Leeds Rhinos, or informally Leeds or Rhinos, are an English professional rugby league football club based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. They are the current European and World champions. Leeds introduced the Rhinos nickname and logo in 1997. They are also one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league teams.
The club's home is the 22,250-seater Headingley Carnegie Stadium, which is in the suburb of Headingley, north-west Leeds, where they have played since 1890. Leeds are one of the oldest clubs in the world and are owned by the same company that also run the Leeds Carnegie rugby union team. The club are the joint-second most successful rugby league team in England (along with St Helens) behind Wigan Warriors, as judged by the number of Challenge Cups won.
On 4th October 2008, Rhinos won the Super League Grand Final against St Helens at Old Trafford. The score was 24-16.
The Rhinos are the best-supported rugby team of either code throughout Great Britain.
Leeds St John's were formed in 1870 and were originally known as the "Old Blue and Ambers". They played at the Militia Barracks from 1870 to 1888 before moving to Cardigan Fields, near Headingley, Leeds. Membership was originally confined to the church classes but was soon expanded. By 1887 St John's had reached their first cup final, the Yorkshire Cup. They lost to Wakefield Trinity.
In 1888 the Cardigan Estate was sold at auction and Lot 17a was purchased by a group of Leeds citizens, who intended to form the city's leading sports club. Lot 17a became what is now Headingley Stadium.
Leeds St John's played their final season under that name in 1889-90, before becoming the football section of Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Co Ltd the following season. With Headingley still being completed, Leeds' first game was staged at Cardigan Fields, the home side defeating Otley. The first game at Headingley was played on September 20, 1890, when Manningham were beaten by one try and one dropped goal to nil.
In 1892 some 27,654 spectators - a then record in British rugby - attended the third round showdown between Leeds and Halifax at Headingley.
Leeds were founder members of the Northern Union when it broke away from the Rugby Football Union in 1895. Leeds' debut in the Northern Union was a 6-3 success at Leigh on September 7, 1895, the inaugural day of the new competition.
Leeds City FC joined soccer's Second Division in 1905-06, and finished sixth out of 20 clubs in their first season. Rugby's monopoly with the locals seemed to have been broken, with Leeds Rugby League's average gate numbers falling by nearly 50% in that first League season.
The Headingley club reached the Championship final for the first time in 1915, but were beaten 35-2 by Huddersfield.
On Saturday 27th October 1934, Leeds and Wakefield Trinity met in the final of the Yorkshire Cup at Crown Flatt, Dewsbury. The match ended in a 5-5 draw. Four days later the two clubs drew again, with Leeds eventually lifting the trophy after a second replay, the only occasion it took three attempts to settle a Yorkshire Cup Final. A total of 52,402 spectators watched the three games.
In 1937, Leeds paid the stand-off Vic Hey a then-record £1,400 signing-on fee to bring him away from Australia, Vic was seen as a major loss to the Australian game and this contributed to the RFL imposing a ban on international transfers which lasted until 1940.
In 1938, Leeds played Swinton in the Rugby League Championship semi-final. Leeds won the match 5 points to 2 to set up a history making all-Leeds clash with neighbours Hunslet in the final. The match was played at the Elland Road football ground, to accommodate a huge demand from the city’s rugby league supporters. Over 54,000 people watched the game, a then record for a match in England, Hunslet triumphed 8-2 to take the title.
Leeds won the Challenge Cup in 1941 and 1942.
Following the Second World War the Leeds club struggled to make a serious impact in rugby league despite having a financial advantage over the majority of its competitors.
It wasn’t until the late fifties, when in 1957 the club secured its first post-war Challenge Cup victory, that the young side being built began to show signs of what was to come. Joe Warham came to Leeds as coach in 1958 and a Yorkshire Cup triumph followed, but the side still lacked enough quality to compete at the top of the Lancashire section of the competition in which it was then playing.
However The Loiners (as they were then nicknamed) were to establish themselves as a dominant force by the end of the coming decade. In 1960 Dai Prosser was appointed to assist Joe Warham with the coaching duties and the club signed a new back three of Jack Fairbank, Bryan Shaw and Dennis Goodwin to strengthen the forward pack. The recruitment paid off: Leeds were crowned Champions for the first time in 1961 with Lewis Jones leading them to a 25-10 victory over Warrington in the Championship Final at Odsal Stadium, Bradford.
In the late 60's, under the guidance of Roy Francis, Leeds repeatedly finished top of the league. They contested perhaps the most memorable of all Wembley occasions, the "watersplash final" of 1968, which was played despite a downpour that saturated the pitch. It produced the most dramatic of finishes, when Lance Todd trophy winner Don Fox had the easiest of conversions to win it for Wakefield Trinity, but missed it to leave Leeds 11-10 winners.
Francis then quit the club to take up a coaching position in Australia, and Joe Warham again took charge as coach, on an interim basis, midway through the 1969 campaign. The Championship trophy duly returned to Headingley for the second time after a tough final against Castleford at Odsal Stadium.
In 1970 Leeds returned to the Championship final, and Odsal, but lost to St Helens despite having taken an early lead. Tables were turned in December when the same teams met in the final of the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, Leeds emerging victorious this time.
Coached by Rocky Turner, Leeds returned to Wembley in 1971 and 1972 but lost out both times - in 1971 losing 24-7 to rank outsiders Leigh and suffering the indignity of captain Syd Hynes being the first man to 'take an early bath' at Wembley. A third championship, in 1972, provided consolation.
Eric Ashton (former Wigan and Great Britain centre) coached Leeds for the 1973-74 season.
Leeds continued to collect silverware: they won the Regal Trphy in 1973 and the Premiership (the then-current form of the championship playoff) in 1975. They held the Yorkshire Cup 7 times between 1969 and 1980.
In the 1976-77 season, the Salford versus Leeds match was abandoned after 38 minutes when Chris Sanderson of Leeds suffered a fatal injury. Leeds were ahead 5-2, but the game was declared null and void and not replayed. The club recovered to win the Challenge Cup at the end of that season. They repeated that success in 1978, in a classic final against St Helens at Wembley Stadium with Leeds completing what was then a record comeback. Former captain Syd Hynes was coach on both occasions.
They followed up with another Premiership win, in 1979.
However these victories were the 'last hurrah' of the great sixties and seventies sides and a barren spell followed in the eighties. Leeds' only triumphs were the 1984 John Player Trophy (beating Widnes) and the 1988 Yorkshire Cup (beating Castleford). Leeds were beaten finalists in the John Player Trophy four times in the eighties and nineties.
Leeds eventually hauled themselves back to Wembley for a Challenge Cup final appearance in 1994 against Wigan. The game was memorable for a length of the field try by Martin Offiah, considered by many to be one the greatest tries ever scored, which clinched the game for Wigan. Leeds returned to Wembley a year later, again to face Wigan again, but were beaten more easily.
1996 marked the beginning of summer rugby and major transition for the renamed Leeds Rhinos. Dean Bell took over as head coach following his retirement as a player. Leeds experienced great financial difficulty and even flirted with relegation. The turnaround was quick, however, and in 1998 the Rhinos once again found their way to a major final, facing Wigan (again!) in the inaugural Grand Final, at Old Trafford, Manchester. The Rhinos were edged out 10-4 in a tense and very evenly matched game.
Iestyn Harris joined Leeds for a record breaking £350,000 transfer in 1997. He was appointed captain in his first full season at the age of only 21. In 1999 Leeds finally landed their first silverware in a decade, and their first Challenge Cup for over 20 years, with a convincing 52-16 win over London at Wembley. In 2000, after a nightmare opening to the season, Leeds put themselves in a position to defend this trophy when they met Yorkshire rivals Bradford at Murrayfield, Edinburgh. It was not to be and after a poor start from the Rhinos the Bulls edged them out by 6 points.
Once again a period of transition loomed for Leeds, with many youngsters emerging and taking the place of experienced first team members. Daryl Powell became coach of the Leeds Rhinos after he retired from playing in 2001.
In 2003 the Rhinos returned to the Challenge Cup final, again to face Bradford, this time at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Leeds once again lost out in a very tense game, losing 22-20 in front of 71,212 fans. The game was memorable for the decision by the Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield to spurn the opportunity of a 2-point penalty kick to level up the game with just minutes left.
In 2003 the Rhinos appointed Tony Smith as Head Coach.
In 2004 the Rhinos finally shed the 'bridesmaid' tag in Super League. They picked up their first championship title in 32 years with a win over Bradford Bulls 16-8 in the Grand Final at Old Trafford in front of a sell-out crowd. They followed this by winning the World Club Challenge beating Australian side Canterbury Bulldogs 39-32 in front of 37,028 spectators at Elland Road, Leeds.
This success was not to be repeated in 2005: the Rhinos lost their third Challenge Cup final in 6 years,shaded by resurgent Yorkshire rivals Hull 24-25. The Rhinos then lost the Grand Final the same season, once again thwarted by arch rivals Bradford Bulls, 15-6. It was the 7th final the Rhinos had lost in 10 years.
2006 was disappointing. The Rhinos finished third in the Super League XI table, but lost in their first play-off game against Warrington Wolves. They also suffered a disappointing defeat to Huddersfield Giants in the semi finals of the Challenge Cup.
In 2007 Leeds finished 2nd after the 27 regular rounds, and lost 10-8 at St Helens in the grand final eliminator in what many of the players described as the most brutal and tough game of their careers. Leeds then produced a brilliant performance at home to beat a resurgent Wigan side 36-6, thus reaching the grand final. Leeds triumphed in the final in spectacular circumstances, beating St Helens 33-6 in front of over 71,000 spectators. Leeds' points included 12 from Kevin Sinfield(meaning he had scored in every match this season). Rob Burrow was named man of the match winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy.
Tony Smith, who was leaving to coach Great Britain. departed on a euphoric note as arguably the greatest coach in the club's history (with two Grand Finals and a world challenge title).
In the warm-up to the 2008 season Leeds Rhinos played a match in the USA (against South Sydney Rabbitohs) for the first time. The game marked the first international Rugby League match held in the USA. The match was played on January 26 2008 at Hodges Stadium - University of North Florida with the Leeds Rhinos overcoming South Sydney 26 - 24. Jacksonville's very own American National Rugby League team the Jacksonville Axemen hosted the teams as part of the Australia Day festivities. For more information visit the Australia Day Challenge web site.
Soon afterwards Leeds beat Melbourne Storm 11–4 at Elland Road in the 2008 World Club Challenge, earning them bragging rights as the best club team in the world. A Scott Donald try combined with a drop goal by Kevin Sinfield secured the monumentous win in front of a crowd of 33,204.
On 4th October 2008 Leeds retained their Super League crown by defeating St. Helens 24-16 in a thrilling contest. Lee Smith and Ryan Hall helped Leeds to a 12-6 lead at half time. Danny McGuire scored twice after the break and Kevin Sinfield successfully converting all four tries. The team became the first in Leeds RLFC history to win consecutive titles.
Leeds currently play at Headingley Carnegie Rugby Stadium. The ground now has a capacity of 22,250 including some seating and some standing areas. The new Carnegie stand (pictured) was opened in 2006. The club are currently looking at refurbishing the South Stand and are hoping to rebuild the North Stand, however being as it is double sided they require the support of Yorkshire Cricket first as any redevelopment would have to take place on both sides.
Ronnie The Rhino is the Leeds Rhinos mascot. He attempts to get the crowd going pre-match, and at half-time he normally gets children involved by playing some sort of game. The current "Ronnie the Rhino" is Steve Beck. Beck often drives to perform Ronnie already in the "Ronnie Suit", however this has caused controversy due to the high number of near-misses he has on the road. Beck said that although his vision is seriously impaired by the suit, he feels it is an acceptable risk as he does not want the children to stop believing in the magic of Ronnie which he feels would happen if he turned up and they saw him get into the suit.
|13||Kevin Sinfield (C)||Loose-Forward||26||3||112||1||237|
|21||Jordan Tansey||Scrum Half||18||7||0||0||28|
|25||Danny Allan||Loose Forward||2||0||0||0||0|
|28||Simon Worrall||Second Row||12||1||0||0||4|
|34||Ben Jones-Bishop||Full Back||2||0||0||0||0|
|35||Eric Anselme||Second Row||4||2||0||0||8|
|Player||Previous Club||Years Signed||Until the End of|
|Luke Burgess||Doncaster RLFC||Resigned|
|Danny Williams||Castleford Tigers||Resigned|
|Eric Anselme||Albi||Loan (4 Months)|
|Player||Previous Club||Years Signed||Until the End of|
|Danny Buderus||Newcastle Knights||Rest of Career|
|Greg Eastwood||Brisbane Broncos||3 Years|
|Player||Future Club||Years Signed||Until the End of|
|Nick Scruton||Bradford Bulls||3 Years|
|Clinton Toopi||New Zealand||Released|
|Ben Kaye||Harlequins Rugby League|
|Jordan Tansey||Sydney Roosters||2 Year Loan|
2008 Engage Super League
|Rd||Home Team||Score||Away Team||Result (W/D/L)||Attendance|
|F||Leeds Rhinos||18 – 26||Wakefield Trinity Wildcats||L||10,143|
|F||Hunslet Hawks||6 – 50||Leeds Rhinos||W|
|F||Featherstone Rovers||20 – 42||Leeds Rhinos||W|
|F||Leeds Rhinos||50 – 4||Oldham||W|
|F||Leeds Rhinos||26 – 24||South Sydney Rabbitohs||W||12,500|
|4*||Leeds Rhinos||20 – 12||Hull KR||W||18,467|
|1||Huddersfield Giants||10 – 30||Leeds Rhinos||W||15,620|
|2||Wakefield Trinity Wildcats||8 – 44||Leeds Rhinos||W||9,863|
|3||Leeds Rhinos||34 – 6||Catalans Dragons||W||14,083|
|WCC||Leeds Rhinos||11 – 4||Melbourne Storm||W||33,204|
|5||Castleford Tigers||38 – 20||Leeds Rhinos||L||9,459|
|6||Leeds Rhinos||48 – 0||Harlequins||W||14,557|
|7||Leeds Rhinos||44 – 2||Bradford Bulls||W||19,296|
|8||Hull FC||4 – 30||Leeds Rhinos||W||14,113|
|9||St Helens||10 – 14||Leeds Rhinos||W||11,188|
|10||Leeds Rhinos||10 – 14||Wigan Warriors||L||18,769|
|11||Leeds Rhinos||32 – 12||Warrington Wolves||W||16,327|
|CCC4||Leeds Rhinos||38 – 16||Celtic Crusaders||W||5,087|
|12||Hull KR||22 – 36||Leeds Rhinos||W||9,391|
|13**||Bradford Bulls||26 – 40||Leeds Rhinos||W||30,628|
|CCC5||Harlequins RL||26 – 36||Leeds Rhinos||W||2,300|
|14||Leeds Rhinos||58 – 12||Wakefield Trinity Wildcats||W||17,647|
|15||Bradford Bulls||14 – 30||Leeds Rhinos||W||14,013|
|CCCQF||Leeds Rhinos||23 – 16||Wigan Warriors||W||10,129|
|16||Leeds Rhinos||38 – 22||Hull FC||W||16,886|
|17||Harlequins RL||28 – 24||Leeds Rhinos||L||3,769|
|18||Leeds Rhinos||12 – 26||St Helens||L||18,303|
|19||Leeds Rhinos||18 – 12||Castleford Tigers||W||17,619|
|20||Wigan Warriors||23 – 22||Leeds Rhinos||L||14,911|
|21||Leeds Rhinos||46 – 8||Huddersfield Giants||W||14,739|
|22||Catalans Dragons||24 – 37||Leeds Rhinos||W||9,880|
|CCCSF***||Leeds Rhinos||16 – 26||St Helens||L|
|23||Warrington Wolves||22 – 12||Leeds Rhinos||L||9,150|
|24||Leeds Rhinos||28 – 18||Bradford Bulls||W||17,508|
|25||Leeds Rhinos||54 – 12||Castleford Tigers||W||17,354|
|26||Wigan Warriors||16 – 52||Leeds Rhinos||W||14,778|
|27||Wakefield Trinity Wildcats||12 – 30||Leeds Rhinos||W||6,448|
|ESL PO2||St Helens||30 – 10||Leeds Rhinos||L||11,407|
|ESL PO3||Leeds Rhinos||18 – 14||Wigan Warriors||W||13,112|
|ESLGF****||St Helens||16 – 24||Leeds Rhinos||W||68,810|
*Round 4 played before round one to accommodate World Club Challenge on Round 4 weekend
|Brian McClennan||Head Coach|
|Francis Cummins||Assistant Coach|
|Willie Poching||Assistant Coach|
|Aleks Gross||Match Analyst|
|Jason Davidson||Head Conditioner|
|Meirion Jones||Head Physiotherapist|