Denis Betts

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Denis Betts
Personal information
Full name Denis C. Betts
Born (1969-09-14) 14 September 1969 (age 45)
Salford, Lancashire, England
Playing information
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Position Second-row
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1986–1995 Wigan
1995–1997 Auckland Warriors 42 11 0 0 44
1998–2001 Wigan Warriors
Total 42 11 0 0 44
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1990–1999 Great Britain 32 8 0 0 32
1995 England 4 1 0 0 4
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2004–2005 Wigan Warriors[1]
2012– Widnes Vikings
Total 0 0 0 0

Denis C. Betts (born 14 September 1969 in Salford, Lancashire) is an English rugby league coach and former player. He is the current head coach of Widnes in the Super League. He played for Wigan in the Championship and Super League, for the Auckland Warriors in the Australian National Rugby League, and also represented England at the 1995 Rugby League World Cup. In total, he was capped 32 times for Great Britain. His usual position was as a second-row forward.

Early life[edit]

Betts attended Clarendon High School and has a younger brother, Darren Betts – also a talented rugby and football player who played for Salford in the 1990s. Betts was also a former Manchester United youth team player and was featured in an Inside United article in 2008 about former United players who went on to succeed in other sports.

Betts signed for Wigan from Leigh Miners[2] ARL (also known as Leigh Rangers) on 14 October 1986.

Playing career[edit]

He galvanised a great Wigan team, his own medal haul including six Championships, seven Rugby League Challenge Cups, three Premierships, four John Player/Regal Trophies and two Lancashire Cups. He also received the Lance Todd Trophy (1991) and the coveted Man of Steel Award (1995).

Denis Betts played as an Interchange/Substitute, i.e. number 15, (replacing Prop Ian Lucas) in Wigan's 22–17 victory over Salford in the 1988 Lancashire Cup final during the 1988–89 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens on Sunday 23 October 1988,[3] and played left-Second-row, i.e. number 11, in the 5–4 victory over St. Helens in the 1992 Lancashire Cup final during the 1992–93 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens on Sunday 18 October 1992.[4]

He featured in three World Club Challenge matches for Wigan, winning two, against Penrith Panthers in 1991 and Brisbane Broncos 1994.

During the 1992–93 season Betts played at second-row forward for defending RFL champions Wigan in the 1992 World Club Challenge against the visiting Brisbane Broncos. After the 1993–94 season Betts travelled with defending champions Wigan to Brisbane, playing in the second row in the 1994 World Club Challenge victory over Australian premiers, Brisbane Broncos. Betts had the honour of scoring the opening try in the last game at Central Park, Wigan and the first try at the JJB Stadium.

At the height of the Super League War he signed a lucrative deal with the Auckland Warriors in 1995. He became the first player to win both England and Great Britain caps while at the Auckland Warriors. Betts was selected to captain England at second-row forward in the 1995 World Cup but Australia won the match and retained the cup.

Betts returned to Wigan in 1998, and played in the side that lost to Sheffield Eagles in the Challenge Cup Final that year. He missed the 1998 Super League Grand Final win that year through injury. Betts played for the Wigan Warriors at second-row forward in their 2000 Super League Grand Final loss against St Helens RLFC. He also played for Wigan from the interchange bench in their 2001 Super League Grand Final loss to the Bradford Bulls.

Betts was persuaded to retire from playing at the age of 32, to help Wigan get under the salary cap.[5]

He made 32 appearances for Great Britain, the joint highest ever for a forward, and toured three times, in 1990, 1992 and 1996. He also captained England in the 95 World cup final, which they lost to Australia at Wembley Stadium.

Coaching career[edit]

At the end of 2001, Betts moved into coaching as under-18s coach at Wigan, and progressed to under-21s, which he led to victory in the 2003 U21 Grand Final.[6] In July 2003, Stuart Raper was sacked as Wigan coach, and he was replaced by Mike Gregory. Mike then appointed Betts as his assistant. Wigan's results improved and they went on reach the Grand Final, only to lose to Bradford. The following season, Wigan reached another final, losing this time to St Helens in the Challenge Cup final. Betts then took temporary charge in May 2004 when Gregory stepped down due to illness. He held the position for a year before he was moved sideways by the club to make way for the appointment of new head coach Ian Millward, who had left St Helens just two weeks earlier and was recruited for his experience. Betts continued to work under Millward until the end of the 2005 season but left in November after refusing to take a post as coaching the academy U21 side.[7]

In January 2006 he took up a post as skills and development coach with Guinness Premiership rugby union club Gloucester, a position which he left in June 2010,[8] despite having another year on his contract. Speaking about his time at Gloucester, he said "It's a really passionate place and I hope they can get the success they deserve. I really enjoyed the place, especially the match-day atmosphere and the Shed."[9]

While at Gloucester, Betts emerged as a surprise contender for the vacant England coaching job,[10] which he applied for in March 2010, ultimately losing out to Bradford's Steve McNamara.

In November 2010, Betts was appointed as coach of Championship side Widnes.[11] In May 2011, he was reappointed to manage Widnes into the Super League in 2012.[12]


External links[edit]

Preceded by
Mike Gregory

Succeeded by
Ian Millward