England national rugby league team

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Badge of England team
Governing body Rugby Football League
Region Europe
Head coach Steve McNamara
Captain Sean O'Loughlin
Most caps Sam Tomkins (28)
Top try-scorer Ryan Hall (24)
Top point-scorer Kevin Sinfield (202)
RLIF ranking 3rd
First international
 England 9–3 Other Nationalities
(Wigan, England; 5 April 1904)
Biggest win
 United States 0–110 England 
(Orlando, Florida, USA; October 2000)
Biggest defeat
 Australia 52–4 England 
(Melbourne; 2 November 2008)
World Cup
Appearances 5 (first time in 1975)
Best result Runners-up, 1975; 1995

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. As of 2008, the team now participates in all World Cups, Four Nations, and Test matches.[1]

The team dates back to 1904 when they played against a mixture of Welsh and Scottish players in Wigan.[2] 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 competed 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, England's main rivals would now 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.[3] 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,[4] nevertheless the team will still be known as "The Lions".

Currently the team is ranked third in the world, behind Australia and New Zealand. Steve McNamara became head coach leaving the Bradford Bulls to take the national job and Sean O'Loughlin is the current captain.


The England team shirt

The first matches[edit]

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 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 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 Salford's James 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.[5] 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. Harold Wagstaff made his debut for England in 1908 against the touring Kangaroos team at 17 years and 228 days.[6]

The Other Nationalities side did return in 1921. An England side beat the Australasian team of the 1921–22 Kangaroo tour of Great Britain 4–5 at Highbury. England's played only one international between 10 May 1956 and 7 November 1968 an 18–6 victory at Headingley.

1975 World Cup Debut[edit]

England played at the World Cup in 1975 coached by Alex Murphy, 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 Kangaroos 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 for the first time since 1975. 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. England would not play again until 2000.


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 surprisingly competitive 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.[7]

England at the 2008 RLWC

England once again competed in the 2008 World Cup, this time travelling to Australia to do so. They got one sole win against Papua New Guinea in the opening match of the tournament, but, following that, lost once to Australia and twice to eventual Cup winners New Zealand finishing 3rd in Group A. They then lost to New Zealand in the semi final 32-22. England's performance in the World Cup attracted criticism from the local media.


England competed in the first Four Nations in 2009 and finished 2nd and lost in the final at Elland Road to Australia 46-16. In 2010 they missed out on getting to the final only winning one game against Papua New Guinea and losing to both Australia and New Zealand. England reached their 2nd final in 2011 but lost again to Australia 30-8.

England automatically qualified for the 2013 World Cup along with Wales who were the co-hosts of the tournament, the first to be held in England for thirteen years. England finished 2nd in Group A only losing once to Australia. They then beat France 34-6 in the quarter final at Wigan but failed to beat current world champions New Zealand at Wembley Stadium in the semi final after conceding a try in the last 30 seconds of play.

England finished third in the 2014 four nations in Australia with their only win coming against Samoa. They lost 16-12 to Australia after Ryan Hall had a try disallowed in Melbourne. Their hopes of getting to the final against Australia were ruined when they lost to New Zealand 16-14.

At the conclusion of the 2015 season England will play the world no.1 ranked team, New Zealand, in a three-match test series. They will play in a warm-up fixture against France in Leigh the week before their first game against the Kiwis.

England automatically qualified for the 2016 Four Nations and will co-host the tournament with Scotland.

England qualified for the 2017 World Cup automatically after reaching the semi final in 2013.

Team Image[edit]


The old logo was used until 2008.

The Lions Crest[edit]

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 and the English national cricket team which all promote similar attributes.

The Shield Crest[edit]

The new official logo was launched on 6 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, symbolising 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.

Kit suppliers[edit]

Manufacturers Period
Germany Puma 2008-2010
Australia ISC 2010-2015
Australia BLK 2015-


World Cup[edit]

World Cup Record
Year Round Position Pld
France 1954 Did not enter
Australia 1957
England 1960
Australia New Zealand 1968
England 1970
France 1972
United Nations 1975 Final 2nd out of 5 9
Australia New Zealand 1977 Did not enter
United Nations 1985-88
United Nations 1989-92
England 1995 Final 2nd out of 10 5
United Kingdom Republic of Ireland France 2000 Semi-final 4th out of 16 5
Australia 2008 Semi-final 3rd out of 10 4
England Wales 2013 Semi-final 3rd out of 14 5
Australia New Zealand 2017

Four Nations[edit]

Four Nations Record
Year Round Position Pld
England France 2009 Final 2nd out of 4 5
Australia New Zealand 2010 Group Stage 3rd out of 4 4
England Wales 2011 Final 2nd out of 4 5
Australia New Zealand 2014 Group Stage 3rd out of 4 4
England Scotland 2016

Current squad[edit]

The England national team squad selected for the 2014 Four Nations tournament (caps and points apply for after the tournament finished):

Other Nat. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Pts Club
England Fullback Zak Hardaker (1991-10-17) 17 October 1991 (age 23) 1 0 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
England Fullback Sam Tomkins (1989-03-23) 23 March 1989 (age 26) 28 88 New Zealand colours.svg New Zealand Warriors
England Wing Joe Burgess (1994-10-14) 14 October 1994 (age 20) 0 0 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Wing Josh Charnley (1991-06-26) 26 June 1991 (age 24) 7 32 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Wing Ryan Hall (1987-11-27) 27 November 1987 (age 27) 23 96 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
England Centre Michael Shenton (1986-07-22) 22 July 1986 (age 29) 9 12 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
Australia Centre Dan Sarginson (1993-05-26) 26 May 1993 (age 22) 2 0 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Centre Kallum Watkins (1991-03-12) 12 March 1991 (age 24) 11 32 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
England Stand-off Stefan Ratchford (1988-07-19) 19 July 1988 (age 27) 1 0 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
England Stand-off Gareth Widdop (1989-03-12) 12 March 1989 (age 26) 14 40 Illawarra colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons
England Halfback Matty Smith (1987-07-23) 23 July 1987 (age 28) 3 0 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Prop George Burgess (1992-04-21) 21 April 1992 (age 23) 8 4 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs
England Prop Tom Burgess (1992-04-21) 21 April 1992 (age 23) 9 4 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs
England Prop Mike Cooper (1988-09-15) 15 September 1988 (age 27) 0 0 Illawarra colours.svg St. George Illawarra Dragons
England Prop James Graham (Vice Captain) (1985-09-10) 10 September 1985 (age 30) 20 4 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs
England Prop Chris Hill (1987-11-03) 3 November 1987 (age 27) 10 0 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
England Hooker Daryl Clark (1993-02-10) 10 February 1993 (age 22) 5 4 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
England Hooker Josh Hodgson (1989-10-31) 31 October 1989 (age 25) 2 0 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
England Second-row Liam Farrell (1990-07-02) 2 July 1990 (age 25) 5 4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Second-row Brett Ferres (1986-04-17) 17 April 1986 (age 29) 10 12 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
England Second-row Joel Tomkins (1987-03-21) 21 March 1987 (age 28) 6 4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Second-row Elliott Whitehead (1989-09-04) 4 September 1989 (age 26) 1 0 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
England Lock Sean O'Loughlin (Captain) (1982-11-24) 24 November 1982 (age 32) 11 4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
England Lock Joe Westerman (1989-09-15) 15 September 1989 (age 26) 1 0 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C.


World Cup[edit]

England have competed five times in the World Cup; in 1975, 1995, 2000, 2008 and 2013. They have never won the competition, though finished runners-up to Australia in 1975 and 1995. In every other year, Great Britain have represented England.

European Nations Cup[edit]

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.

Federation Shield[edit]

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.

Four Nations[edit]

England replaced Great Britain in competing in the Rugby League Four Nations.


Name Tenure Matches Won Drew Lost Win %
Phil Larder 1995 – December 1999
John Kear January 2000 – July 2004
Karl Harrison July 2004 – August 2006
Paul Cullen August 2006 – November 2007 4 4 0 0 100%
Tony Smith November 2007 – December 2009 8 3 0 5 38%
Steve McNamara April 2010–Present 23 13 0 10 57%



  • World Ranking: 3rd (2013)
  • European Ranking: 1st (2013)




  • Biggest home attendance: 67,545 v New Zealand at Wembley Stadium (World Cup Semi-Final), 23 November 2013


Official Rankings as of May 2015[8]
Rank Change Team Points
1 Increase  New Zealand 949.00
2 Decrease  Australia 941.00
3 Steady  England 485.00
4  Samoa 320.00
5  France 215.00
6  Fiji 196.00
7  Ireland 154.00
8  Scotland 123.00
9  Wales 122.00
10  United States 118.00
11  Papua New Guinea 113.00
12  Italy 79.00
13 Increase  Canada 49.00
14 Decrease  Serbia 47.00
15 Increase  Tonga 47.00
16 Decrease  Russia 45.00
17 Steady  Cook Islands 31.00
18 Decrease  Belgium 30.00
19  Germany 24.00
20 Increase  Lebanon 24.00
21 Decrease  Norway 22.00
22  Ukraine 21.00
23 Increase  Malta 20.00
24 Decrease  Greece 19.00
25 Steady  Netherlands 15.00
26 Increase  Spain 14.00
27 Decrease  Denmark 13.00
28 Increase  South Africa 12.00
29 Decrease  Jamaica 11.00
30 Decrease  Czech Republic 9.00
31  Sweden 7.00
32 Steady  Hungary 2.00
33 NEW  Niue 2.00
34 Decrease  Latvia 2.00
35 NEW  Philippines 2.00
36 Decrease  Morocco 0.00


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 time. More recently in the 1995 and 2000 World Cups, England has faced new opposition in teams like South Africa, Fiji and Ireland.

Against Played Won Lost Drawn  % Won
 Wales 61 43 16 2 70.5%
 France 39 30 7 2 75.6%
 Australia 13 2 10 1 15.4%
 New Zealand 11 3 7 1 27.3%
 Tonga 2 2 0 0 100%
 Fiji 3 3 0 0 100%
 Samoa 1 1 0 0 100%
 Papua New Guinea 2 2 0 0 100%
 Russia 1 1 0 0 100%
 Ireland 3 3 0 0 100%
 South Africa 1 1 0 0 100%
Total 138 91 41 6 65.9%

Other England Teams[edit]

In addition to the England team, there has also been an England "Lionhearts" and England A team selected since 2002.

England A[edit]

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[edit]

England Lionhearts are selected from players in the Rugby League Conference.[9] But they started playing as "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.[10] 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 6 May 2006 the team played Serbia in Pančevo and won 50–4.

  • Adam Peel (St Ives Roosters)
  • Andrew Lake (St Albans Centurions)
  • Dan Reeds (Nottingham Outlaws)
  • Demetrius Gonsalves (Leicester Storm)
  • Greg Newlands (Jarrow Vikings)
  • Josh Thorneycroft (Greenwich Admirals)
  • Manbir Mann (Greenwich Admirals)
  • Matt Evans (Telford Raiders)
  • Matt Stringer (St Albans Centurions)
  • Nicholas Agbo (Greenwich Admirals)
  • Oliver Johnson (Southampton Spitfires)
  • Paul Ashbridge (St Ives Roosters)
  • Paul Hyder (Greenwich Admirals)
  • Richard Wareing (Chorley Panthers)
  • Rob Massam (Chester Gladiators)
  • Ross Brooker (Guilford Giants)
  • Russell Morris (Devon Sharks)
  • Sam Broadbent (Chester Gladiators)
  • Scott Aspinall (Bedford Tigers)
  • Scott Holder (Kippax Knights)
  • Tim Stevens (Hemel Stags)
  • Tom Gallagher (East Lancashire Vikings)

England Knights[edit]

Main article: England Knights

In 2011 the England Knights were created to serve as a step up for the younger players from their club in view of playing for the 1st team. A squad of players were chosen (below the age of 25) to represent the Knights in a few games. Their first ever game was against France and the Knights came out 38–18 victors.

The Knights won the 2012 European Cup by beating Ireland and Scotland in a 3-game tournament.


Title Player Number
Most Capped Jodie Broughton 5 caps
Top Point Scorer Luke Gale 28 points
Top Try Scorer Jodie Broughton 6 tries
Top Goal Scorer Jordan Turner 9 goals

Games the Knights have played:

Date Competition Opponents H / A Result
F – A
Tries Goals Attendance
15 October 2011 Friendly France H 38–18 Myler, Houghton, Broughton, Charnley (2), Ratchford, Gale Charnley 4/6, Westwood 1/2 2,071
22 October 2011 Friendly Cumbria A 26–12 Hardaker, Gale, Welham, Watts, Charnley Charnley 3/5 1,163
16 June 2012 Friendly Ireland H 62–4 Hardaker (2), Jones-Bishop (2), Ratchford (2), Smith, Broughton, Flanagan, Hodgson, Lunt Smith 5/6, Ratchford 4/5 11,083
20 October 2012 European Cup Ireland A 56–4 Broughton (2), Dixon, Turner, T. Burgess, Houghton, Gale, Lawrence, G. Burgess (2) Gale 8/10
28 October 2012 European Cup Scotland A 62–24 Sarginson (2), Evans (2), Broughton (2), Taylor (2), G. Burgess, Dixon, Turner Turner 9/11
19 October 2013 Friendly Samoa H 52–16 Powell (2), Taylor, Cockayne, Lawrence, Hughes (3), Ferres Hardaker 9/9

England Lionesses[edit]

Main article: England Lionesses

Famous players[edit]

The following players played for England and are either British Rugby League Hall of Fame inductees, or are one of the top five caps, tries, goals, or points scorers for England. Although both Gus Risman, and Jim Sullivan were Welsh, they are British Rugby League Hall of Fame inductees, and actually played for England, as well as for Wales, and Great Britain. British Rugby League Hall of Fame inductee Vince Karalius was English (of Lithuanian heritage), and although he played for Great Britain, he never played for England, as England games were limited in his playing era. Although George Fairbairn is Scottish, as of 7 November 2010, he is England's highest goal, and points scorer.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Rugby Football League – Brand England Launched Retrieved on 24 May 2008.
  2. ^ RL1895 – The First International Retrieved on 6 June 2008.
  3. ^ England Official Website – New Shirt Launched Retrieved on 18 June 2008.
  4. ^ England Official Website – New Logo Retrieved on 18 June 2008.
  5. ^ England Official Website – A Proud Past Retrieved on 18 June 2008.
  6. ^ Norris McWhirter, Donald McFarlan (1992). The Guinness Book of Records 1992. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 290. ISBN 978-0-85112-378-3. Retrieved 27 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Brook, Kip; NZPA (20 November 2000). "Slick Kiwis storm into final". New Zealand Herald (New Zealand: APN Holdings NZ Limited). Retrieved 15 October 2010. 
  8. ^ RLIF Rankings.
  9. ^ England Lionhearts Official Website – News Retrieved on 5 February 2007.
  10. ^ England Lionhearts Official Website – Home Nations Standings Retrieved on 2 July 2008.

External links[edit]