they lost the series. Doug Clark and Jim Lomas scored England’s tries. 

The countries would meet on January 2 in 1909 with England earning a memorable 14-9 victory at Fartown, Huddersfield. A George Tyson double alongside tries from Billy Batten and Percy Holroyd would see England win as part of the 1908-09 Kangaroos Tour. 

Australia have played a host of club and representative British sides in January winning all five of their fixtures - Widnes (55-3 - 1/1/1909, 13-2 - 6/1/1909), Leeds (8-6 - 6/1/1912), Hunslet (19-10 - 2/1/1922), Cumberland (25-12 - 7/1/1922). 

The Kangaroos Tours between 1948-49 to 1967-68 saw the Aussies add a French element to their trip facing the French national side on a handful of occasions in addition to club teams such as RC Roanne, Carcassonne, Languedoc, SO Avignon, Catalan XIII, Montpellier and RC Marseille during the first seven days of the year. 

On the domestic stage, January played host to the Regal Trophy final from 1972 to 1996 and it twice took place in the opening week of the year. 

In 1980, Bradford Northern won the Regal Trophy thanks to a 6-0 victory over Widnes at Headingley Stadium, Leeds. Nine years later, it was Wigan who lifted the Regal Trophy at Burnden Park, Bolton as they also overcame Widnes. The Warriors earned a 12-6 win in front of over 20,000 spectators with Ellery Hanley and Kevin Iro notching Wigan’s tries. 

Away from the field, in 1992, the Rugby League transfer record was broken as Wigan Warriors signed England and Great Britain speedster Martin Offiah for a whopping £440,000. 

On New Year’s Day, in 2019, the Rugby Football League introduced the shot clock and reduced interchanges while Super League also brought in the Golden Point rule for their competition. 

Did you know? 

January 1: In 1908, the first true international in Northern Union history took place between the New Zealand ‘All Golds’ and Wales. A crowd of 17,000 saw Wales win 9-8 in Aberdare.

January 2: In 1924, Sharlston Rovers appealed their Northern Union Challenge Cup defeat at the hands of Castleford Tigers on the ground that Castleford had fielded suspended players. Their appeal was dismissed. 

January 3: In 1922, Oldham RLFC prop-forward Fred Brown was awarded an insurance payment of six pounds and five shillings (£6.25) for injuries suffered playing for Wales against Australia on 10th December.

January 4: In 1950, Canadian Olympic sprinter Ted Haggis arrived in Britain to have trials with Warrington. His first game was at Batley. Haggis’s son, Paul, would on to win two Oscars for Best Motion Picture in 2004 and 2005 and co-write two James Bond films. 

January 5: In 1938, Huddersfield Giants were paid an additional £5 on top of a £5 fee for straw to keep snow off the pitch at their Fartown ground to ensure the third Test between England and Australia went ahead.

January 6: In 1920, the Northern Union granted benefit matches to four players: Thomas Barton (St Helens), Arthur Naylor (Warrington) and Joe Riley & Asa Robinson (Halifax). 

January 7: In 1954, a committee was set up to liaise with the BBC to televise as many matches as possible, despite concerns from some that television was having an adverse effect on attendances.


Born on this day:

January 1: Brian McLennan (Former St Helens Head Coach), Willie Isa (Wigan Warriors) 

January 2: Joseph Paulo (St Helens), Gregg McNally (Leigh Centurions), Tom Spencer (Leigh Centurions)

January 3: Chris Green (Wakefield Trinity), Thibaut Margalet (Catalans Dragons & France), Oscar Thomas (Rochdale Hornets & Scotland), Lloyd Roby (Widnes Vikings)

January 4: Bevan French (Wigan Warriors), Jackson Hastings (Wigan Warriors & Great Britain), Elliot Morris (Halifax RLFC), Jared Simpson (Huddersfield Giants), Harvey Livett (Hull Kingston Rovers) 

January 5: Mike Forshaw (Former Great Britain International), Amir Bourouh (Wigan Warriors and England Academy)

January 6: Liam Hood (Leigh Centurions & Scotland), Corey Makelim (Sheffield Eagles & USA) 

January 7: Peter Glynn (Former England International), Derrell Olpherts (Castleford Tigers), Theerapol Ritson (Barrow Raiders), Steve Scholey (Workington Town)