Coral Challenge Cup Final and AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final

The RFL today confirm the postponement of the Coral Challenge Cup Final and AB Sundecks 1895 Cup Final, which had been scheduled for July 18 at Wembley Stadium connected by EE.

The intention remains for the finals to be played later in the year – contingent on the public health situation and Government advice.

Supporters who have bought tickets for the finals are advised that they will be valid for any rearranged date – with further information available here

The Coral Challenge Cup had reached the Sixth Round stage before Rugby League activity was suspended in March, while the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup had yet to begin.

All ticket-holders for the triple header of the Coral Challenge Cup Semi Finals and Coral Women’s Challenge Cup Final, which had been due to be played at the University of Bolton Stadium on June 6, have already been informed that event has been postponed.

In Memory Of Andrew Collier – With Acknowledgement From The Collier Family

Ken Collier and family would like to extend their sincere gratitude and heartfelt thanks for all the kind thoughts, words, cards and gestures of condolence which have been received following Andrew’s loss.

The number of people lining the route and paying their respects for Andrew’s funeral service on Monday 11th May 2020 was moving and a memorable source of comfort.  

Special thanks to Carol, Andrew’s wife, for making all the arrangements under such difficult and unprecedented circumstances.

Thanks also to Leigh Golf Club and Leigh Centurions for their tributes and to Haydock Funeral services and Howe Bridge Crematorium.

In Memory Of Andrew Collier:

Everyone at Leigh Centurions has been saddened to learn of the death of former player Andrew Collier at the age of 53.

Mr Collier earned #HN1026 after joining the Club during the summer of 1991 from Wigan and made 14 appearances in a memorable promotion season to the first division under Kevin Ashcroft.

In the first season of an eight-team second division when Leigh played Carlisle, London Crusaders, Oldham, Rochdale Hornets, Ryedale York, Sheffield Eagles and Workington Town each four times, Leigh won 21 out of 28 league games as Ashcroft skilfully built a strong side on limited financial resources.

A hard-working and industrious player, popular with his fellow team-mates, Andrew Collier made his Leigh debut in a 26-10 win against Ryedale York at Hilton Park which opened the campaign when David Ruane (2), Paul Topping (2) and his namesake, Leigh-born Andy Collier scored tries in front of a jubilant crowd of 3,091.

There had been serious doubts over the future of Hilton Park and whether the club would start the season due to financial problems, finally ended when Tony Cottrell headed a rescue bid, successfully negotiating a deal with the administrator that was handling the club’s affairs, and becoming player-chairman.

That win over Ryedale-York was the catalyst for the most enjoyable of seasons for many long-standing Leigh supporters and Andrew Collier played a big part in the success.

Ashcroft recruited talented local players from the town’s amateur ranks, including John Costello, Gary Pendlebury, Tommy Hayes and Mark Dainty alongside more seasoned professionals and created a wonderful team spirit that sustained the team through an arduous and testing campaign.

Club captain Paul Topping scored 16 tries, David Hill 15 and Jason Donohue, who won GB Under 21s honours during the season was also in double figures with 11 tries. John Woods kicked 74 goals and scored eight tries.

Simon Booth, Russ Bridge, Ian Jeffrey, brothers Andy and David Ruane and Mark Sheals were other mainstays as Tongan born Lee Hansen made his bow in English rugby league.

Having two players named Andrew Collier in the squad created some confusion and so the pair were distinguished by being named Andrew Collier Wigan and Andy Collier Leigh.

Paying tribute to his old team mate on social media the latter wrote: “My thoughts go to my friend and namesake’s family at this sad time. Andy Collier was hard as nails on the pitch and a gentleman and entertainer off it. It was pleasure to know him. RIP pal.”

In a two-year stint with the Club, Andrew Collier made a total of 20 appearances, scoring two tries playing either at loose forward or second row. In 2019, Mr Collier married his long-term partner of six-and-a-half years Carol and together they ran the First & Last Pub in Leigh on The Avenue. He will be much missed by his family, friends and former team-mates. Sincere condolences from everyone at Leigh Centurions.

(Photo) Andrew Collier in the Leigh squad, Nov 1991 at club sponsors Lifting Gear Hire (Rugby Leaguer)

Betfred Championship and League 1 – Update – May 13th 2020

Following a remote meeting of the RFL and Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs this afternoon (Wednesday), two working groups have been set up to consider the issues surrounding the possible resumption of the sport at this level.

One of the groups will consider the costs and other logistics surrounding matches taking place behind closed doors for broadcast. The Government’s Covid-19 Recovery Strategy published earlier this week clarified that they would permit “cultural and sporting events to take place behind closed-doors for broadcast, while avoiding the risk of large-scale social contact” to begin “no earlier than Monday 1 June.”

The other group will consider possible revenue opportunities to offset some of those costs.

Both will be chaired by the RFL, and convened as soon as possible.

The decision to form the working groups followed updates from the RFL to clubs on the Government funding secured for the sport earlier this month, and on the extension of the Coronavirus Jobs Retention Scheme; and a detailed summary of the latest discussions between UK Sport and medical officers relating to the resumption of training and competition.

Ralph Rimmer, the RFL Chief Executive, said: “The meeting gave us the chance to update the clubs, and also for the clubs to share their views with us.

“Playing matches behind closed doors, and before that the return to training that would be necessary, is clearly a complex option for all levels of our sport – and any decisions will have an obvious implication on the structure of the competitions, and relationships between our different competitions. Decisions regarding promotion and relegation will be made by the RFL Board.

“Setting up these working groups will give the Betfred Championship and League 1 clubs the opportunities to address those considerations further. We also maintain regular dialogue with players and their representatives, and our broadcast and other commercial partners, as we remain focused on finding the best solution for the good of the sport.”

Leigh Centurions’ £10,000 Boost For Borough’s Covid-19 Response

Leigh Centurions have donated £10,000 to help Wigan Borough’s COVID-19 response efforts.

The Club handed over £10,000 to the Leigh hub, which will go towards supplying food and other essential items. Owner Derek Beaumont said: “The club is dependent on the community and I have always said we are just custodians of the club helping to steer it so it’s important to ensure we help those most in need during these times.

“I’m delighted the club has made this pledge for a fantastic support system in Leigh’s community hub. The real champions are the staff and volunteers that are engaging with the public and transforming the money into something which makes a huge difference to people.”

The Council has received many contributions in recent weeks as the community rallies together to help those in need.

The seven community hubs and central logistics hub based at Armed Forces HQ are central to the council’s response to COVID-19, working in partnership with local groups and volunteers, delivering food parcels and helping to connect residents with support services.

The hubs have been boosted by donations throughout and local businesses have been keen to provide crates of food, drink and tinned goods to support residents in need.

There have been many examples of firms offering support either to the community hubs, volunteers or wider public services across the borough.

Leader of Wigan Council, Coun David Molyneux, said the wide-ranging contributions have been a significant help to the borough’s community hubs and wider public services.

The cash donation from Leigh Centurions was has handed over to the Leigh hub this week by General Manager Neil Jukes.

Coun Molyneux added: “As with the volunteer effort across the borough, it is humbling to see so many people across many sectors offer time and support.

“Our response to COVID-19 is very much a team effort so let’s continue to Be Kind and follow the Stay Home, Save Lives advice. The response we have seen from all sections of the community across the borough has been fantastic and we continue to be extremely grateful to every single business and organisation that has offered help in any way they can.”

Government Backing For Rugby League in Coronavirus Crisis

The RFL has secured significant Government support to help the sport and its clubs through the unprecedented financial challenges caused by the current public health emergency.

The Government has announced an emergency loan of £16 million to be administered by the RFL, in partnership with Sport England and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

In their announcement, DCMS highlighted Rugby League’s importance to the communities in which it is established, and the boost that will be provided to the sport and the North by staging three World Cups – Men’s, Women’s and Wheelchair – in the autumn of 2021. The Government’s manifesto included a commitment to delivering a successful tournament, with significant financial support already provided.

Oliver Dowden, the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said:

“This is a massive shot in the arm to secure the survival of Rugby League.

“We recognise that many RFL clubs operate on very tight financial margins. Without their ability to stage matches with spectators and despite the Government’s extensive economic package, the professional game has come very close to collapsing.

“From my first sports visit as Secretary of State to Leigh Centurions, I could see how important these clubs are to the communities they serve. They are the beating heart of their towns and cities, and their impact goes far beyond what happens on the pitch.

“Sports across the board are facing unprecedented pressures, and we are supporting them through wider Government measures. In this case we are intervening as an exception, not to save an individual business or organisation, but to protect an entire sport, the community it supports, the World Cup held here next year and its legacy for generations to come.”

Steve Barclay, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“Rugby League is a sport that makes a significant social impact in the communities it serves, which is even more important now as we respond to the economic pressures resulting from Covid-19.

“The timing of the Rugby League World Cup next year will also be a fantastic opportunity to build on the sport’s strong track record within these communities, and is an opportunity that this Government’s support will ensure is delivered.”

Ralph Rimmer, Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, said:

“The RFL is grateful to the Government for understanding and acting on the case for the whole sport.

“In these very tough times for the country and huge demands on Government, this is confirmation of why Rugby League is important – our USP – the sport’s significant social impact in Northern communities in particular.

“Rugby League is not a wealthy sport but is rich in the things that matter most – outstanding sporting and life chances in often disadvantaged communities. The effects of lockdown at the start of our season genuinely threatened the survival of our clubs at all levels and their ability to continue delivering those positive social and economic impacts.

“This support has been achieved as a result of the whole sport working together; a credit to all the clubs, and to the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Rugby League and many other supporters of our sport. It enables the sport to survive, to reshape and to be ready to restart in this our 125th year. And to look to a home World Cup next year and a legacy for our communities.

“Watching and playing sport together, including Rugby League, has a role to play in the nation’s recovery. We are part of that national sporting landscape. In the meantime, we continue to work at the heart of our communities, helping wherever we can.”

All Betfred Super League, Championship and League 1 clubs based in England are eligible to apply for funding. Further details on when the fund will open and how clubs can apply will be announced by the RFL in due course.

The Home Of Footballers – A History Of Runcorn Northern Union Club – By Mike Latham

There are not many rugby league clubs who can boast their Chairman is also an author but that’s the case at Leigh Centurions.

Our Chairman Mike Latham has written numerous books about rugby league and several about Leigh but his latest focuses on Runcorn, one of the founder members of the Northern Union.

Runcorn was a hotbed of rugby in the late Victorian era, the town’s club a proud founder member in 1895 of the Northern Union – the breakaway game that became known as Rugby League.

Yet that great rugby tradition was ended by the First World War, with devastating effects for many Runcornians, including members of the rugby club, who served and lost their lives.

Runcorn nurtured ten international rugby players in total, all but one born within a few hundred yards of the Irwell Lane ground.

Respected sports writer and historian Michael Latham recreates those far-off days when the oval ball dominated and the town’s heroes included Harry Speakman, a member of the first rugby tourists to Australia, Sam Houghton, Jimmy Butterworth, Jimmy Jolley and Dick Padbury, among just a few in a gallery of colourful characters, the rugby league superstars of their day.

With a detailed biographical and records section to complement the deeply researched narrative, this is one of the most comprehensive histories ever written about the Northern Union and contains around three hundred photographs.

Harry Price was once a promising Runcorn player, snapped up by Wigan in 1906, where he became a highly regarded and popular player and captain. The report announcing his signing in the Wigan newspaper had a simple, approving testimonial: “Price was born in Runcorn, the home of footballers.” Hence the book’s title.

You can order the book by clicking the link below.