Leicester Tigers

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"Leicester Football Club" redirects here. For Leicester City Football Club, see Leicester City F.C.
Leicester Tigers
Leicester tigers badge.png
Full name Leicester Football Club
Nickname(s) Tigers
Founded 1880; 136 years ago (1880)
Location Leicester, England
Ground(s) Welford Road (Capacity: 25,849)
Chairman Peter Tom
Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill
Coach(es) Aaron Mauger
Captain(s) Tom Youngs
League(s) English Premiership
2015–16 4th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website
www.leicestertigers.com

Leicester Tigers (officially Leicester Football Club) is an English rugby union club based in Leicester, England that plays in the English Premiership.

Leicester are the most successful English club since the introduction of league rugby in 1987, a record 10 times English champions – 4 more than either Bath or Wasps, and last won the Premiership title in the 2012–13 season. Leicester have also appeared in a record nine successive Premiership finals, from 2005 to 2013. The Tigers have never finished a league season below 6th position, and are one of only four teams (along with Gloucester, Bath and Wasps) never to have been relegated from the top division. Leicester are also the only English side to have qualified to play in every European Rugby Champions Cup (and the Heineken Cup which it replaced) in which English teams have participated, and are also the most successful English side in Europe; back-to-back champions in 2001 and 2002 and losing finalists in 1997, 2007 and 2009.

History[edit]

Foundation[edit]

E. Redman, Leicester captain in 1895.

Leicester Football Club was formed in a meeting held in the city's George Hotel on 3 August 1880 by the merger of three smaller teams: Leicester Societies AFC, Leicester Amateur FC and Leicester Alert.[1] The club's first game was a scoreless draw on 23 October against Moseley at the Belgrave Road Cycle and Cricket Ground.[2] That first season Tigers play a local fixture list against the likes of Northampton, Nuneaton, Rushden, Kettering, Market Harborough and Coventry.[3] In 1881 the club joined the Midlands Counties Football Association enabling them to enter the Midlands Counties Cup the next season. Tigers first ever cup game was an away loss to Edgbaston Crusaders.

Early Years[edit]

This inauspicious start to the cup continued with losses to Moseley in each of the next three seasons. In 1888 Tigers fixture list started to expand outside the midlands, on 10 March they traveled to Valley Parade in Bradford to play Manningham F.C., the forerunners of soccer side Bradford City. The 1888-89 season saw Tigers welcome back Manningham as well as Oldham and Swinton, Cardiff Harlequins became the club's first Welsh opponents.[4] Leicester also reached their first Midland Counties Cup Final that year losing, again, to Moseley in front of 4,000 fans in Coventry.

1889-90 saw Tigers travel to Wales for the first time playing Cardiff and Newport on consecutive days, the Monday and Tuesday of Easter week. Gloucester were added to the fixture list in 1891-92, whilst on 13 February Tigers played in London for the first time, a 37-0 loss to Blackheath.[5]

On 10 September 1892 Leicester played their first game at their present ground, Welford Road, against a Leicestershire XV. That season saw derby matches produce attendances up to 7,000 whilst 10,000 saw Leicester lose 12-0 to Coventry in the second round of the Midlands Counties Cup.[6]

Tom Crumbie and the rise to national prominence[edit]

Tom Crumbie was appointed secretary on 2 August 1895, a position he held for the next 33 years.[7] Crumbie has been credited with dragging the club to national prominence, he disbanded reserve and third teams making the First XV an invitation side and introducing players from all over the country. During his tenure 26 players from the club became capped at international level.[8]

The Midlands Counties Cup was secured for the first time in 1898; captain Arthur Jones lead the club to victories over Rugby (31-0), Burton (17-0) and Coventry (12-5) to reach the final against Moseley played on Wednesday 6 April at Coventry's Butts ground. Jones was forced to miss the final on medical grounds but Tigers still took home the cup for the first time winning 5-3. The only score coming from Percy Oscroft after only 3 minutes, the try converted by Frank Jones, Arthur's brother.[9]

Leicester's first defense of the cup was against local club Belgrave St Peter's, dispatched 68-3, and Tigers progressed to the final again in 1899 first requiring a replay to beat old rivals Moseley in the semi finals. In the final Nuneaton were beaten 20-3. For the next three seasons Leicester had the better of Moseley beating them in the final each year, before seeing off Rugby in the final of 1903. Moseley were defeated again in 1904, Nottingham beaten 31-0 in 1905. Having won the Midlands Counties Cup every year from 1898 to 1905, they dropped out "to give other teams a chance".[10]

In 1903 Jack Miles became the first home produced England international, playing on the wing against Wales in Swansea. He had come to prominence scoring 43 tries in 52 appearances.[11]

Leicester's status as a premier club was confirmed in 1905 when a crowd of 20,000 was on hand to see the club face The Original All Blacks for the 5th game of their tour, despite losing 28-0 the club made an impression as four Tigers were called up by England for their test with the New Zealanders.[12]

Allegations of professionalism[edit]

Tour portraits of Smith, Jackson and Jackett

In 1908 the club had three players selected for the 1908 Anglo-Welsh tour of New Zealand. John Jackett, Tom Smith and Fred Jackson became the first Tigers selected for an overseas tour.[13] Controversy dogged Jackson; a secretive man it was claimed he had played for Northern Union side Swinton under the name "John Jones", such a charge was serious as it could have not only professionalised Jackson but all those who had associations with him. Jackson was withdrawn from the tour and settled in New Zealand.[14]

Allegations of veiled professionalism were levied at Leicester during the RFU's 1908 AGM and an inquiry ordered, though a vote to expel Leicester from the RFU was defeated. The inquiry was not only into professionalism but also the transfers of Jackson & Jackett as well as Alf Kewney and Tom Hogarth. On 30 January 1909, the day Leicester hosted an England v France test match, the RFU announced the outcome of the inquiry clearing the club on all charges in what has been described as a whitewash.[15]

As if to refute the notion that the Tigers were made up purely of imported players there were 12 locals selected for the 1909 Midland Counties Cup Final against Coventry. Tigers won the cup, the first time they had entered after a four-year absence, 8-3 with two tries from Percy Lawrie.[16]

December 1909 saw the beginning of a cherished tradition as Tigers played the Barbarians for the first time, holding them to a 9-9 draw. The fixture became a vital feature in the club's calendar delivering large attendances until open professionalism and league rugby in the 1990s forced it to gradually be abandoned due to fixture congestion.

Tigers won the Midlands Counties Cup 3 more times in 4 years to cement their place as the midland's premier side before the outbreak of war in 1914.

War and reconstruction of Welford Road[edit]

With war declared the Leicester committee suspended matches on 3 September 1914. Two charity matches were played against the Barbarians in 1915 but otherwise Tigers played no rugby for the duration of the war. 17 players from the club lost their lives during the war.[17][18]

Within 6 weeks of the Armistice being signed Tigers were playing their first game, facing the 4th battalion of the Leicestershire Regiment in what was also the official opening of the Members Stand on the north side of the ground.[19]

Tigers enjoyed their first full season back; winger Teddy Haselmere scored a club record 59 tries, no man before or since has even reached 40. At this time formations were not set in the way they are now and Tigers regularly played with 7 forwards and 8 backs, meaning overlaps for the wingers were plentiful.[20]

The New Stand (later renamed the Crumbie Stand in honour of Tom Crumbie) costing £21,000 (approx £850,000 in 2016) was officially opened on 2 October 1921 before a match against Headingley by the President of the RFU Ernest Prescott, Tigers celebrated with a 33-3 victory.[21]

Terracing was added in front of the new stand the next season and the Members Stand extended to give Welford Road a seated capacity of 10,250. Subscriptions for stand seats was 25 shillings (£50 in 2016 money) and unemployed men gained free entry to the end terraces on production of their out of work card.[22] These ground developments lead to attendances that would not be bettered until the 2000s as 20,000 fans watched the loss to Newport on 29 October 1921.[23]

Tourists in the 20s and the death of Tom Crumbie[edit]

Leicester's return match against Racing in February 1923

Leicester welcomed their first French visitors on 28 December 1922 when Racing club de France formed part of Tigers' Christmas festival, the hosts winning 4-0 thanks to a Haselmere drop goal. Tigers returned the visit in February 1923 but lost 19-9 despite scoring three tries.

The visit of the Invincible All Blacks on 4 October 1924 saw a record attendance at Welford Road of 35,000 that stands to this day.[24] Tigers were beaten 27-0 by the tourists but good things were still to come that season as Leicestershire won their only County Championship against Gloucestershire with the entire starting XV coming from the Tigers.

The next season saw a visit by the New Zealand Maori and a closer result, Tigers leading at half time 8-3 thanks to a try from Ewert Farndon and 5 points from the boot of Doug Prentice but eventually succumbing 15-13 to the Maori tourists.

In the 1926–27 season Leicester started using letters to identify their forwards; The Birmingham Post report for the match against Bath on 6 October 1926 noted "Leicester's forwards were picked out easily as their jerseys were decorated with large bold letters A-G",[25] expanding the practice by 1931–32 to the whole team.[26]

Tom Crumbie died on 13 March 1928, he was described as the cog around which the club functioned and contemporary reports say he epitomised the club. Tigers wore black armbands for their next fixture against Penarth. On 4 April the club appointed his successor Eric Thorneloe and six months later renamed The New Stand as The Crumbie Stand in honour of Crumbie.[27]

Personal honours as club's fortunes wane[edit]

Club captain Doug Prentice was given the honour of captaining the 1930 British Lions tour to New Zealand and Australia, alongside two Leicester team mates Joe Kendrew and George Beamish.[28] Irish forward Beamish played 21 games on the tour, the most of any player, and is credited with introducing the green of Ireland into the Lions playing kit.[29]

No doubt the presence of such star players lead the next season to the first BBC radio broadcast of a Tigers game. The match against Waterloo on 29 November 1930 was the first radio broadcast of a Leicester game; Tigers won 21-5.[30]

The Great Depression hit the club's gates hard. With no cup or league competitions attendances for friendly fixtures tumbled to a low of 346 against Bridgwater Albion in 1934.[31] It took the introduction of leagues in the 1980s before crowd numbers returned to their pre-depression level. The club's poor finances meant an invitation by Amatori Milano to tour Italy had to be declined.[32]

Personal honours for the players masked some of the decline though. Bernard Gadney became the club's first home produced England captain in 1934 and was captain when four Leicester players were part of the first England side to beat the All Blacks. Tigers winger Alexander Obolensky scored two tries on debut in the 13-0 win. Gadney also became the club's second player to captain the British Lions on their tour to Argentina where he was joined by Obolensky and Charles Beamish.

1936-37 was the worst season since 1889-90 for the club with only 14 wins from 39 matches.[33] Results picked up slightly the next two season before the Second World War intervened and regularly fixtures were abandoned for the next 5 years. 26 Tigers players lost their lives in the war.[34]

Post War move away from invitation side[edit]

Fifteen days after VE Day the club's committee held their first meeting to determine the future of the club. The roof of the Crumbie Stand had been damaged in air raids, there was a collapsed wall at the Welford Road end and significant repairs to the clubhouse were required where the Army had bored holes into the floor. The club ran two teams that year; the First XV and Leicestershire Harlequins, named for the war-time side that provided rugby for locals on leave or passing servicemen.[35]

The Harlequins were quickly changed to be an "A XV", the first time the club had run more than one side for 40 years. The decision was unpopular with the junior clubs that provided the bulk of the players for the side. It ran for ten seasons until being discontinued in 1955.[36]

In 1947 local winger Harry Sibson joined from Aylestonians and went on to play 183 games. Sibson is credited for the introduction of a new offside law at scrums. Sibson fulfilled many roles including club secretary and club president.[37][38][39]

Tigers first televised game by the BBC was on 3 February 1951 when they beat London Scottish 14-0 at the Richmond Athletic Ground; earlier that year Tigers had refused a request to televise the Barbarians game fearing it might affect the gate.[40]

Romania became the first international side to face Tigers for 25 years when they played on 8 September 1956. The game ended a 6-6 draw.[41]

The club underwent a significant restructure in the 1956/57 season. The practice of being an "invitation" club featuring only a First XV was to stop and Tigers were to adopt a more traditional membership club based approach with multiple sides. The "A XV" was to be re-introduced under the name "Extra First XV" with a third "Colts XV" also formed. With only on side the club had been suffering losing players because of a lack of regular rugby for those on the fringes of the starting side. Eric Thorneloe retired from his role of secretary at the end of the season giving the feel that this was the end of an era.[42]

Matthews' team breaks record and White appointed coach[edit]

In 1959 Tony O'Reilly and Phil Horrocks-Taylor were selected for the 1959 British Lions tour to Australia and New Zealand, the first since Gadney 23 years earlier. Horrocks-Taylor's influence is best shown by the 1960-61 season where the club won 17 of 22 matches with him in the side and only 7 of 20 without.[43]

The 1963-64 season saw 26 wins the most in 29 seasons but attendances were poor, only three games were watched by more than a thousand people and even the Barbarians fixture drew only 4,284.[44] The season also saw David Matthews set the record for most consecutive appearances for the club with 109.[45]

Matthews was to become captain in 1965 and in 1966/67 lead the club to a record 33 wins. The previous record had stood at 31 games since 1898.[46]

Chalkie White became coach in 1968; the same season Tom Berry became Leicester's first President of the RFU. White combined with captain Graham Willars to reform Tigers play in light of rule changes that summer which banned kicking directly to touch from outside your own 25 yard area and drastically reduced kicking. Tigers scored 122 tries and 657 points that season. Moves towards a return to competitive rugby were made with discussion held on leagues or a knock out cup. Tigers president Nick Hughes favoured regional pools before a national knock out tournament.[47]

Despite usually returning more wins than losses Leicester's standing at the time was not what it is now. Coventry had not been beaten for 16 years for instance, and international honours were limited.

Introduction of the National Cup and first Youth side[edit]

1970/71 saw Peter Wheeler emerge as first choice hooker having made his debut the year before, he ended the season on England's tour to the Far East. Attendance for the annual Barbarians game hit a nadir with a crowd of only 2,518.[48]

The 1971/72 season saw changes which, over time, would radically change both the club and the game. The RFU introduced for the first time a national Knockout Cup competition for clubs and on 16 November 1971 Tigers played their first competitive cup match since 1914, a 10-3 defeat to Nottingham at their Beeston ground.

Also introduced that season was Tigers' first "Youth" XV, based on the Leicester Ravens a collection of the best 14 and 15 year olds in the county. Their first game was on 15 April 1972 and they made an immediate impact, captain of that side was Steve Kenney who would score the winning try in the 1979 Cup Final. Only six year later Paul Dodge became the first graduate to win an international cap.[49]

Tigers attack was going from strength to strength recording their highest yet points total for a season in both 1971/72, 789, and in 1972/73 scoring 988 points. The previous record set in 1919/20 was 756. But defence was an issue conceding 40 points to both Coventry and Bath.[50] Tigers reached the quarter finals of the Cup in 1973.

11 September 1973 saw Tigers beat the touring Fijian national team 22-17 in front of a 12,000 crowd and on 3 October beat touring Australian Shute Shield champions Randwick 15-10. There was still no joy in the Cup with a first round defeat to Northampton also meaning Tigers failed to qualify the next season. Tigers fly half Alan Old started for England as they beat New Zealand in New Zealand for the first time[51] and then beat Australia at Twickenham.[52]

Cup success[edit]

Tigers were not involved in the 1974-75 Cup and lost in the 1st round of the 1975-76 Cup to Liverpool. This forced the club into the Midlands qualifiers for the only time. They beat Nottingham, local junior club Westleigh and Kettering to qualify for the 1976-77 Cup where a win against Wakefield lead to a second round defeat against Moseley.

This era saw a huge increase in the popularity of the Barbarians annual fixture which crowds of 15,000 in 1973 & 1975, 17,000 in 1974 and 21,000 in 1976. This contrasted with usual crowds in the low hundreds.[53]

1976-77 saw the introduction of regional "Merit Tables" by the RFU, the first step on the road to full leagues. Based around traditional fixtures Tigers faced Bedford, Birmingham, Coventry, Moseley, Northampton, Nuneaton, Nottingham and Rugby in the Midlands Merit Table finishing second to Moseley with a record of played 8 won 6.[54]

It took 6 years before Leicester were drawn at home in the cup but in 1977-78 they received four in a row beating Hartlepool Rovers, Rosslyn Park, Northampton and Coventry on their way to a first Twickenham final against Gloucester. The game ended in a 6-3 loss to the Cherry and Whites; the attendance was 25,282 more than double the previous season. Cup success also coincided with Tigers membership more than doubling from 750 in 1978 to 2,000 by the end of 1979.[55]

Home cup draws continued the next season as Northampton (29-3) and Broughton Park (30-7) were beaten at Welford Road. Bedford were beaten at Goldington Road in the quarter finals before Wasps were defeated 43-7 in the semi finals. The final was against perennial rivals Moseley and Steve Kenney scored with three minutes remaining to win it 15-12 for Leicester.

Tigers retained the cup in 1979-80 beating Orrell (16-7), Moseley (17-7), London Scottish and Harlequins in the early rounds before beating London Irish 21–9 in the final at Twickenham in front of a record crowd of 27,000.[56] 1979-80 also saw Tigers win the Midlands Merit Table for the first time with a record played 7 games and won 6 and provide four players in England's grandslam of 1980. Clive Woodward and Peter Wheeler were selected for the 1980 British Lions tour to South Africa, Paul Dodge joined them as an injury replacement and all three were selected for the third test defeat against the Springboks.

Centenary[edit]

To celebrate the club's centenary a 6 match tour to Australia and Fiji was arranged in August 1980, the first undertaken by an English club in the southern hemisphere. Tigers lost 22-12 to Queensland in their first match but recorded victories over Eastern Suburbs and Randwick before traveling to Fiji and winning 3 games.

Prestige fixtures staged at Welford Road to mark the centenary were the visit of the Irish Wolfhounds who were beaten 10-6; Romania who won 39-7, with Florică Murariu scoring 4 tries for the visitors and a return visit from Queensland who were beaten 21-9.

Tigers retained the Midlands Merit Table title in November with an undefeated record of played 7, won 6, drawn 1. On 25 April 1981 Tigers traveled to Moseley where Dusty Hare broke the world record for points scored in first class fixtures. His total of 3,658 over took the previous record held by Moseley's own Sam Doble.[57]

The cup was won again in 1980-81. Roundhay, Bristol and Sale were beaten in the early rounds; London Scottish in the semi finals became the first cup game to go to extra time before Les Cusworth kicked two drop goals to seal a fourth successive trip to Twickenham. Leicester scored three tries to beat Gosforth 22–15. This meant they were allowed to keep the trophy.

1980s to the beginning of league rugby[edit]

In the early 1980s league rugby was still a controversial idea when proposed by an RFU report in 1980 and met with mixed reaction honorary secretary Jerry Day foreseeing that "If a club wanted to compete .. in a league system it would have to become almost professional", whilst Wheeler thought leagues "long overdue".[58]

Tigers 18 match unbeaten run the cup was over in 1982 when the club lost to Moseley in the semi finals, the club wasn't to win the cup again until 1993 though there were finals in 1983 & 1989. This was also Chalkie White's last season with the club after 30 years as a player, administrator or coach.

In 1981 Tigers played Australia leading until the 78th minute only to lose 18-15;[59] this was the first visit by one of the three major southern hemisphere nations since 1924.

A new generation of players who were to shape the club made their debuts in the early '80s; Dean Richards in 1982 against Neath, John Wells in 1983 against Harlequins and Rory Underwood in 1983 against Birmingham.

Seven Leicester players were part of the Midlands side which defeated the All Blacks 19-13 at Welford Road in November 1983, with six player including captain Peter Wheeler named in the England side that also beat the tourists 15-9 at Twickenham.

Off the field the club were beginning to develop commercially, singing a 5-year sponsorship with brewers Ind Coope in 1984.[60]

In 1985 the penultimate step towards league rugby was taken as the John Smith's Merit Table A was launched. It was a national competition that featured the best sides from the four regional merit tables but was still based on old traditional fixtures; Tigers played 10 counting games in the first season whilst Harlequins played only 4.[61] The national merit tables ran for two season with the table based on win percentage to take account of the different numbers of games played; Gloucester and Bath each topped the table once, Tigers finished 4th and 2nd.

League rugby was finally launched in England in 1987. The main difference from the merit table was all sides would now have to play all other sides in a round robin, though a fixtures dispute meant the Tigers v Gloucester match was not played. Tigers hit the top of the league on 28 November following a 21-3 win away at Moseley and stayed there losing only one match all season. When they beat Waterloo in front of 7,130 supporters on the last day of the 1987-88 season, Easter Monday 4 April, the Tigers became England's first official champions.

Tigers finished the season on 37 points, one ahead of nearest rivals Wasps.

The 1988-89 Courage League saw Tigers slump to 6th in the league, their joint worst ever finish, but more joy was to be had in the Cup as Tigers beat Liverpool St Helens (37-6), Rosslyn Park (23-9), Wasps (22-18) and Quins (16-7) to set up a final with Bath. In what was Dusty Hare's 394th and last game for the club Tigers lead 6-0 at half time but lost 10-6 with Stuart Barnes scoring Bath's winning try in the 78th minute.[62]

Martin Johnson made his debut for the First XV in February 1989 whilst Les Cusworth retired at the end of the 1989/90 season. In August 1990 Leicester appointed their first paid official, Tony Russ had lead Saracens to promotion then 4th place in the league before accepting the role of "Director of Coaching" at Leicester.

Neil Back joined that summer and made his debut at home against Bedford, whist Graham Rowntree was promoted from the club's youth ranks and made his debut in October against Oxford University. The changing of the guard from Cup winning team of the early 80s was complete when Paul Dodge retired at the end of the 1990/91 season.

Nineties and Dean Richards era[edit]

The early 1990s saw the emergence of Leicester's renowned ABC Club, so called because of the letters the front row players wore on their shirts; Graham Rowntree played loosehead and wore "A", hooker Richard Cockerill wore "B" and Darren Garforth played tighthead prop and wore "C". The trio started 166 games together between 1992 and 2002, Garforth and Rowntree started another 72 games together at prop, but with different hookers.[63]

Leicester began one of the greatest winning streaks of any team. This streak started when a young pack helped Leicester to defeat Harlequins 23–16 in the 1993 cup final. They were English champions again in 1995, beat Sale 9-3 in the 1997 Pilkington Cup Final and were the first English team to get to the Heineken Cup final before losing to Brive in the same year. In the 1996 cup final, Tigers lost to Bath (who was just finishing its own great domination of English rugby) after referee Steve Lander gave a contentious penalty try in the last minute which sealed their victory. After the match Neil Back pushed over Lander landing himself a six-month ban.

From 1999 to 2002, under the captaincy of Martin Johnson and the management of Dean Richards, who became Director of Rugby for the club in February 1998, they won four consecutive Premiership titles and the first Zürich Championship play-offs,[64] bringing their total of league championships to six — tied with Bath for most wins.

On 28 August 1999 a record ten Tigers were capped for England in the World Cup warm up game against Canada.[65]

They also won the Heineken Cup in 2001 and 2002 — Leicester defeated Stade Français (34–30) in 2001, and Munster (15–9) in 2002.

Leicester during this time had a very good home record; they went 57 games unbeaten at home in a period that stretched from 30 December 1997 to 30 November 2002 and included 52 successive wins.[66] During these four seasons Leicester lost only 14 games out of the 92 they played.

In the 2003 Rugby World Cup, the club had seven representatives in the winning England squad: Martin Johnson (captain), Neil Back, Martin Corry, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody, Dorian West and Julian White. However while these players were away Leicester's form suffered, even with the returning players they were knocked out of that season's Heineken Cup in the group stages and were 12 points away from Heineken Cup qualification for the next season with 8 games remaining when they decided to sack Dean Richards.[67]

Post Richards era[edit]

Tom Croft made his debut in 2006 after coming though the club's academy

After Richards' departure Tigers turned to his assistant coach John Wells as temporary cover. Wells' tenure saw Tigers fortunes improve and Heineken Cup qualification for the next season secured. He was named as Richards' permanent successor on 28 April 2004 whilst Pat Howard and Richard Cockerill were announced as his assistant coaches.[68]

In John Wells' first full season in charge of the team Leicester finished the regular season top of the league, also progressing to the semi-final of the Heineken cup before defeat to Toulouse at the Walkers Stadium. In Martin Johnson and Neil Back's last game for Leicester they lost the Premiership Final to Wasps. After this game John Wells left Leicester to take up a position in the RFU's coaching academy,[69] eventually rising to England forwards coach.[70] He was succeeded by Pat Howard[71]

In 2005–06, the Tigers finished second to the Sale Sharks in the league before losing to the same team in the Premiership final. They again proceeded to the knockout stages of the Heineken Cup, again they lost at the Walkers Stadium to Bath. In the new Anglo-Welsh Cup Leicester won their group but lost in the semi-finals to Wasps at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, Wales.

Over the summer of 2006 the core of a new pack was recruited especially Jordan Crane, the Number 8, who arrived from Leeds; Martin Castrogiovanni joined from Calvisano and Marcos Ayerza joined from domestic rugby in his native Argentina. Tom Croft also made his debut this season after coming through the club's academy system.

Leicester won their first piece of silverware for five years on 15 April 2007, beating the Ospreys 41–35 with tries from Tom Varndell, Tom Croft, Ben Kay and Alesana Tuilagi to win the EDF Energy Cup at Twickenham Stadium. This was quickly repeated with Premiership success on 12 May at Twickenham with a 44–16 win over Gloucester. However Leicester failed to win an unprecedented treble, by losing the Heineken Cup Final at Twickenham on 20 May to Wasps.

It was announced on 28 December 2006 that the head coach Pat Howard would leave the club at the end of the season, to return to his native Australia.[72] He was succeeded by the then-head coach of Argentina, Marcelo Loffreda after the 2007 Rugby World Cup.[73] Loffreda guided Leicester through the group stages of the EDF cup to the semi final where they defeated Wasps in a knock-out game for the first time since the 1980s. This set up a rematch of the previous years final against the Ospreys, which Leicester lost. After losing all away games in the Heineken Cup that season Leicester failed to progress to the quarter finals. In the league Leicester struggled until a last minute last day try by Tom Varndell beat Harlequins to set up a rematch of the previous seasons Premiership Final against Gloucester. Once again Leicester were successful late on, this time utilising Andy Goode's kicking to secure a last minute victory. In the final they had no such luck losing to perennial rivals Wasps. After this final; despite guiding Leicester to two Twickenham finals and only being in the job seven-months Loffreda was sacked.[74]

Cockerill takes the reins[edit]

Geordan Murphy, pictured in 2012, played 322 games for Leicester between 1997 and 2013. He is the most decorated player in the club's history with 8 Premiership titles, 2 European titles and 2 Anglo-Welsh cups.

Heyneke Meyer was the board's choice to replace Loffreda, however unfortunate family circumstances led to his resignation.[75] Richard Cockerill took over until the end of the season, having guided Leicester to a home Heineken Cup quarter final against Bath. He was appointed head coach on 17 April 2009[76] and promoted to Director of Rugby on 19 July 2010[77] following Leicester's second Premiership title in as many years.

On Sunday 3 May 2009 Leicester Tigers made history in their Heineken cup semi-final against Cardiff when for the first time in the competitions history a place kicking competition was required to decide the outcome. The teams were drawing 26–26 after normal time and there was no score during extra time. Leicester won this 7–6 after backrow forwards Newby and Crane both succeeded with their kicks at goal.[78]

In the 2009 Premiership final Leicester beat London Irish (10–9), with a try from Crane and 5 points from the boot of Dupuy.[79] The following week Leicester lost the Heineken Cup final in Edinburgh to Irish province Leinster, containing former Leicester favourites captain Leo Cullen and openside Shane Jennings.

On Friday 6 November 2009 Leicester hosted the world champion Springboks[80] to mark the opening of the new stand on the north side of the ground. In a tight and compelling match a young Leicester side triumphed 22–17, with a try from Lucas González Amorosino and 17 points from scrum half Ben Youngs.

Tigers retained their Premiership title on 30 May 2010 as they defeated Saracens 33–27, coming back from behind 5 times in the match the win was secured by a crucial late try scored by Dan Hipkiss.[81]

Domestic success continued with Tigers reaching Premiership finals but losing in 2011 and 2012, against Saracens and Harlequins respectively. Silverware was still secured in 2012 though by winning the LV Cup against Northampton at Worcester's Sixways Stadium.[82][83] The competition was not viewed as highly as it was when Tigers won in 2007; it was primarily played on international game weekends and the final was no longer at Twickenham and held during the Six Nations.

In 2013 Tigers won their record extending 10th English title defeating local rivals Northampton Saints 37–17 at Twickenham despite losing fly half Toby Flood to injury in the first half. Tries from Niall Morris, Graham Kitchener, Manu Tuilagi and Vereniki Goneva sealed the match, with the final three tries coming after Northampton hooker Dylan Hartley's red card for verbally abusing referee Wayne Barnes.[84]

Northampton gained their revenge the next year beating Tigers 21-20 in the Premiership semi final at Franklin's Gardens.[85] Tigers qualified for the play offs the next two years but suffered heavy away defeats to Bath (47-10)[86] and Saracens (44-17).[87]

Leicester hold the record for most Premiership titles (10), the most consecutive Premiership Final appearances (9) and the most Play off appearances (12). They were the first team to achieve an away semi-final victory in the Premiership play-offs (against Gloucester at Kingsholm on 18 May 2008).

Season Summary[edit]

Season League Domestic Cup European Cup
Competition Position Points Play Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
2015–16 Premiership 4th 65 Semi Final None N/A Champions Cup Semi Final
2014–15 Premiership 3rd 68 Semi Final LV Cup Semi-Final Champions Cup Group Stage
2013–14 Premiership 3rd 74 Semi Final LV Cup Group Stage Heineken Cup Quarter Final
2012–13 Premiership 2nd 74 Champions LV Cup Group Stage Heineken Cup Quarter Final
2011–12 Premiership 2nd 74 Finalist LV Cup Champions Heineken Cup Group Stage
2010–11 Premiership 1st 78 Finalist LV Cup Group Stage Heineken Cup Quarter Final
2009–10 Premiership 1st 73 Champions LV Cup Group Stage Heineken Cup Group Stage
2008–09 Premiership 1st 71 Champions EDF Energy Cup Group Stage Heineken Cup Finalist
2007–08 Premiership 4th 64 Finalist EDF Energy Cup Finalist Heineken Cup Group Stage
2006–07 Premiership 2nd 71 Champions EDF Energy Cup Champions Heineken Cup Finalist
2005–06 Premiership 2nd 68 Finalist Powergen Cup Semi Final Heineken Cup Quarter Final
2004–05 Premiership 1st 78 Finalist Powergen Cup 6th Round Heineken Cup Semi Final
2003–04 Premiership 5th 55 Wildcard Winner Powergen Cup 6th Round Heineken Cup Group Stage
2002–03 Premiership 6th 55 Wildcard Winner Powergen Cup Semi Final Heineken Cup Quarter Final
2001–02 Premiership 1st 83 Quarter Final* Powergen Cup Quarter Final Heineken Cup Champions
2000–01 Premiership 1st 81 Champions* Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi Final Heineken Cup Champions
1999–2000 Premiership 1st 51 Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th Round Heineken Cup Group Stage
1998–99 Premiership 1st 44 Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter Final Did Not Enter N/A
1997–98 Premiership 4th 26 Tetley's Bitter Cup 5th Round Heineken Cup Quarter Final
1996–97 Courage League 4th 29 Pilkington Cup Champions Heineken Cup Finalist
1995–96 Courage League 2nd 30 Pilkington Cup Finalist
1994–95 Courage League 1st 31 Pilkington Cup Semi Final
1993–94 Courage League 2nd 28 Pilkington Cup Finalist
1992–93 Courage League 3rd 18 Pilkington Cup Champions
1991–92 Courage League 6th 13 Pilkington Cup Semi Final
1990–91 Courage League 4th 16 Pilkington Cup 4th Round
1989–90 Courage League 5th 12 Pilkington Cup Quarter Final
1988–89 Courage League 6th 13 Pilkington Cup Finalist
1987–88 Courage League 1st 37 John Player Cup 4th Round
1986–87 National Merit A 2nd 75% John Player Cup Semi Final
1985–86 National Merit A 4th 70% John Player Cup Semi Final
1984–85 National Merit A
Midlands Merit
6th
3rd
42.9%
85.7%
John Player Cup Quarter Final
1983–84 Midlands Merit 1st 100% John Player Cup 3rd Round
1982–83 Midlands Merit 1st 100% John Player Cup Finalist
1981–82 Midlands Merit 1st 85.7% John Player Cup Semi Final
1980–81 Midlands Merit 1st 92.9% John Player Cup Champions
1979–80 Midlands Merit 1st 85.7% John Player Cup Champions
1978–79 Midlands Merit 2nd 85.7% John Player Cup Champions
1977–78 Midlands Merit 5th 62.5% John Player Cup Finalist
1976–77 Midlands Merit 2nd 75% John Player Cup 2nd Round
1975–76 John Player Cup 1st Round
1974–75 John Player Cup Did not qualify
1973–74 John Player Cup 1st Round
1972–73 John Player Cup Quarter Final
1971–72 John Player Cup 1st Round

* In 2001 & 2002 the winners of the league were considered champions with the winners of the play offs considered champions from 2003 onward

Name and colours[edit]

Nickname[edit]

Martin Johnson and Graham Rowntree in Tigers traditional colours during the friendly match vs. Bath in 2007.

The club's formal name is Leicester Football Club but is widely known by the nickname "Tigers". The first known use of the name was after a game against Bedford School in February 1885, the Leicester Daily Post reporting that "the Tiger stripes were keeping well together".[88] The origin of the nickname is uncertain most probably coming from the side's chocolate and yellow playing kit, but it may have come from the club's links to the Leicestershire Regiment,[89] who had received the nickname 'Tigers' after serving in India, and from 1825 had worn a cap-badge with a 'royal' tiger to mark the connection.

In their early years the side were also known as "The Death or Glory Boys" on account of their black shirts.[90]

Colours[edit]

Tigers' very first kit was black with white shorts and black socks, the shirt had the club's crest in the centre of the chest. From 1884 to 1887 the club played in chocolate and yellow shirts, likely giving rise to the club's nickname, white shorts and black socks before experimenting with claret and French grey horizontal stripes between 1887 and 1891.[91]

The first use of the iconic scarlet, green and white was on 3 October 1891 against Wolverton at Belgrave Cricket & Cycle Ground. However, for the 1891/92 season the pattern was vertical stripes.[92] It was not until 1895 that the now traditional scarlet, green and white horizontal stripes were introduced to the jersey, paired with black shorts and socks until 1906.[93] Tigers then played three season between 1906 and 1909 in white shirts with navy shorts, the first two season with a leaping Tiger logo on the left breast[94] before reverting to scarlet, green and white striped jersey but keeping the navy shorts. This new kit layout lasted until 1947 when the navy shorts were swapped for white.

Tigers kit and colours did not materially change between 1947 and 1999, only slight variations in the sizes of the stripes, the addition of a manufacturer's logo in 1975, a sponsor in 1988 and in 1991 the addition of the club crest for the first time since 1908.

In 1999 Tigers switched to a darker green and have played in a variety of kit designs since.

1880-84
1884-87
1887-91
1891-95
1895-1906
1906-09
1906-47
1947-99

Summary of kit manufacturers and sponsors[edit]

Seasons Manufacturer Sponsor
1991–92 Cotton
Oxford
None
1992-93 Ansells
1993-95 Tetley Bitter
1995-96 GoldStar
1996-97 Cotton
Traders
1997-99 Next
1999-2002 Vauxhall
2002-08 Bradstone
2008-2012 Caterpillar
2012-15 Canterbury
2015-16 KooGa
2016-17 Holland and Barrett

Current Kit[edit]

Current Kit

Tigers current kit was launched on 30 July 2016[95] and sees a return to the design worn between 1947 and 1999 as green, red and white stripes are pared with white shorts and black socks, with a green, red and white top. On 4 July 2016 it was announced that Holland and Barrett would be the main shirt sponsors;[96] other sponsors are Breedon Aggregates[97] who take a patch on the collarbone, Fischer Future Heat[98] who take a box above the players' number and Stihl[99] who take a patch on the sleeve.

Premiership play-offs[edit]

Leicester Tigers playing against Leinster in 2008.

Leicester have participated in the last 12 Premiership Play Offs, reaching nine consecutive finals between 2005 and 2013. The run ended when Leicester lost to a late Northampton try in the 2014 semi finals.

Leicester finished first in the league table in 2004–05 going directly to the final; in Martin Johnson & Neil Back's last game for the club they lost 43–19 to Wasps. The following season Tigers finished second beating London Irish 40–8 in their first ever Play Off semi final before once again losing the final, this time to Sale who won 45–20 in wet conditions.

On 5 May 2007, Leicester defeated Bristol 26–14 to reach the Premiership play-off final for the third consecutive year, where they defeated Gloucester 44–16 at Twickenham to win their first ever title via the playoffs.[100] On 18 May 2008 Leicester defeated Gloucester at Kingsholm to become the first team to win a Premiership semi-final playoff away from home. However this season also ended in defeat as Wasps won their sixth title, fourth via the play-offs.

In 2008–09 Tigers again topped the table and faced Bath in the semi final winning 24–10. The final was the closest yet, Tigers defeated London Irish by a single point thanks to Jordan Crane's try and five points from Julien Dupuy. A year later Richard Cockerill's side retained the trophy with a 33–27 win against Saracens, Dan Hipkiss scored the decisive try in the closing stages.

Tigers reached the 2010–11 final for a rematch with Saracens which saw a record breaking seven minutes overtime played during which Leicester went through 32 phases camped on the Saracens try line before conceding a penalty which awarded Saracens their revenge for the previous years defeat.

2011–12 saw Tigers finish second in the table and face Saracens in the semi finals at Welford Road. Inspired by George Ford and with tries from Steve Mafi and Alesana Tuilagi Leicester were able to beat the Londoners 24–15 to meet Harlequins in the final. Ford was unable to reproduce his semi final form and Nick Evans and Chris Robshaw inspired Quins to their maiden Premiership triumph.

Leicester finished 2nd in 2012–13 season playing Harlequins in a 33–16 win for the Tigers, to secure a place in the final and their ninth successive Premiership final, as well as this being their 13th Successive Semi-Final win in all competitions. Defeat of Northampton, 37–17, at the 2013 final means that Tigers achieved a record tenth Premiership title.[101]

These nine consecutive finals is a record for consecutive appearances in a play-off final under the current format.

Stadium[edit]

The North stand

The club plays its home games at Welford Road Stadium. The ground was opened in 1892 and the first stands accommodated 3,000 spectators.[102] The clubhouse was built on the Aylestone Road end in 1909,[103] giving the curious situation of Welford Road Stadium's address being on the Aylestone Road. The Members' & Crumbie Stands were built just before and just after the First World War respectively. A stand was built at the Welford Road end in 1995, initially called the Alliance & Leicester Stand it is currently known as the Mattioli Woods Stand.[104] The total ground capacity is currently 25,849 after the north stand (Members' Stand originally) was redeveloped in 2008 and Clubhouse stand in 2016, see below.

The newly opened clubhouse stand is a new all seating stand replacing the original clubhouse and an 1980s extension at the Aylestone Road end. Costing £6.7m the new stand has 2,917 spaces for general admittance & 190 executive seats.[105] Replacing a temporary stand housing 992 places it has brought the capacity of the stadium to 26,000. The stand is currently known as the Robin Hood Stand due to a sponsorship agreement with Nottingham Building Society.[106]

Before redevelopment of Welford Road began in 2008 the club explored many other options. On 23 November 2004 the club announced that it had entered into a 50–50 joint venture with the city's main football club, Leicester City, to purchase City's current ground, Walkers Stadium. If the purchase had gone through, the Tigers would have surrendered their lease on Welford Road and moved into Walkers Stadium.[107] However, after several months of talks, the two clubs could not agree as to which side would have priority at Walkers Stadium, and they ended any ground share plans in July 2005.[108]

On 11 June 2007 the club announced plans that it was working with AFL, who were involved in redeveloping Manchester United's Old Trafford, for a redevelopment plan which would raise the capacity from 17,498 to 25,000 by 2011.[109]

On 20 February 2008 Leicester Tigers received planning consent for the £60million redevelopment of their Welford Road home.The first phase of the development would include space for 10,000 supporters in a new North Stand (Granby Halls side), taking capacity up from 17,498 to 24,000. After full renovation it will have a capacity of above 30,000.[110]

In the summer of 2008 work began on the construction of the new North Stand – then called the "Caterpillar Stand" after the club's main sponsor, Caterpillar Inc., currently known as the Holland and Barrett Stand again due to sponsorship.[111] The work was completed for the first home game of the 2009-10 season against Newcastle Falcons.[112] The stand has room for 10,000 spectators along with a 1,000 seat hospitality suite. On the ground floor is the Final Whistle bar where no ticket is required for entry.[113]

At the end of the 2008–09 season three home games were played at the King Power Stadium, then known as the Walkers Stadium, due to demolition of the old north stand. These saw Tigers play Bath twice, a dramatic 20-15 win in the Heineken Cup quarter finals and a victory in the Premiership Play Off semi finals as well as a 73–3 demolition of Bristol. Tigers have also played two Heineken Cup Semi Final games at the King Power Stadium, against Toulose and Llanelli Scarlets, but the ground was designated as a neutral venue for both.

Current squad[edit]

2016-17

First Team squad[edit]

Source:[114] Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Greg Bateman Hooker England England
George McGuigan Hooker England England
Harry Thacker Hooker England England
Tom Youngs Hooker England England
Marcos Ayerza Prop Argentina Argentina
Fraser Balmain Prop England England
Riccardo Brugnara Prop Italy Italy
Pat Cilliers Prop South Africa South Africa
Dan Cole Prop England England
Ellis Genge Prop England England
Logovi'i Mulipola Prop Samoa Samoa
Michele Rizzo Prop Italy Italy
Dominic Barrow Lock England England
Michael Fitzgerald Lock New Zealand New Zealand
Graham Kitchener Lock England England
Ed Slater Lock England England
Harry Wells Lock England England
Tom Croft Flanker England England
Will Evans Flanker England England
Tomás Leonardi Flanker Argentina Argentina
Brendon O'Connor Flanker New Zealand New Zealand
Will Owen Flanker England England
Mike Williams Flanker Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
Luke Hamilton Number 8 Wales Wales
Lachlan McCaffrey Number 8 Australia Australia
Player Position Union
Sam Harrison Scrum-half England England
Jono Kitto Scrum-half New Zealand New Zealand
Ben Youngs Scrum-half England England
Oliver Bryant Fly-half England England
Freddie Burns Fly-half England England
Owen Williams Fly-half Wales Wales
George Catchpole Centre England England
Jack Roberts Centre Wales Wales
Matt Smith Centre England England
Matt Toomua Centre Australia Australia
Manu Tuilagi Centre England England
Peter Betham Wing Australia Australia
Tom Brady Wing England England
JP Pietersen Wing South Africa South Africa
Adam Thompstone Wing England England
Mathew Tait Fullback England England
Telusa Veainu Fullback Tonga Tonga

Development squad[edit]

Source:[115] Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Ben Betts Prop Ireland Ireland
Owen Hills Prop England England
Harry Mahoney Hooker England England
Joe Maksymiw Lock England England
Sam Lewis Lock England England
Fred Tuilagi Number 8 Samoa Samoa
Player Position Union
Harry Simmons Scrum-half England England
Ben White Scrum-half England England
Charlie Thacker Centre England England
Jordan Olowofela Wing England England
Ryan Olowofela Wing England England
Sam Yawayawa Wing England England
George Worth Fullback England England

Current England Elite squad[edit]

Source:[116]

Notable former players[edit]

Internationals[edit]

136 players from 13 different nations have been selected to represent their national side whilst a member of Leicester. The first was Jack Miles who was selected for England in 1903, Leicester's first non-English international was Scotland's Jock Lawrie in 1924. The club's first non-British or Irish player selected for international duty was Canada's Dave Lougheed when he played against USA in August 1998.


 Logo Lions Rugby.svg Lions Tourists[edit]

The following are players which have represented the Lions, whilst playing for Leicester:

3 Tours:

2 Tours:

1 Tour

Italics denote a player who appeared on another tour whilst a member of another club.

2013: Ben Youngs, Tom Youngs, Manu Tuilagi, Geoff Parling, Dan Cole
2009: Harry Ellis
2005: Julian White, Ben Kay, Lewis Moody, Geordan Murphy, Ollie Smith
2001: Dorian West
1997: Will Greenwood, Eric Miller
1993: Tony Underwood
1983: Dusty Hare
1980: Paul Dodge
1974: Alan Old
1971: Rodger Arneil
1959: Tony O'Reilly, Phil Horrocks-Taylor
1936: Bernard Gadney, Alexander Obolensky, Charles Beamish
1930: Doug Prentice, George Beamish, Joe Kendrew
1910: Ken Wood
1908: F.S. Jackson, John Jackett, Tom Smith
1903: Alfred Hind

Rugby World Cup[edit]

The following are players which have represented their countries at the Rugby World Cup, whilst playing for Leicester:

Tournament
Number of
players selected
Players
1987 2 Dean Richards England, Rory Underwood England
1991 2 Dean Richards England, Rory Underwood England
1995 6 Neil Back England, Martin Johnson England, Dean Richards England, Graham Rowntree England, Rory Underwood England, Tony Underwood England
1999 11 Dave Lougheed Canada, Neil Back England, Richard Cockerill England, Martin Corry England, Darren Garforth England, Will Greenwood England, Austin Healey England, Martin Johnson England, Leon Lloyd England, Graham Rowntree England, Fritz van Heerden South Africa
2003 8 Neil Back England, Martin Corry England, Martin Johnson England, Ben Kay England, Lewis Moody England, Julian White England, Dorian West England, Dan Lyle United States
2007 11 Marcos Ayerza Argentina, George Chuter England, Martin Corry England, Dan Hipkiss England, Ben Kay England, Lewis Moody England, Seru Rabeni Fiji, Geordan Murphy Ireland, Martin Castrogiovanni Italy, Alesana Tuilagi Samoa, Jim Hamilton Scotland
2011 12 Marcos Ayerza Argentina, Horacio Agulla Argentina, Dan Cole England, Tom Croft England, Louis Deacon England, Toby Flood England, Manu Tuilagi England, Thomas Waldrom England, Ben Youngs England, Geordan Murphy Ireland, Martin Castrogiovanni Italy, Alesana Tuilagi Samoa
2015 8 Marcos Ayerza Argentina, Dan Cole England, Ben Youngs England, Tom Youngs England, Vereniki Goneva Fiji, Leonardo Ghiraldini Italy, Michele Rizzo Italy, Opeti Fonua Tonga

International captains[edit]

Source:[117]

* Martin Corry was also captain for the majority of a Lions test in 2005 after Brian O'Driscoll left the field injured, however he is not considered the official captain for that match.

Captains[edit]

The following have been appointed club captain:

Coaches[edit]

Current Coaches[edit]

Past Coaches[edit]

Correct as of 26 November 2016

Name Nat. From To P W D L Win% Honours
Bob Dwyer  Australia July 1996 14 February 1998 70 52 1 17 74.26 1997 Pilkington Cup
Dean Richards  England 22 Feb 1998 2 Feb 2004 209 138 6 65 66.03 1998–99 Premiership, 1999–00 Premiership, 2000–01 Premiership, 2000–01 Zurich Championship, 2000–01 Heineken Cup, 2001–02 Premiership, 2001–02 Heineken Cup
John Wells  England 3 Feb 2004 14 May 2005 45 31 5 9 68.88
Pat Howard  Australia July 2005 20 May 2007 75 49 4 22 65.33 2006–07 Premiership, 2006–07 Anglo Welsh Cup
Richard Cockerill (Caretaker)  England July 2007 3 November 2007 8 5 0 3 62.50
Marcelo Loffreda  Argentina 10 November 2007 31 May 2008 27 15 0 12 55.55
Heyneke Meyer  South Africa July 2008 24 January 2009 21 13 1 7 61.90
Richard Cockerill  England 15 February 2009 Present 271 176 11 84 64.94 2008–09 Premiership, 2009–10 Premiership, 2011-12 Anglo-Welsh Cup, 2012–13 Premiership

Honours[edit]

Minor Honours[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]