50 years ago, students here at the University of Leeds founded the first student rugby league team and convinced university authorities to recognise rugby league as an official sport. Half a century later there are more than 70 student rugby league clubs across the country.
To celebrate this momentous anniversary, Leeds Sport hosted a week of events including an ‘old boys’ alumni fixture and a dinner in terrace with the unveiling of a commemorative plaque in Old Bar to mark the occasion.
Leeds Rhino’s superstar Stevie Ward visited Leeds University Union and gave an inspiring talk about the mental and physical challenges involved with playing professional sport as well as speaking out about his ‘Mantality‘ magazine which is aimed at young sports players.
To culminate a week of celebrations a brand new event took place on Friday; the Rugby League Yorkshire Varsity. The current university team took on a ‘Best of Yorkshire’ students side made up of students from the universities of Bradford, Hull, Huddersfield, Leeds Trinity, Sheffield Hallam, Sheffield and York.
The evening proved to be a huge success with over 450 students from Leeds and the other participating universities attending the game as well as a number of Leeds Rhino’s supporters who came down early to watch the fixture. The fixture was played as a curtain raiser to the Leeds Rhino’s v Wakefield Trinity game and The University of Leeds came back from being 18 -4 down in the first half to achieve an impressive 36-24 victory. Freestyle dance opened the event with a fantastic routine, and we also saw George the Gryphon take to the pitch side.