Brian Noble (rugby league)

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Brian Noble
Personal information
Full name Brian D. Noble
Nickname Nobby
Born (1961-02-14) 14 February 1961 (age 56)
Bradford, West Riding of Yorkshire, England
Playing information
Height 5 ft 8 in (1.73 m)
Weight 13 st 0 lb (83 kg)
Position Hooker
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1978–84 Bradford Northern
1985 Cronulla-Sutherland 7 1 0 0 4
1986–95 Bradford Northern
1995–96 Wakefield Trinity
Total 7 1 0 0 4
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1982–84 Great Britain 11 1 0 0 4
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2001–06 Bradford Bulls 80 65 2 13 81
2006–09 Wigan Warriors 91 49 4 38 54
2010 Crusaders RL 31 14 0 17 45
2013–14 Salford Red Devils 23 8 0 15 35
Total 225 136 6 83 60
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2004–06 Great Britain 14 6 0 8 43
Source: RLP

Brian David "Nobby" Noble MBE (born 14 February 1961 in Bradford) is an English rugby league coach and former player. As a player, Noble was a Great Britain representative hooker, however he is best known for his coaching career in which he coached Bradford, Wigan, Crusaders Rugby League and Salford in the Super League and the Great Britain national team. He was the first coach to win three Super League Grand Finals, and is currently one of only two coaches to have achieved that feat along with Brian McDermott. He is currently Director of Rugby for the Toronto Wolfpack and also works as a pundit for BBC Sport.

Playing career[edit]

Brian Noble's early rugby league career was as a member of the Police Boys' Clubs before he signed for Bradford Northern. His début came in the 1978-79 season and was the beginning of almost 15 years and over 400 games with the club, concluding in the centenary season of 1995-96 following a spell at Wakefield Trinity (Heritage № 1062).

Noble combined his professional career with his job as a policeman,[1] and captained Great Britain on the Lions' tour of Australasia in 1984.[2] He played in all seven tests on the tour, including the test in Papua New Guinea.

Brian Noble played hooker in Bradford Northern's 5-10 defeat by Castleford in the 1981 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1981–82 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 3 October 1981, played hooker in the 7-18 defeat by Hull F.C. in the 1982 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1981–82 season at Elland Road, Leeds on Saturday 2 October 1982, played hooker in the 12-12 draw with Castleford in the 1987 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1987–88 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 17 October 1987, played hooker in the 11-2 victory Castleford in the 1987 Yorkshire County Cup Final replay during the 1987–88 season at Elland Road, Leeds on Saturday 31 October 1987. Brian Noble played hooker in Bradford Northern's 2-12 defeat by Warrington in the 1990–91 Regal Trophy Final during the 1990–91 season at Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 12 January 1991, and played hooker (replaced by interchange/substitute Trevor Clark) in the 15-8 defeat by Wigan in the 1992–93 Regal Trophy Final during the 1992–93 season at Elland Road, Leeds on Saturday 23 January 1993.[3]

Coaching career[edit]


After 6 years serving in the backroom staff at the club following his retirement, he was appointed Bradford head coach in November 2000.[4] After initial confusion regarding chairman Chris Caisley's appointment - the tabloids reported that the new coach was Radio 4 comedian Ross Noble! - he was a hugely popular choice to succeed departing coach Matthew Elliott. Noble took Bradford to the 2001 Super League Grand Final in which they defeated Wigan. As Super League VI champions, Bradford played against 2001 NRL Premiers, the Newcastle Knights in the 2002 World Club Challenge. Noble oversaw Bradford's victory. In July 2002, Noble received an honorary doctorate from the University of Bradford for his achievements as a rugby league player and coach. He took Bradford to the 2002 Super League Grand Final which was lost to St. Helens. He was named Super League coach of the year in 2003 and succeeded David Waite as Great Britain coach following the 2003 Ashes series. After failing to reach the Grand Final for the first time in 2004, Noble led Bradford to victory in the 2005 Super League Grand Final, his third Championship in five years with the club. Noble left Bradford midway through the 2006 season to join Wigan, handing control to his assistant Steve McNamara.

While head coach of Bradford, Noble guided the Bulls to two Minor Premiership titles, victory in three Grand Finals in 2001, 2003 and 2005, victory in the Challenge Cup in 2003 and to three World Club Championships in 2002, 2004 and 2006. In 2004 he received the Rugby League International Federation's coach of the year award.[5]

Noble coaching Wigan against Harlequins RL


On 20 April 2006 Noble took up the position of head coach at Wigan, nine days after the sacking of Ian Millward. Brian took over at the club during a relegation battle which at one point looked as though Wigan would lose, however he has been credited for keeping Wigan in Super League following a number of impressive performance. However, despite having just £60,000 available to spend under the salary cap, Noble bought Stuart Fielden and Michael Dobson from the Bradford Bulls for a world record £450,000. At the end of the season when the club's books were audited by the league's accountants, it was found there was an unauthorised overspend of £222,314, which led to allegations that the club cheated their way out of relegation by deliberately spending money they didn't have due to salary cap restrictions. However the club was eventually only found guilty of "breaching the spirit of the cap", by trying to restructure existing contracts.

On 17 January 2007 it was announced that his contract as head coach of the British national team would not be renewed.

In June 2009 there was speculation that Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan had approached New Zealand national rugby league coach Stephen Kearney in relation to succeeding Brian Noble as head coach at Wigan.[6]

In October 2009, after the defeat by St Helens in the semi-final play-off game, Noble announced he would be leaving to club.[7] [8]

Crusaders RL[edit]

On 14 October 2009 Noble was confirmed as the new head coach of the Welsh side Crusaders.[9] Jon Sharp was first-team coach, and Iestyn Harris was an assistant. In the 2010 season Noble managed to gain 13 wins, which was a vast improvement on the season before, and took them into the play offs for the first time.

In November 2010, Noble confirmed his departure from Crusaders Rugby League after only one season in charge. His last match as Head Coach was an 18-12 loss away to Huddersfield in an Elimination Play-off tie.


On 13 April 2013 Noble was appointed head coach of Salford on an 18-month contract, but on 4 April 2014, Marwan Koukash announced that Noble would become the director of football at Salford, while Noble's former assistant Iestyn Harris would become the new head coach.[10] He departed the club soon after.

Following his departure from Salford, Noble worked in a part-time consultancy basis with London Broncos and Gloucestershire All Golds, while regularly appearing as a pundit and occasionally as a co-commentator on BBC Sport's rugby league coverage.


Noble was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to rugby league and charity.[11]

As a player[edit]

As a coach[edit]




  1. ^ Emery, David (1984). WHO'S WHO IN RUGBY LEAGUE. London: Queen Anne Press. ISBN 0-356-10436-2. 
  2. ^ "Tri-Nations: Great Britain profiles". Mail Online. UK: Associated Newspapers. 19 October 2004. Retrieved 14 February 2011. 
  3. ^ "23rd January 1993: Bradford 8 Wigan 15 (Regal Trophy Final)". 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015. 
  4. ^ "Super League Team-by-team guide". London: Telegraph Media Group Limited. 1 March 2001. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  5. ^ "Awards". Rugby League International Federation. Retrieved 5 December 2013. 
  6. ^ Stott, Julie (2009-06-22). "The axe looms over Noble". London: The Sun. Retrieved 2009-06-25. 
  7. ^ Dawkes, Phil (2009-10-03). "St Helens 14-10 Wigan". BBC Sport. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  8. ^ "Coach Noble confirms Wigan exit". BBC Sport. 2009-10-03. Retrieved 2009-10-07. 
  9. ^ "Noble unveiled as Crusaders coach". BBC Sport. 2009-10-14. Retrieved 2009-10-14. 
  10. ^
  11. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B21. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Phil Veivers
Alan Hunte
Salford Red Devils

Succeeded by
Iestyn Harris
Preceded by
John Dixon

Succeeded by
Iestyn Harris
Preceded by
Ian Millward
Wigan Warriors

Succeeded by
Michael Maguire
Preceded by
Matthew Elliott
Bradford Bulls

Succeeded by
Steve McNamara
Preceded by
David Waite
Great Britain

Succeeded by
Tony Smith