Keiron Cunningham

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Keiron Cunningham
Keiron Cunningham Deerstalker.jpg
Personal information
Full nameKeiron Cunningham
Born (1976-10-28) 28 October 1976 (age 43)
St Helens, Merseyside, England
Playing information
Height176 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Weight107 kg (236 lb; 16 st 12 lb)
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1995–00 Wales 9 2 0 0 8
1996–06 Great Britain 14 0 0 0 0
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2015–17 St. Helens 74 43 1 30 58
Source: [1][2][3]

Keiron Cunningham (born 28 October 1976) is a British professional rugby league coach and former player. A Great Britain and Wales international representative hooker, he played his entire professional career at St Helens, making nearly 500 appearances for the club between 1994 and 2010 and winning numerous trophies.[1][2] He has been frequently cited as being among the best players in the Super League history and is widely regarded to be one of St Helens' greatest players of all time.[4][5][6][7]

The youngest of ten siblings, two of his brothers, Eddie Cunningham and Tommy Cunningham, also played for St Helens. Keiron Cunningham was born five months after his brother Eddie won a Rugby League Challenge Cup winner's medal for St Helens against Widnes.[8]

Following his retirement as player Cunningham remained at St Helens as an assistant coach, and was head coach of the club between 2015 and April 2017.[3][9] Cunningham is currently head of rugby at Leigh Centurions.[10]

Playing career[edit]

In 1993, on his 17th birthday, Cunningham signed for his hometown club St Helens from Wigan St Judes.[11] He made his début in the 1994–95 Rugby Football League season, and soon established himself as a world class hooker, renowned for his dynamic running from dummy half and ability to poach tries from short distances. He represented both Great Britain and Wales in international matches, qualifying for Wales because of a Welsh grandfather.

Keiron Cunningham played hooker, and scored a try in St. Helens' 16-25 defeat by Wigan in the 1995–96 Regal Trophy Final during the 1995–96 at Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield on Saturday 13 January 1996.[12]

Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in the 1996 Challenge Cup Final, scoring a try in the second half of the match and helping his team to a 40-32 victory over the Bradford Bulls.[13] At the end of 1996's Super League I, Cunningham was named at hooker in the 1996 Super League Dream Team. Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 1999 Super League Grand Final victory over the Bradford Bulls. Also in 1999 he was the only British player voted into the World XIII.[14]

Cunningham playing for St Helens in 2010

Cunningham played for St Helens at hooker in their 2000 Super League Grand Final victory against the Wigan Warriors. As Super League V champions, St Helens played against 2000 NRL Premiers, the Brisbane Broncos in the 2001 World Club Challenge. Cunningham played at hooker in Saints' victory.

Cunningham played for St. Helens at hooker in their 2002 Super League Grand Final victory against the Bradford Bulls.

Over the course of his career, Cunningham rejected offers from the Welsh Rugby Union, England Rugby Union, and from various Australian rugby league clubs, instead choosing to remain with his hometown team. In 2006 Cunningham was named as captain of St. Helens following the persistent injuries and subsequent retirement of Paul Sculthorpe. Cunningham played for St. Helens at hooker in their 2006 Challenge Cup Final victory against the Huddersfield Giants. St Helens reached the 2006 Super League Grand final to be contested against Hull FC, and Cunningham played at hooker, scoring a try in Saints' 26-4 victory. As 2006 Super League champions, St Helens faced 2006 NRL Premiers the Brisbane Broncos in the 2007 World Club Challenge. Cunningham played from the interchange bench in Saints' 18-14 victory.

He played in the 2009 Super League Grand Final defeat by the Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford.[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23][24][25][26]

Keiron Cunningham warming up for St Helens in 2010

In 2010, Cunningham announced that he would be retiring from rugby league following the culmination of 2010's Super League XV.[27] 2010 also marked the last year at St Helens' Knowsley Road ground before moving to a new stadium. It was, in fact, Kieron Cunningham who scored the last try ever at the prestigious ground in his penultimate match. However, despite a memorable 2010 play-offs for Cunningham, there was to be no fairytale ending as his last ever game ended in defeat against arch rivals the Wigan Warriors in the 2010 Super League Grand Final.

He finished his career with 496 appearances for St Helens,[28] scoring 175 tries.

During his career he won five Super League Championships, seven Challenge Cup Winners Medals and two World Club Challenge Winners medals, was named in the Super League Dream Team on six occasions,[29] and in July 2007 Rugby League World magazine ranked him as the greatest player of the Super League era.

Following a supporters' poll featuring the likes of Tom van Vollenhoven and Alex Murphy, Cunningham was chosen to be cast as a bronze statue outside of Langtree Park.[30] The statue was unveiled on Chalon Way opposite the Glass House pub in March 2010[31] and was relocated to the stadium following its completion in October 2011.[32]

Coaching career[edit]

Following his retirement as a player, Cunningham took up an assistant coaching role in the strength and conditioning department at St Helens. After the sacking of Royce Simmons in 2012 he was appointed assistant head coach of St Helens, working alongside temporary head coach Mike Rush.

On Monday 20 October 2014, Cunningham was appointed as Head Coach of St. Helens. He appointed former Saints teammate Sean Long to assist him for his role.[33] On 10 April 2017 it was announced on the BBC North West Today lunchtime bulletin that Cunningham had been sacked after 24 years associated with the club.


  1. ^ a b "Profile at". 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  2. ^ a b "Statistics at". 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "Coach Statistics at". 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ Cunningham finds permanent place with his Saints. (8 February 2009). Retrieved on 2016-01-31.
  5. ^ Robbie Paul hails Saint Helens Keiron Cunningham the best. BBC News (1 March 2010). Retrieved on 2016-01-31.
  6. ^ Keiron Cunningham. Retrieved on 31 January 2016.
  7. ^ Burke, David (10 October 2007) Keiron Cunningham was born to play for Saints. Retrieved on 31 January 2016.
  8. ^ "Big brother rules out Keiron claim". BBC Sport. 8 August 2001. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  9. ^ Keiron Cunningham: St Helens part company with head coach
  10. ^ Keiron Cunningham: Leigh Centurions name ex-St Helens coach as head of rugby
  11. ^ "Cunningham backs league cause". BBC Sport. 7 August 2001. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  12. ^ "13th January 1996: St Helens 16 Wigan 25 (Regal Trophy Final)". 31 December 2014. Retrieved 1 January 2015.
  13. ^ "". Steve Prescott Stats. Steve Prescott Foundation. Archived from the original on 8 August 2012. Retrieved 3 June 2012.
  14. ^ "World Cup Star - Keiron Cunningham". 2000. Retrieved 4 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Rhinos Take Super League Title". Sky News. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  16. ^ Burke, David (11 October 2009). "Smith's Crisp". The Daily Mirror. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  17. ^ AFP (11 October 2009). "Leeds makes it Super League hat-trick". ABC News. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  18. ^ AAP (11 October 2009). "Leeds claim third successive Grand Final". Archived from the original on 3 October 2012. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  19. ^ Linfoot, Ben (10 October 2009). "Grand Final: Leeds Rhinos 18 St Helens 10". Sky Sports. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  20. ^ Correspondent (12 October 2009). "Potter refuses to blame video ref". Liverpool Echo. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  21. ^ Fletcher, Paul (10 October 2009). "St Helens 10-18 Leeds Rhinos". BBC Sport. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  22. ^ "Third time unlucky as Saints fail to halt Rhinos' charge to title". Liverpool Daily Post. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  23. ^ "Sinfield hails winning culture". The Daily Mirror. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  24. ^ Stewart, Rob (12 October 2009). "Lee Smith targets place in England rugby union team after Grand Final victory". The Telegraph. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  25. ^ "Sinfield hails historic title win". BBC Sport. 11 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  26. ^ "Leeds Rhinos fans in homecoming welcome". Yorkshire Evening Post. 12 October 2009. Retrieved 22 November 2019.
  27. ^ "Cunningham looking to end on a high". BBC. 26 January 2010. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  28. ^ Slater, Gary (3 October 2010). "Michael Maguire plots new Wigan dynasty following Grand Final win over St Helens". Telegraph. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  29. ^ "2008 engage Super League Dream Team". Super League. 15 September 2008. Archived from the original on 21 July 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
  30. ^ "Cunningham statue moves to new stadium". St Helens Star. Retrieved 25 October 2012.
  31. ^ Kilmurray, Andrew (4 March 2010). "Saints' Keiron Cunningham 'humbled' by bronze statue". St Helens Star. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  32. ^ "Keiron Cunningham statue moves to new Saints rugby league stadium". St Helens Star. 18 October 2011. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
  33. ^ Sean Long returns to St Helens as Keiron Cunningham’s assistant coach| Sport. The Guardian (17 November 2014). Retrieved on 2016-01-31.

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Nathan Brown
St. Helens

Succeeded by
Justin Holbrook