The England national rugby league team represent England in international rugby league football tournaments. The team has now seen a revival, having largely formed from the Great Britain team, who also represented Wales, Scotland and Ireland. The team is run under the auspices of the Rugby Football League. From 2008 the team will participate in all World Cups, Tri-Nations, and test matches.
The team dates back to 1904 when they played against a mixture of Welsh and Scottish players in Wigan. Since then, and right up until the 1950s, they regularly toured Australia and New Zealand and played both home and away matches against neighbours Wales and France. But when it was decided that Great Britain would tour the Southern Hemisphere instead of England, France and Wales became the only regular opponents. Even then though, there are some long periods where England barely played any matches. Their first appearance in the Rugby League World Cup was in 1975, and since then they have become runners-up in 1975 and 1995, the latter tournament being held in England. In 2008 they will compete in the 2008 World Cup in Australia. For many years England also competed in the European Nations Cup and in 2006, an England 'A' team, competed for the Federation Shield. In the past England's main rivals have been Wales and France, with the rivalry stretching back to 1908 and 1934 respectively. However now England's main rivals would be Australia, New Zealand and to a lesser extent, France.
Traditionally a predominantly white kit is worn including white shorts and socks. However the shirt usually features some form of red, like red stripes, crosses or chevrons. These colours are similar to other English sporting teams and are the colours used on the national flag. In 2008 a new kit was introduced featuring a red cross on the front and red strips down the sides of the shirt, shorts and socks were white too with red strips. Also in 2008 the Rugby Football League chose to abandon the traditional English lion on the badge in favour of a much simpler shield and cross design, nevertheless the team will still be known as "The Lions".
Currently the team are ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand. But they are ranked first in Europe, ahead of France and Ireland. Australian Tony Smith, who has since taken out British citizenship, became the new head coach in 2007 and Jamie Peacock is captain, having played for England since 2000.
In 1895 twenty-one clubs split with the Rugby Football Union, citing that they wanted to play professionally, and formed the Northern Rugby Football Union. The twenty-one clubs were all from Northern England and the players were largely working class. However it was not just English players who made the switch, Scottish and Welsh players also switched allegiance to the new code, wanting payments for playing. Switching heightened in the early 20th century with more Scottish and Welsh players leaving the RFU than ever before.
The England national rugby union team had been playing international matches since 1871, but it was not until 1904, nine years after the formation of the new code, that an international rugby league match was played. At the start of 1903 season the Northern Union thought about international matches and scheduled a match for England on New Years Day 1904 in Oldham. On that day though, the ground was frosty and the match was cancelled and it was rescheduled for April.
On the 5 April 1904 England competed against a team called "Other Nationalities", who were made up of ten Welshman and two Scotsman, including George Frater, who captained the side. It was a period of experimentation for the Northern Union and each team had twelve players, not thirteen. At Central_Park_(Wigan), Wigan the ground was muddy and in poor condition, however the match went ahead. England steamed into a 3-0 lead, from a try by Warrington's Jackie Fish. This is despite Salfords Jim Lomas arriving late and causing England to start the match with eleven players. Fish missed the conversion and so the Other Nationalities were able to level the scores a little later, Welshman Thomas crashing over for a try. The conversion was missed and going into half-time the score was tied 3-3. In the second half Thomas went over for another try before Wigan's Harris sealed a 9-3 win for the Other Nationalities in the final minutes of the match. A total of 6,000 spectators turned up for the match, which was considered a poor showing despite a Broughton Rangers v Bradford cup clash being scheduled on the same day.
In 1905 a match between the two sides was played at Bradford. This time England won 26-11 even though they were losing 11-0 at half-time. Wigan's Jim Leytham scored four tries in succession, a record that still stand today. The match was played with fifteen players on each side and so was the 1906 match. Played in Wigan again, the match finished a 3-3 draw. The concept was abandoned after the 1906 match. By 1908 the game had expanded much more into Australia, New Zealand and Wales and England began playing those teams. The Other Nationalities side did return in 1921.
England played at the World Cup in 1975, which was played over several months in both hemispheres on a league basis. Normally Great Britain would represent England in the World Cup, but the RLIF wanted to capitalise on the large amount of Welsh players in the game at the time, and so England and Wales fielded separate teams. England won their first match, a 20-2 victory over France in Leeds in March. In June the Lions suffered their first defeat in just their second match of the tournament, losing 12-7 against a strong Wales side in Brisbane. A little later England managed to hold on for a draw against Australia in Sydney, the final score being 10-10. And they also picked up a point in Auckland, drawing 17-17 against New Zealand. At the end of October, after the domestic season had finished, England beat the Welsh 22-16 in Warrington and then crossed the English Channel to thrash a French side 48-2 in Bordeaux. Bradford played host the England versus New Zealand match, in which England won comfortably 27-12. At the start of November, England squeezed past Australia winning 16-13 in November at Wigan. This meant that the Kangeroos had finished on 13 points, with the Lions on 12 points. Australia were deemed champions by finishing top of the table, but because they had not beaten England a final match was quickly arranged. Australia beat England 25-0 at Leeds to clinch their fourth title.
In the 1995 World Cup England were coached by Phil Larder. The Lions got off to a flying start beating Australia 20-16 in the opening game at Wembley, then hammering Fiji and South Africa in the remaining group games to finish top of group A. This set up a semi-final game at Old Trafford against Wales. England won the tussle 25-10 to reach the World Cup final, but they lost 16-8 to Australia at Wembley Stadium.
John Kear was coach of England for the World Cup in 2000. Compared to 1995, England had little success, losing their opening game at Twickenham 22-2 against Australia. But they won their remaining two pool games against Fiji and Russia. A surprising display by Ireland in the quarter-finals, saw England scrape through to the semi-finals 26-16. England then went down to a record defeat losing 49-6 to New Zealand at Bolton and were knocked out of the tournament.
In October 1999, England met France in Carcassonne. The England team were without players involved with Great Britain, who were in Queensland for the Tri-Nations competition. The French fielded an experienced and talented squad but in the end England narrowly won 28-20.
In 2002 England toured Fiji and Tonga. Karl Harrison became England coach in July 2004 replacing John Kear. He led England to European Nations Cup success in 2004 and coached them to a win over France and a narrow defeat by New Zealand in 2005. Harrison stepped down, citing family reasons in August 2006 and was replaced by Paul Cullen. England took part in the Federation Shield in the Autumn 2006, which they won.
The badge was originally a combination of the St. George's cross, the Three Lions Coat of Arms of England and Tudor Rose. It was similar to most other English sporting badges, such as the England national football team, England national rugby union team and the English national cricket team which all promote similar attributes.
The new official logo was launched on the 6th of February 2008 on the rugby league magazine programme Boots N' All. The cross of St George is positioned across a three-dimensional shield within the design. The date "1895" is placed through the centre of the cross, symbolizing the birth of rugby league. Many people involved in the sport were consulted throughout the design process, which took a little under a year. The logo will be used for the 2008 World Cup and many future events and tournaments.
From 2008 onwards, the England team will compete in all World Cups, international tournaments and Test series. This is instead of playing as Great Britain. This will support the RFL’s strategy for the growth and development of the sport in this country and throughout Europe. The separation of Great Britain will also create an important opportunity for the Celtic Nations to drive the growth of the game in their territories.
|25 October||Papua New Guinea||Townsville||World Cup|
|2 November||Australia||Melbourne||World Cup|
|8 November||New Zealand||Newcastle||World Cup|
|28 June||France 8-56 England||Toulouse||Test|
|10 October||England 74-0 Wales||Doncaster||Gillette Fusion International|
|No||Name||Position||Club||Eng Caps||GB Caps|
|1||Paul Wellens||Full back||St Helens||13||20|
|2||Ade Gardner||Wing||St Helens||3||5|
|3||Martin Gleeson||Centre||Warrington Wolves||1||23|
|4||Keith Senior||Centre||Leeds Rhinos||6||33|
|5||Lee Smith||Wing||Leeds Rhinos||4||0|
|6||Leon Pryce||Stand off||St Helens||5||17|
|7||Rob Burrow||Half Back||Leeds Rhinos||4||5|
|8||Adrian Morley||Prop||Warrington Wolves||4||30|
|9||James Roby||Hooker||St Helens||1||5|
|10||Jamie Peacock||Prop||Leeds Rhinos||6||26|
|11||Gareth Hock||Second Row||Wigan Warriors||0||4|
|12||Gareth Ellis||Second Row||Leeds Rhinos||1||19|
|13||Kevin Sinfield||Back Row||Leeds Rhinos||5||14|
|14||James Graham||Prop||St Helens||1||2|
|15||Maurie Fa'asavalu||Prop||St Helens||1||1|
|16||Jon Wilkin||Second Row||St Helens||4||6|
|17||Danny McGuire||Half Back||Leeds Rhinos||1||9|
|18||Ben Westwood||Back Row||Warrington Wolves||1||0|
|19||Paul Sykes||Centre||Bradford Bulls||1||0|
|20||Jamie Jones-Buchanan||Second Row||Leeds Rhinos||1||2|
|21||Jamie Langley||Loose Forward||Bradford Bulls||1||2|
|22||Mark Calderwood||Wing||Wigan Warriors||7||0|
|23||Rob Purdham||Loose Forward||Harlequins RL||4||0|
|24||Micky Higham||Hooker||Wigan Warriors||0||1|
England have competed three times in the World Cup, in 1975, 1995 and 2000. They have never won the competition, although finished second to Australia in 1975 and 1995. In every other year Great Britain have represented England. In 2008 England will play in the World Cup in Australia and from 2008, England will compete in all World Cups.
England have competed in twenty-six European Nations Cups, the first in 1935. In the past the tournament has been axed and revived many times, and it was stopped for six years because of the Second World War. From 1935 to 1949 (minus the war years) England played France and Wales annually, and won the tournament in 1935, 1946, 1947 and 1948. From 1950 to 1956 an Other Nationalities team were added as the fourth team in the competition (except in 1956 when Wales did not field a team). During those years England won in 1950 and 1954. Since then the tournament has run for some seasons, but never for more than five years at a time. But from 1970 to 1996 England won it six out of a possible nine times. In 2003 the tournament was revived and England comfortably won, beating her old rivals plus Scotland, Ireland and Russia. England beat the same opponents to win the cup again in 2004. This was the last time England competed, they were replaced by Georgia. The cup ran for just one more year before it was axed again. It has not since returned. In total England have won the cup fourteen times.
England competed in the only Federation Shield competition in 2006. The tournament was held in England and France and was contested by England, Tonga, Samoa and France. England won their three group matches in Leeds, London and Hull before beating Tonga 32-14 in Widnes. The tournament was axed due to poor attendances, particularly in England.
It has already been confirmed that England will replace Great Britain for all international tournaments from 2008, but there is believed to be a Four Nations competition scheduled for 2009 which will be contested by Australia, England, France and New Zealand.
|John Kear||2000 - July 2004||?||?||?||?||?|
|Karl Harrison||July 2004 - August 2006||?||?||?||?||?|
|Paul Cullen||August 2006 - October 2008||4||4||0||0||100%|
|Tony Smith||October 2008 - Present||1||1||0||0||100%|
The first ever match for England was against a mixture of Welsh and Scottish players calling themselves the "Other Nationalities" in 1904. This match was lost, but England won a year later against the same opposition. In 1908 England first played a touring team, New Zealand. The first match played out of England was a little later in 1908 in Tonypandy, Wales. In 1975 they played Papua New Guinea for the first and only time so far. More recently in the 1995 and 2000 World Cups, England has faced new opposition in teams like South Africa, Fiji and Ireland.
Please note that before 1975, and after 1975 until 1995, Great Britain represented England as well as Scotland, Wales and Ireland, and so England did not compete in those tournaments despite many players from those Great Britain teams being English. In 1975 Wales were considered to be good enough for their own team, and so Great Britain split into England and Wales for the competition. This is similar to the 1995 tournament and also the 2000 competition in which Ireland and Scotland also competed as well as England and Wales.
|Year||Round||Position||Won||Drawn||Lost||Pts Scored||Pts Against|
The England A team is made up of selected players from the Super League, who are not yet ready for selection in the main England team. In 2003 and 2004, England A participated in the European Nations Cup.
England Lionhearts are selected from players in the Rugby League Conference. But they started playing as the "The Rugby League Conference Lionhearts", playing other representative teams. In 2000 they competed in the first round of the Challenge Cup losing against Eccles, and losing to Featherstone Lions in the same round in 2001. In 2002 they changed their name to the England Lionhearts, so that they could compete in the Amateur Four Nations competitions against Wales A, Scotland A and Ireland A each year. Likewise those teams are made up of domestic talent in those countries. In 2006 they halted the Welsh dominance of the competition, winning the tournament for the first time. But they were unable to hold onto their trophy, finishing third in 2007 behind Wales and Ireland. In October 2005 the Lionhearts played the Malta national team, in what was the first ever rugby league game played in Malta. The Lionhearts lost 36-6. On the 6 May 2006 the team played Serbia in Pancevo and won 50-4.