Francis Cummins

Great Britain, England
Heritage Number


Debut: Vs Hull Kingston Rovers (H) 19th September 1993

Honours: Grand Final (Winner: 2004; Finalist: 1998), Challenge Cup (Winner: 1999; Finalist: 1994, 1995), League Leaders’ Shield (2004), Premiership (Finalists: 1994-95)

Cummins moved to Headingley from the famous Dewsbury junior club St John Fisher on October 12, 1993, at a time when Leeds had a reputation for signing promising youngsters and then leaving them to rot in the lower grade while big-name captures stole the limelight in the first team. That certainly wasn’t the case with Cummins. Making his debut as a 16-year-old, he went on to make 23 starts and another two substitute appearances in his first, 1993-94, season, scoring an eye-catching 17 tries and one goal. That was the era of Leeds’ great rivalry with Wigan as the two best sides in the British game and Cummins quickly got a taste of the big time, starring in the epic Challenge Cup semi-final win over St Helens, when his delight at the final hooter was one of the enduring images of a memorable day for the Leeds club. Cummins – aged 17 years and 200 days – went on to make history at Wembley as the youngest player in a Challenge Cup final, scoring a late length-of-the-field try in the defeat by Wigan. Sadly for Cummins, that was the first of a series of runner’s up medals he was to collect over the next four years, with Wigan each time inflicting the misery.

The Dewsbury youngster continued to enhance his reputation in 1994-95, scoring 21 tries in an incredible 41 appearances and landing 29 goals for good measure. But that season ended on a miserable note for Leeds and for Cummins as they returned to Wembley only to be thrashed by Wigan before an even more embarrassing Premiership final defeat by the same opposition at Old Trafford. Cummins remained a regular in the Leeds line up over the next couple of years as the star-studded side assembled by Doug Laughton began to break up and Leeds’ financial worries began to bite. But as things began to pick up for Leeds, now re-named Rhinos, Cummins began to get back on track – and his partnership with Aussie centre Brad Godden saw him develop into one of Super League’s most potent try scorers.

Cummins’ 21 tries in 27 games in 1998 were at the heart of Rhinos’ charge up to second spot in Super League and a place in the inaugural Grand Final, where he again suffered the heartbreak of defeat by his nemesis Wigan. That season saw him rested for the final home league match, against Hull Sharks, returning in a 42-0 defeat at Halifax – a game which marked the start of an astonishing, record-breaking run of consecutive appearances stretching over six seasons. After the agony of defeat at Old Trafford, Cummins must have feared his day would never come, but it did – on a glorious afternoon at Wembley as Rhinos re-wrote the record books against London Broncos. Cummins suffered uncharacteristic jitters as London took advantage of a rare error to regain the lead after the break, but then Leeds took control and there could have been no happier and more deserved try scorer than the Dewsbury maestro, who was also celebrating the birth of his first child.

Since then Cummins has never been out of the side, grabbing another runner’s up medal, this time at the hands of Bradford Bulls in the 2000 Challenge Cup final, and reaching the dizzy heights of first team skipper for the 2002 campaign. Positional switches and new responsibilities have slowed his try-scoring ratio, but earned him respect throughout the game as one of the fittest and most reliable players in British rugby league. In 2003 he enjoyed the most successful Testimonial the club has ever staged and his ten years at the club were honoured with his name and signature featuring on the club shirt, which he proudly wore at the Challenge Cup Final at the Millennium Stadium Cardiff.

He played two more seasons with Leeds, scoring six tries in 22 appearances as Leeds lifted the Grand Final and then making three substitute appearances in 2005 prior to his retirement at the end of the season.

His played four games for Great Britain, though he has also appeared with distinction for Great Britain under-21s, England and Ireland.