On this Day – 21st February

ON THIS DAY in 1889 Leeds Cricket Football & Athletic Co. Ltd was incorporated. The origins of Leeds rugby began in 1864 when the first record of a rugby club in Leeds can be traced. It was thanks to HI Jenkinson who placed advert in the Leeds Mercury inviting players to meet up at Woodhouse Moor a few days a week from 7 to 8am. That advert attracted over 500 members.

From this initial interest several clubs were formed including Leeds St Johns who were to become what we know today as Leeds Rhinos. St Johns were formed in 1870 and were originally known as the Old “Blue & Ambers,” and played on the Cardigan Fields ground. The membership was originally confined to the church classes but was soon expanded.

By 1887 St. Johns had reached their first Cup Final, the Yorkshire Cup, but they lost out on the day to a strong Wakefield Trinity side but the seed of success had been sown. Three years later the biggest change in Leeds sport was about to happen. In 1888 leading citizens and sportsmen of Leeds, came up with a plan to create a premier club for the city and they agreed to purchase Lot 17a at the sale of the Cardigan Estates.

They did and Lot 17a became the finest cricket and rugby stadium in the country, to which everybody knows today as Headingley Carnegie. The business of Leeds CF&A was registered in 1889 and that same year Leeds St. Johns played their last season as St. Johns, before playing their first as the Football Section of the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Co. Ltd. the following season. The Leeds clubs first ever game was against Otley and the team were forced to play at the old Cardigan Fields ground as Headingley was not ready for the start of the season however a fortnight later the first match on the new ground was against Manningham on September 20 1890. Leeds played in terra cotta and green jerseys won through by four points to nil.

Leeds Rhinos lost out 38-4 to NRL Premiers North Queensland Cowboys in the Dacia World Club Challenge after suffering a second half blitz from the Johnathan Thurston-inspired visitors.

The Rhinos came into the game with the hopes of the First Utility Super League resting on their shoulders. With internationals Danny McGuire, Tom Briscoe and Carl Ablett joining the likes of Stevie Ward, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Beau Falloon and Ashton Golding on the sidelines it was always going to be a huge challenge for the Super League Champions.
However, the side that Brian McDermott did field produced heroics in the first half to turn the form book upside down.