Four Rugby League legends to enter Hall of Fame
The RFL is delighted to announce that four of the greatest players in Rugby League’s history are to be inducted into the sport’s most exclusive club, the RL Hall of Fame.
The inductions will take place at the Rugby World Cup 2013 Celebration Dinner at Huddersfield on Friday November 1 when the quartet will have their places alongside the 17 existing members of the game’s pantheon confirmed.
The four new inductees will be joined at the dinner by some of the six living members of the Hall of Fame, including Neil Fox MBE and Billy Boston MBE, who have already confirmed their attendance.
The inductions are the first to take place since 2005 and RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood believes the timing of the ceremony is perfect with the sport in the midst of the thrilling Rugby League World Cup 2013: the following day, Saturday November 2, sees England play Ireland in front of a capacity crowd at John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield.
“It is right and proper that we elect our greatest players to the Hall of Fame at a time when the stars of today are striving for glory in RLWC2013,” said Wood.
“It is 25 years since the first players were inducted into the Hall of Fame and there are some truly wonderful individuals in there: I am sure that the four new inductees will be worthy additions to this exclusive and prestigious club.”
The four new inductees were identified by a specially-convened selection panel comprised of experienced journalists, broadcasters and administrators. The identities of the new inductees will be announced on Wednesday October 30.
Membership of the Rugby League Hall of Fame is restricted exclusively to the greatest Rugby League players of all time.
Each player must have:
• A record of outstanding achievement at the very highest levels of the game;
• A reputation that transcends the era in which he played;
• Made a contribution to the game that will last as long as rugby league is played.
To be eligible for nomination to the Hall of Fame, players must have:
• Played professional Rugby League in the UK for at least 10 years;
• Played his last professional match in the UK at least 10 years before the date of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The RL Hall of Fame inductions will take place as part of a dinner organised in association with RL Cares, Huddersfield Heritage and the Men of League Foundation which will be a celebration of the sport’s history and international heritage.
As well as speeches from some of Rugby League’s most celebrated figures, the event will feature a special display of the RFL’s archive including some of the very early documents relating to the founding of the sport back in 1895.
The 17 current members of the RL Hall of Fame are as follows:
Eric Ashton MBE (1950-1975 era, inducted 2005)
Eric Ashton’s impact on Rugby League was huge. He was the first Rugby League player to be recognised in the Queen’s honours, awarded an MBE in 1966. Before then he made 497 appearances for Wigan, lifted the Challenge Cup as a coach with both Wigan and St. Helens, and lifted the World Cup as Great Britain captain in 1960.
His record at club level was impressive, as he built a strong relationship with fellow Hall of Famer Billy Boston on the field for Wigan. In his 497 Wigan appearances he scored 231 tries and 448 goals. His international record saw him make 26 appearances for Britain.
Billy Batten (1895-1920 era, inducted 1988)
Billy Batten was one of the big stars of Rugby League in the early twentieth century. He joined Hull FC in 1913 and, according to legend, Hull would announce that their most popular player was a certainty to play in order to attract crowds to The Boulevard.
He started his career with Hunslet before transferring to Hull FC in 1913 for £600, double the previous record, and was said to be earning £14 match pay – an enormous amount for the time. He also represented England and toured with Great Britain to Australia and New Zealand in 1910.
Brian Bevan (1950-1975 era, inducted 1988)
The Rugby League Hall of Fame Souvenir Brochure of 1989 described Brian Bevan as: “The very antithesis of the archetypal rugby player – balding, bony and invariably heavily bandaged…his eccentric, electric wing play was characterised by breath-taking pace, amazing elusiveness and bewildering bodyswerve.”
Bevan scored a world record 796 tries (470 for Warrington) in the mid-twentieth century. For Warrington he scored a hat-trick or more in a game over 100 times, and scored seven tries in a single game twice. Whilst also at Warrington, he won two Challenge Cups, three Rugby League championships, six Lancashire League and one Lancashire Cup title.
Billy Boston MBE (1950-1975 era, inducted 1988)
Throughout its history, Rugby League has had few bigger players than Billy Boston. Known for his ability to score tries from seemingly anywhere on the field, Boston’s career try record of 571 in 565 games is bettered only by fellow Hall of Famer Brian Bevan.
Boston is a Wigan legend, still holding the all-time try-scorer record. He scored 478 for them between 1953 and 1968, in just under 500 appearances. He also made over 30 appearances for England, scoring 24 tries.
Douglas Clark MM (1895-1920 era, inducted 2005)
Douglas Clark was a three-time Challenge Cup champion and seven-time Yorkshire Cup champion with Huddersfield, represented England and Great Britain and became a world heavyweight wrestling champion. Clark also served in World War One on the front line in France in 1917, earning the Military Medal for his deeds.
He is a Huddersfield legend, and still holds the club’s all-time appearances record with 485 games played between 1909 and 1929. After returning from military service, Clark earned a place in the 1920 Great Britain touring side to Australia, with the most memorable match of his nine-year international career being the Rorke’s Drift Test in Sydney on July 4 1914, which Great Britain won 14-6 despite playing with only 10 men.
Neil Fox MBE (1950-1975 era, inducted 1989)
Neil Fox represented a plethora of sides in his Rugby League career, though is perhaps best known for two spells with Wakefield Trinity, appearing nearly 500 times for them. He made 30 appearances on the international stage for England and Great Britain and his career spanned 23 years, from 1956-1979.
Although know as one of the best goal-kickers in the game (he scored 93 international goals and scored 228 points for Great Britain) Fox also has an impressive try-scoring record for a non-winger, having scored touched down 358 times.
Ellery Hanley MBE (1975-2000 era, inducted 2005)
In 1990 Ellery Hanley was awarded an MBE for his services to Rugby League, after a playing career which spanned 19 years, including spells at Bradford Northern, Wigan, Balmain, Western Suburbs and Leeds, and a coaching career with Great Britain, St Helens and Doncaster. In 2007 he was voted as the greatest Rugby League player of all time.
He also represented Great Britain 34 times and it was in January 1990 that he was honoured by The Queen for his services to Rugby League. He was also named as the Man of Steel on three occasions, collecting the award in 1985, 1987 and 1989.
Martin Hodgson (1920-1950 era, inducted 2005)
Martin Hodgson was a goal-kicking second row who made his name in the early-mid twentieth century. He still holds the long distance penalty goal record with a kick of 77.75 yards for Swinton against Rochdale Hornets at the Athletic Grounds, Rochdale in April, 1940. After signing for Swinton aged 17, he became an important player for the
club throughout the 1920s.
He also went on to make a number of international appearances, touring Australasia in 1932 and 1936. He is also the only British forward to appear in five Ashes-winning squads, achieving the accolade between 1929 and 1937.
Vince Karalius (1920-1950, inducted 2000)
Vince Karalius’s career spanned from 1952-1966 as the loose forward made his name with St. Helens and Widnes. He was part of the Great Britain squad which won the Rugby League World Cup in 1960 and it was on tour in Australia that his reputation was also enhanced as a strong runner with the ball and devastating tackler.
He retired in 1966 after having made 132 appearances for Widnes, after having made 252 for St Helens. He was captain for St Helens’s Challenge Cup victory in 1961, and played in the first Saints team to win the Cup, five years previously. In 1961 he was part of another Wembley win, this time with Widnes, before reaching two more finals as coach in two spells at Widnes.
Roger Millward MBE (1975-200 era, inducted 2000)
Roger Millward enjoyed a Rugby League career that spanned from 1964-1980. He made his name at Castleford, making 40 appearances for the club before moving to Hull KR where he became one of the club’s all-time legends. He received an MBE in 1983.
For Rovers he made 406 appearances, scored 207 tries, 597 goals and accumulated 1,825 points. He also guided Hull KR to their only Challenge Cup final win, as the club beat city rivals Hull FC 10-5 in 1980, during which Millward played the majority of the match with a broken jaw.
Alex Murphy OBE (1950-1975 era, inducted 1988)
Murphy played from 1956-1975 and made over 500 professional appearances, 319 for St. Helens. He is generally considered as one of the greatest half-backs ever to play the British game. This recognised by his 27-Test career, during which he toured Australia twice and was part of Great Britain’s World Cup winning team of 1960.
He also had a long coaching career and was awarded an OBE for his services to the game in 1998. He also features in the St Helens and Warrington Wolves Hall of Fames.
Jonty Parkin (1920-1950 era, inducted 1988)
Jonty Parkin was a scrum-half whose career spanned the early twentieth century, from 1913-1932. Parkin won nearly 30 international caps for England and Great Britain whilst at Wakefield Trinity – the club for whom he appeared just under 350 times.
He toured Australia three times, captaining the side in 1924 and 1928, and guided Great Britain to two Ashes wins. His spell as international captain spanned nine years until he voluntarily gave it up. He spent his last two professional years at Hull KR after astonishingly paying his own £100 transfer to join the Hull club.
Gus Risman (1920-1950 era, inducted 1988)
Gus Risman’s career spanned a quarter of a decade. He was 41 when he won a second Challenge Cup in 1952 and won three championships with Salford as a player. He played in five Ashes series, home and away in 1932, 1933, 1936, 1937 and 1946 (the last aged 35 – another record).
He captained Wales and Great Britain many time during 36 internationals and Tests, and captained the touring Lions in Australia in 1946. His phenomenal all-round record is testament to a true great: 843 appearances, 1,678 goals kicked and 4,050 points scored.
Albert Rosenfeld (1895-1920 era, inducted 1988)
Albert Rosenfeld started his career playing for Eastern Suburbs in Australia, making his way into the Australian national team. It is lucky he did, as it was on tour that he met his future, English wife, and joined Huddersfield. He scored a record 77 tries in the 1911-12 season, and bettered it by scoring 80 two seasons later.
During his time at Huddersfield, Rosenfeld won 17 major competitions, and by the time his career ended, after spells with Wakefield Trinity and Bradford Northern, he had scored 386 tries in 378 matches.
Jim Sullivan (1920-1950 era, inducted 1988)
Full-back Jim Sullivan’s longevity was highlighted by the span of his Rugby League playing career, which lasted 25 years, from 1921 to 1946. He joined Wigan as a 17-year-old and ended his playing days having appeared in 928 games and kicked 2,867 goals – more than anyone else. He represented Wales on 26 occasions and Great Britain 25 times, touring Australia three times between 1924 and 1932.
He also holds the unique record of having landed a century of goals in 18 consecutive seasons before the Second World War interrupted his career. He also once landed 22 goals in a single Challenge Cup tie against Flimby and Fothergill in 1925.
Tom Van Vollenhoven (1950-1975 era, inducted 2000)
Tom Van Vollenhoven is the only South African representative in the Hall of Fame. Playing on the wing, he became a St Helens legend and appeared for them on over 400 occasions, scoring just under 400 tries.
Van Vollenhoven left his mark on St Helens by claiming a number of the club’s records, including most tries scored in a match (six on two occasions – against Wakefield Trinity in 1957 and Blackpool Borough in 1962), most tries in a season (62 in 1958-59) and most career tries (392). He also represented his native South Africa on the international stage.
Harold Wagstaff (1895-1920 era, inducted 1988)
Wagstaff played in the early twentieth century as a centre for Huddersfield, between 1906 and 1925. He became the youngest professional Rugby League player, aged 15 for Huddersfield, and then the youngest to play for a representative side, aged 17 for Yorkshire.
In 1912, aged 19, he was made captain of Huddersfield and just two years later, captained Great Britain. He led the 1915 Huddersfield side to the Challenge Cup, Championship Trophy, Yorkshire Cup and Yorkshire League – something only achieved three times in the history of the sport.