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Rugby Football League

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Title: Rugby Football League  
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Subject: Great Britain national rugby league team, England national rugby league team, Challenge Cup, History of rugby league, Wales Rugby League
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Rugby Football League

Rugby Football League
Rugby Football League logo
Founded 29th August 1895
Formerly named Northern Rugby Football Union, Northern Rugby Football League
RLIF affiliation 1948
RLEF affiliation 2003 (Full member)[1]
Responsibility England
Headquarters Red Hall, Red Hall Lane, Leeds, England
Key people Brian Barwick[2] (Chair)
Nigel Wood (Chief Executive)
Competitions Super League
Challenge Cup
Championship 1
Championship Cup
Rugby League Conference
As of 30 June 2009

The Rugby Football League (RFL) is the governing body for professional Super League, the Championship and Championship 1.

Based at Red Hall in Leeds, it administers the England national rugby league team, the Challenge Cup, Super League and the Rugby League Championships. The social and junior game is administered in association with the British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA). The Rugby Football League is a member of the Rugby League European Federation and as a senior Full Member has a combined veto power over the Council with France. The RFL is part of the Community Board, which also has representatives from BARLA, Combined Services, English Schools Rugby League and Student Rugby League.

Established as the Northern Rugby Football Union (often shortened to Northern Union) in August 1895 by representatives of twenty-one Australian Rugby Football League and New Zealand Rugby Football League. Eventually the "Northern" was dropped from its name at the beginning of the 1980s.

The turnover of the RFL was reported as £27 M in 2011.[5][6]


On Tuesday 27 August 1895, as a result of an emergency meeting in Manchester, prominent Lancashire rugby clubs Broughton Rangers, Leigh, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, St Helens, Tyldesley, Warrington, Widnes and Wigan declared that they would support their Yorkshire colleagues in their proposal to form a Northern Union.

Two days later, on Thursday 29 August 1895, representatives of 21 clubs met in the Northern Union or NU). Twenty clubs agreed to resign from the Rugby Football Union, but Dewsbury felt unable to comply with the decision. The Cheshire club, Stockport, had telegraphed the meeting requesting admission to the new organisation and was duly accepted with a second Cheshire club, Runcorn, admitted at the next meeting.

The 22 clubs and their years of foundation were:
The Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup 1896

In 1908 the Northern Union's brand of rugby was taken up in Australia and New Zealand. The Union hosted touring sides from both countries before assembling a Great Britain representative team for a 1910 tour of Australia and New Zealand. These nations, particularly Australia, would go on to excel in the sport and gain significant influence over it over the following century.

The British Amateur Rugby League Association (BARLA) was created in 1973 in Huddersfield by a group of enthusiasts concerned about the dramatic disappearance of many amateur leagues and clubs. Fewer than 150 amateur teams remained with a mere 30 youth rugby league teams. The 'breakaway' from the RFL was acrimonious and was strongly contested, with a vote 29-1 against recognising BARLA. Thanks to Tom Mitchell, this changed to a unanimous vote of approval for BARLA within 12 months.

Maurice Lindsay became the Chief Executive of the RFL in 1992, proposing the Super League, which replaced Championship as the sport's premier league competition from 1996 onwards. Lindsay returned to Wigan in 1999 for his second stint at the club after Sir Rodney Walker, then chairman of the RFL, sacked him after a campaign to unseat him failed.[7]

The RFL accumulated losses of £1.9 million at the end of 2001, shortly before a major restructuring of the governing body and the appointment of Richard Lewis as executive chairman in May 2002.[8] Within a year of joining the RFL, he oversaw reunification with BARLA after nearly 30 years of division.[9] Lewis left in 2012 to become Chief Executive of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club.[10] The RFL net value has been positive every year since 2004, being £1.7M in 2011.[5]

In 2011 a major change to the game was agreed, changing from a winter to a summer game, starting in 2012 with a playing season from March to November, aligning with the Super League, which has played this way since 1996. The regional leagues may include winter competitions in addition.[5]

In 2012, the Rugby Football League were awarded the [12]


Red Hall, RFL HQ

The RFL is based at Red Hall in Leeds, a Grade II listed brick building dating from 1642.[13][14] It moved there in 1995 from 180 Chapeltown Road, Leeds, where it had been since 1922.[14]

The board

The RFL board consists of the following:[5][10]

Young People's Advisory Panel

The RFL launched the Young People's Advisory Panel in 2010, a group consisting of young people aged 16–25 from across England. The national panel meet at least three times a year at the RFL's Red Hall headquarters to discuss and debate the following:

  • Changes in the structure of youth rugby;
  • Communications between young rugby league enthusiasts and the RFL;
  • RFL policies which impact on young people.

Two nominated members will also sit on the youth & junior forum, a key device used to advance youth rugby league.[15][16]

Match officials

All Super League matches are governed by the laws set out by the RFL; these laws are enforced by match officials. Former Hull player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp is the current Head of the Match Officials Department of the RFL. He assumed this role following Stuart Cummings' departure in March 2013 having previously held the role of Match Officials Coach & Technical Director.

Coaching & performance staff

  • Jon Sharp – Head of the Match Officials Department
  • Steve Ganson – Match Officials Coach & Technical Director
  • Ian Smith – Match Officials Coach

Full time match officials

Country Name Referee Touch Judge First Super League Game Date Venue
Phil Bentham Wakefield Trinity v Hull 11/09/2005 Belle Vue
James Child Wakefield Trinity v Catalans Dragons 15/03/2009 Belle Vue
Robert Hicks Leeds v Crusaders RL 20/06/2010 Headingley
Tim Roby Wakefield Trinity v Harlequins RL 10/04/2011 Belle Vue
Richard Silverwood Halifax v Salford 06/05/2001 The Shay
Ben Thaler London Broncos v Leigh 29/05/2005 Griffin Park

Cadet match officials

Cadets primarily referee in the Kingstone Press Championship and the Kingstone Press Championship 1 and Touch Judge in the First Utility Super League. There are opportunities for cadets to referee in the First Utility Super League when games become available.

Part time match officials

Part-time match officials referee in the Kingstone Press Championship and the Kingstone Press Championship 1. Some also touch judge in the First Utility Super League.

(*) Denotes match officials who also touch judge in the First Utility Super League.

Past Presidents of the RFL

Entrance hall to the Headquarters building

See also


  1. ^ RLEF. "Overview". RLEF. Retrieved 2009-06-30. 
  2. ^ a b "RFL appoints ex-FA boss Brian Barwick as chairman". BBC Sport. 30 January 2013. Retrieved 30 January 2013. 
  3. ^ "RLIF Confederations". Retrieved 27 August 2011. 
  4. ^ "The History Of Rugby League". Rugby League Information. Retrieved 2 January 2014. 
  5. ^ a b c d 2011 RFL Annual Report
  6. ^ BBC Sport - Rugby Football League announces record turnover of £29m. (2012-07-18). Retrieved on 2013-08-20.
  7. ^ "League's cease-fire is over as superpowers prepare for War". Dave Hadfield, The Independent. 1998-01-29. Retrieved 2007-08-30. 
  8. ^ [1]
  9. ^ "Multi-tasking Lewis a southerner happy to work at northern union". The Guardian. 1 June 2007. 
  10. ^ a b The board of directors (retrieved 23 Dec 2012)
  11. ^ [2]
  12. ^ Wilson, Andy (12 January 2011). "RFL is named among top 100 employers in Stonewall Index". The Guardian. 
  13. ^ British Listed Buildings
  14. ^ a b RFL: The History of Red Hall (Sep 2012)
  15. ^ "Midlands Rugby League". Midlands Rugby League. 2010-07-12. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  16. ^ "London Broncos Rugby League". 2011-10-20. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  17. ^ Irving, A. "Ralph handles league's hot seats". News & Star, 01 March 2007. Retrieved 7 September 2011. 

External links

  • Rugby Football League official website
  • The Rugby Football League's (RFL) Operational rules
  • engage Super League
  • Rugby Football League Archive, 1898-2002
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