Latest news:

A brief history of the great rugby club

By apb (28/10/2002)
April 28 2004

Leeds Rugby

Rugby in Leeds has a long and noble heritage – in both version of the game. In 1864, an advert in the Leeds Mercury encouraged interested people to come on down to Woodhouse Moor for a few evenings a week to try out the sport. The 500 members that answered that initial advert were pivotal in forming the Leeds St John’s club, which – after several name changes – has now become “Leeds Rhinos”.

The West Entrance to Headingley Stadium - The Len Hutton Gates
In 1888 the leading townspeople and sportsmen of the city of Leeds purchased a section of the Cardigan Estates and built what has become the finest joint Cricket and Rugby stadium in the country – Headingley Stadium.

The Leeds club was one of the founder members of the breakaway “Northern Union” (later to become the Rugby Football League) in 1895, and in 1903 gained promotion to the top divison of the RFL. The club – now known as Leeds Rhinos – has been in the top divison of English Rugby League ever since.

The North Stand
However the accident of geography that formed the Northern Union did not cover every rugby playing sportsman in the West Yorkshire area. Throughout the 100 years of Rugby League dominance in the North, many clubs have continued to hold to the original governing body – the Rugby Football Union. Teams such as Wakefield, Otley, Headingley, and Roundhay, have a long and proud history of their own; indeed, the Headingley club were formed at the same time as Leeds St John’s!

The real sea change in the history of Rugby Union in Leeds did not take place until 1991, with the historic (and sometimes acrimonious) merger between Headingley and Roundhay, to form Leeds RUFC. Seven years later Leeds RUFC became the Union half of the world’s first dual code rugby club, and were later to be named the Leeds Tykes. After a disappointing start, the Tykes are now established in their second season in the top flight of English Rugby Union - the Zurich Premiership, and together with the Leeds Rhinos as the other half of the cross-code partnership, are ably living up to the holding company’s tag line – “Yorkshire’s Premier Rugby Club”.

So, you've had a tantalising glimpse of the city, and you know about the rugby club. You probably want to know how to get here?

View a Printer Friendly version of this Story.

Bookmark or share this story with: