Mal Reilly

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Mal Reilly
Personal information
Full name Malcolm John Reilly
Born (1948-01-19) 19 January 1948 (age 66)
Barkston Ash district, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Playing information
Position Loose forward/Lock
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1967–71 Castleford
1971–75 Manly-Warringah 89 13 1 0 41
1974–86 Castleford
Total 89 13 1 0 41
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1973–77 England 2+1 0 0 0 0
1970 Great Britain 9 1 0 0 3
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
06 Dec 1974–26 Apr 87 Castleford 513 276 25 212 54
19??–?? Leeds
19??–?? Halifax
1995–98 Newcastle Knights 98 62 3 33 63
1999–04 Huddersfield Giants 30 5 0 25 17
2004 Hull KR
Total 641 343 28 270 54
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1987–94 Great Britain 56 38 0 18 68
Source: RLP Yesterday's Hero

Malcolm J. Reilly (born 19 January 1948 in Barkston Ash district, West Riding of Yorkshire[1]) is an English rugby league footballer of the 1960s, '70s and '80s, and coach of the 1970s, '80s, '90s and 2000s, playing at representative level for Great Britain, England, and Yorkshire, and at club level for Castleford (twice) in England, and Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles in Australia, as a Loose forward/Lock, and coaching at representative level for Great Britain, and at club level for Castleford, Leeds, Halifax, Huddersfield Giants, and Hull Kingston Rovers in England, and Newcastle Knights in Australia taking them to their first premiership in 1997.

Playing career[edit]

International honours[edit]

Mal Reilly won caps for England while at Castleford in 1970 against Wales, and France, and in 1977 against Wales (sub),[2] and won caps for Great Britain while at Castleford in 1970 against Australia (3 matches), and New Zealand (3 matches), and in the 1970 Rugby League World Cup against Australia, France, and Australia.[3] Mal Reily was part of the victorious Great Britain touring team that defeated Australia in the 1970 Ashes series. As of 2013 this remains the last time Great Britain or England has won The Ashes. Australia regained The Ashes during the 1973 Kangaroo tour and have not lost them since.

County honours[edit]

Mal Reilly represented Yorkshire while at Castleford in 1968 against Cumberland and Lancashire.[4]

Challenge Cup final appearances[edit]

Mal Reilly played Loose forward/Lock, i.e. number 13, and won the Lance Todd Trophy in Castleford’s 11–6 victory over Salford in the 1968–69 Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 17 May 1969,[5] and played in the 7–2 victory over Wigan in the 1969–70 Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 9 May 1970.[6] He later became a Tigers Hall Of Fame Inductee.[7]

Australian playing career[edit]

Reilly later played in Australia when he was signed by Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles secretary Ken Arthurson. His signing proved a boom for Manly as Reilly helped them to their first premiership in 1972 and to their second the following year. He thus became only the third ever Englishman to play in a grand final-winning team in Australia.

Early in the 1973 Grand Final against the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks, a team which was captain-coached by Reilly's former Great Britain team mate Tommy Bishop and also included Lions prop Cliff Watson, Reilly was felled late by Sharks hooker Ron Turner after getting a kick down field. Clearly hobbled with a badly bruised hip, Reilly went off for pain killing injections. As it was clear he would not last out the match, Manly coach Ron Willey gave the Englishman the instructions to go out and cause as much physical damage to the Sharks players as he could before he could go no further. After carrying out Willey's instructions, Reilly was replaced near half time by John Bucknell.

As for the match itself, the brilliance of Manly centre Bob Fulton was the difference between the two sides as the Sea Eagles won 10-7. The game has often been described as the roughest, dirtiest Grand Final in Sydney premiership history, with several all-in brawls (usually started by Bishop) causing referee Keith Page to caution both teams repeatedly, though strangely he did not send anyone from the field. Leading journalist Ian Heads described the match in the Sunday Telegraph the next day as: "It was a Grand Final as tough and dirty as any bar-room brawl".

Coaching career[edit]

After retiring from playing, Reilly went on to coach Castleford, Leeds, Halifax and Great Britain. He succeeded Maurice Bamford as the Great Britain team's head coach and opened his reign as with six wins, four against France and two over Papua New Guinea, in 1987. He was included in the 1991 Birthday Honours. He stood down as Great Britain's coach in 1994.

Mal Reilly was the coach in Castleford's 15-14 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in the 1985–86 Challenge Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday 3 May 1986.[8]

Reilly then took over Australian side Newcastle Knights for the 1995 ARL season as coach and their results improved markedly. He later coached them to their first grand final at the end of the 1997 ARL season which they won.

In 2001 Reilly's book, Reilly: A Life in Rugby League was published. His coaching career continued but he had less success as head coach of the Huddersfield Giants, who finished bottom of Super League under his stewardship. He left Leeds at the end of the 2003 season following a major coaching re-structuring. In December 2004, Hull Kingston Rovers appointed Mal Reilly as director of rugby and first team coach. However, Reilly left the club mid way through the season.

Outside of rugby league[edit]

Reilly now works as a sales representative in the Newcastle, New South Wales area.

Honoured by Arriva Yorkshire[edit]

Arriva Yorkshire honoured 13 rugby league footballers on Thursday 20 August 2009, at a ceremony at The Jungle, the home of the Castleford Tigers. A fleet of new buses were named after the 'Arriva Yorkshire Rugby League Dream Team'. Members of the public nominated the best ever rugby league footballers to have played in West Yorkshire, supported by local rugby league journalists; James Deighton from BBC Leeds, and Tim Butcher, editor of Rugby League World. The 'Arriva Yorkshire Rugby League Dream Team' is; Trevor Foster MBE, Neil Fox MBE, Albert Goldthorpe, Alan Hardisty, Stan Kielty, Lewis Jones, Roger Millward MBE, Malcolm Reilly, Garry Schofield, Keith Senior, David Topliss, Dave Valentine, and Adrian Vowles.[9]


  1. ^ "Birth details at". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "England Statistics at". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "Great Britain Statistics at". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  4. ^ "Statistics at". ℅ 31 December 2013. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  5. ^ "Sat 17th May 1969 – Challenge Cup – Neutral Ground – 97,939". thecastlefordtigers. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  6. ^ "Sat 9th May 1970 – Challenge Cup – Neutral Ground – 95,255". thecastlefordtigers. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hall of Fame at". castigers. 31 December 2008. Retrieved 1 January 2009. 
  8. ^ "Sat 3rd May 1986 - Challenge Cup - Neutral Ground - 82,134". thecastlefordtigers. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  9. ^ "Arriva Yorkshire Rugby League Dream Team". Arriva Yorkshire. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 

Further reading[edit]

Malcolm Reilly & Ian Heads (1998). Reilly: a life in rugby league. Ironbark. ISBN 9780330361200. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Brian Shaw
Rugby League Transfer Record
Castleford to Manly-Warringah

Succeeded by
Eric Prescott