Lancashire County Rugby Football Union

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Lancashire RFU
Full name Lancashire County Rugby Football Union
formerly Lancashire County Football Club
Union RFU
Founded 1881; 136 years ago (1881)
Region Lancashire, parts of Merseyside and Greater Manchester
President Tom Fitzgerald
Coach(es) Mark Nelson
Team kit
Official website

The Lancashire County Rugby Football Union is the society responsible for rugby union in the county of Lancashire, England and is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union having been formed in 1881. In addition it is the county that has won the county championship on most occasions.


Club history precedes that of county rugby football.

Early years of County representative team[edit]

The first match arranged for the county of Lancashire took place in 1870, at Leeds against Yorkshire. This match was immediately known as the "Battle of the Roses" and was considered the "blue ribbon" of Northern rugby football. To be selected to represent the county was an honour bestowed long before the foundation of the Lancashire RFU and it was seen as "the high road to International honours".[1]

Formation of the Lancashire Football Union[edit]

A body or rugby union players posing in uniform before a match
The Lancashire team before a match against Middlesex in 1887

From 1870 to 1881 the government and arrangement of county matches in Lancashire vested in Manchester Football Club. Though self-appointed, Manchester was recognised as the authority by the other great Lancashire club, Liverpool.[1] A movement of emerging new clubs, headed by W. Bell, the honorary secretary of the Broughton Football Club, had an objective to secure a voice in the selection of county teams. Bell was supported by an informal committee consisting of: G. C. Lindsay (Manchester Rangers), A. M. Crook (Free Wanderers), F. C. Hignett (Swinton), Hunter (Birch). Initial approaches to the Manchester Club were declined and in 1881 a general meeting of Lancashire clubs was called at which the following clubs were represented: Manchester Rangers; Free Wanderers; Broughton; Swinton; Walton; Rossendale; Oldham; Manchester Athletic; Rochdale Hornets; Chorley Birch; and Cheetham. Notably, the Manchester Club did not take part, but a resolution to form the Lancashire Football Union was agreed. The initial committee had W. Bell as its honorary secretary and G. C. Lindsay as the honorary treasurer.[1] Two county matches were arranged altogether versus the Midland Counties and Lanarkshire (Scotland). Manchester then decided to wrest control of the county back and on 22 December 1881 met with the new Union and a duly constituted and representative governing body, its club to be called The Lancashire County Football Club, was formed. It was agreed the president, a vice-president, the hon. secretary and treasurer should be elected from the Manchester Football Club, a vice-president and a member of committee from the Liverpool Club, and the remaining eight names to be elected from clubs other than the Manchester and Liverpool clubs. Also, all Home County matches would be played on the ground of the Manchester Football Club.[1] The first officers and clubs elected to represent the newly formed Lancashire County Football Club were:

The first match was versus the Midland Counties (the Lanarkshire match having been cancelled), played at Coventry on 26 March 1882. Albert Neilson Hornby became president after James MacLaren resigned the office on 1 October 1884. Lancashire was part of the Queen's Jubilee celebrations in 1887 when they were asked to play Middlesex at Kennington Oval on 12 March as a representation of Rugby Football, whilst Corinthians played Preston North End as an exposition of Association rules. Lancashire, led by Edward Temple Gurdon, won by a try, gained by Vincent Slater (Salford).[1]

In February 1889 it was proposed that the county shall be divided out into five districts (Manchester, Liverpool, South-East Lancashire, West Lancashire, and North Lancashire) each with three representatives, removing club based representation on the committee.[1]

1890 - 1900: Lancashire and the county championship[edit]

Lancashire won the 1890-91 season of the County Championship, despite the county championship having been organised by arch-rivals, Yorkshire. Lancashire won all their games with "not a goal being scored against them in any of the county matches they played".[1] They then played "the Rest of England", on 18 April 1891. In 1891-92 Lancashire were defeated by Yorkshire who therefore wrested the championship of England from Lancashire. At this time, Lancashire County Football Club was made up of a number of clubs, and two sub-unions, West Lancashire Union (formed in 1884) and South-East Lancashire Union was (predating the county Rugby Union having been formed in 1877):[1]

It was postulated that the comparatively small membership compared to Yorkshire had its roots in the fact that Yorkshire had a Challenge Cup the eligibility for which was based on membership of the county union, whereas in Lancashire there was no equivalent.[1]

County side[edit]


The county side has reached the County Championship Final 37 times, winning the title on a record 24 occasions. Lancashire have played in eleven of the past thirteen finals (from 2003 to 2017) and has won eight of those eleven finals.

Year Winner Regional Winners
1891 Lancashire
1892 Yorkshire Kent, Lancashire, Midlands
1894 Yorkshire Lancashire, Midlands, Somerset
Year Winners Home Team Score Away Team Venue Notes
1929 Middlesex Middlesex 8-8 Lancashire Twickenham
Lancashire 8-9 Middlesex Blundellsands Replay match
1930 Gloucestershire Lancashire 7-13 Gloucestershire Blundellsands
1933 Hampshire Hampshire 18-7 Lancashire Boscombe
1935 Lancashire Somerset 0-14 Lancashire Bath
1938 Lancashire Lancashire 24-12 Surrey Blundellsands
1947 Lancashire Lancashire 8-8 Gloucestershire Blundellsands
Gloucestershire 3-14 Lancashire Kingsholm Replay match
1948 Lancashire Eastern Counties 0-5 Lancashire Cambridge
1949 Lancashire Lancashire 9-3 Gloucestershire Blundellsands
1952 Middlesex Middlesex 9-6 Lancashire Twickenham
1954 Middlesex Lancashire 6-24 Middlesex Blundellsands
1955 Lancashire Middlesex 8-14 Lancashire Twickenham
1964 Warwickshire Warwickshire 8-6 Lancashire Coundon Road, Coventry
1966 Middlesex Lancashire 0-6 Middlesex Blundellsands
1969 Lancashire Cornwall 9-11 Lancashire Redruth
1973 Lancashire Gloucestershire 12-17 Lancashire Memorial Ground Bristol
1974 Gloucestershire Lancashire 12-22 Gloucestershire Blundellsands
1977 Lancashire Lancashire 17-6 Middlesex Blundellsands
1980 Lancashire Lancashire 21-15 Gloucestershire Vale of Lune
1981 Lancashire North Midlands 3-7 Lancashire The Reddings, Moseley

From 1984 all Championship finals were played at Twickenham.

Year Winners Score Runner's Up Venue Notes
1988 Lancashire 23-18 Warwickshire Twickenham
1990 Lancashire 32-9 Middlesex Twickenham
1992 Lancashire 9-6 Cornwall Twickenham
1993 Lancashire 9-6 Yorkshire Twickenham
2003 Lancashire 24-18 Gloucestershire Twickenham
2005 Devon 22-16 Lancashire Twickenham
2006 Lancashire 32-26 Devon Twickenham
2007 Devon 27-6 Lancashire Twickenham
2009 Lancashire 32-18 Gloucestershire Twickenham
2010 Lancashire 36-6 Gloucestershire Twickenham
2011 Lancashire 32-23 Hertfordshire Twickenham
2012 Hertfordshire 38-20 Lancashire Twickenham
2013 Lancashire 35-26 Cornwall Twickenham
2014 Lancashire 36-26 Cornwall Twickenham
2017 Lancashire 19-8 Cornwall Twickenham

Notable players for the County side[edit]


  • 1881/84 J McLaren ★ (Manchester)
  • 1884/14 A. N. Hornby (Manchester)
  • 1919/23 A M Crook ★ (Broughton Park)
  • 1923/24 H Williamson (Kersal)
  • 1924/26 A Brettagh (Liverpool)
  • 1926/28 T W S Pollok (Waterloo)
  • 1928/30 H S Johnson (Heaton Moor)
  • 1930/32 J E Kidd (Broughton Park)
  • 1932/34 J Milnes ★ (Manchester)
  • 1934/36 T J Bradburn (Manchester)
  • 1936/37 Dr E Moir (Manchester University)
  • 1937/39 T Brakell (Waterloo)
  • 1939/47 J Hunter (Manchester)
  • 1947/49 J Bradley (Warrington)
  • 1949/51 H G Preston (Waterloo)
  • 1951/53 J H Roberts (Prestwich)
  • 1053/55 J B G Whittaker (Manchester)
  • 1955/56 J R Locker ★ (Warrington)
  • 1956/57 E Ogden (Fylde)
  • 1957/58 S C Meikle (Waterloo)
  • 1958/59 H A Fry (Liverpool)
  • 1959/60 C B Sewell (Prestwich)
  • 1960/61 N Shaw (Eccles)
  • 1961/62 J Heaton (Waterloo)
  • 1962/63 R S Unsworth (Manchester)
  • 1963/64 V G Funduklian (Broughton Park)
  • 1964/65 R H Guest (Waterloo)
  • 1965/66 E Randell (Furness)
  • 1966/67 A Marsden (Preston Grasshoppers)
  • 1967/68 L Mortlock (Prestwich)
  • 1968/69 P G Clemence (Manchester)
  • 1969/70 W E Naylor (St. Helens)
  • 1970/71 A Shuker (Broughton Park)
  • 1971/72 R G Burton (Manchester)
  • 1972/73 C C C Burch (Warrington)
  • 1973/74 W R Hall (Heaton Moor)
  • 1974/75 R Higgins (Liverpool)
  • 1975/76 E Evans (Old Aldwinians)
  • 1976/77 G A Macintosh (Waterloo)
  • 1977/78 J H Waters (Kersal)
  • 1978/79 J Benson (Orrell)
  • 1979/80 J Walsh (Heaton Moor)
  • 1980/81 A Gott (Burnage)
  • 1981/82 J Burgess ★ (Broughton Park)
  • 1982/83 R H Wiseman (Preston Grasshoppers)
  • 1983/84 F Hardman (Sedgley Park)
  • 1984/85 Malcolm Phillips ★ (Fylde)
  • 1985/86 W G Bevan (Broughton Park)
  • 1986/87 Dr J E Ryner (Broughton Park)
  • 1987/88 I Sinclair (Heaton Moor)
  • 1988/89 W S B Faulds (Anti-Assassins/Bury)
  • 1989/90 K Jones (Manchester)
  • 1990/91 Dr N H Atkinson (Heaton Moor)
  • 1991/92 E Deasey (Rochdale)
  • 1992/93 B H England (Warrington)
  • 1993/94 R B Bretherton (Southport)
  • 1994/95 K Brown (Liverpool)
  • 1995/96 H E Neeley (Sedgley Park)
  • 1996/97 P E Hughes (Calder Vale)
  • 1997/98 W A Kershaw (Manchester)
  • 1998/99 B Leigh (Wigan)
  • 1999/00 R T J Briers (West Park)
  • 2000/01 T W Alexander (Tyldesley)
  • 2001/02 W G D Chappell (Bury)
  • 2002/03 E M Whiteside (Southport)
  • 2003/04 F Morgan (Wigan)
  • 2004/05 J W Dewhurst (Fleetwood)
  • 2005/06 M Cornelia (Warrington)
  • 2006/07 S M Parker (Manchester)
  • 2007/08 D N Herriman (Widnes)
  • 2008/09 K Andrews (West Park)
  • 2009/10 C Barker (Wigan)
  • 2010/11 D Welsh (Fleetwood)
  • 2011/12 T Hughes (Leigh)
  • 2012/13 M Worsley (West Park)
  • 2013/14 D Hodgson (Blackburn/Vale of Lune)
  • 2014/15 D Matthews (Liverpool St. Helens)
  • 2015/16 T Stirk (Fylde / Schools Union)
  • 2016/17 T Fitzgerald (Preston Grasshoppers)
  • 2017/18 S Blackburn (Rochdale)

Notes: ★ RFU President

Affiliated clubs[edit]

There are currently 83 clubs affiliated with the Lancashire RFU, most of which have teams at both senior and junior level. The majority of teams are based in Lancashire, parts of Greater Manchester and Merseyside, but there are also occasionally sides from Cheshire and even Cumbria that are members.


  1. ^ Eagle are based in Cheshire but belong to the Lancashire RFU.
  2. ^ The University of Cumbria is based in Cumbria but has campuses in Lancaster and belongs to the Lancashire RFU.
  3. ^ Widnes are based in Cheshire but belong to the Lancashire RFU.

County club competitions[edit]

The Lancashire RFU currently helps run the following competitions for club sides based in Lancashire:




Discontinued competitions[edit]

  • Lancashire Cup - knockout cup competition that ran between 1971 to 2013. It was once the premier cup competition in the county.
  • North Lancashire 2 - tier 9 league for Lancashire clubs that was abolished in 2015


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Francis Marshall, Football; the Rugby union game, page 373, London
  2. ^ "Clubs". Lancashire RFU. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 
  3. ^ "County Cup Competitions". Lancashire RFU. Retrieved 5 June 2017. 

External links[edit]