Yorkshire RFU
Full nameYorkshire Rugby Football Union
Founded1869; 154 years ago (1869)
Region Yorkshire
PresidentDavid A Hunter
Team kit
Official website

The Yorkshire Rugby Football Union is the governing body responsible for rugby union in the historic county of Yorkshire, England. It is one of the constituent bodies of the national Rugby Football Union having formed in 1869, the union was formerly called Yorkshire County Club.

The county has won the county championship on 15 occasions, and finished as runners-up on a further eight occasions. The Yorkshire RFU also organises the Yorkshire Cup, which was inaugurated in 1878.


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Early years of County representative team

The first match arranged for the county of Yorkshire took place in 1870, at Leeds against Lancashire. This match was immediately known as the "Battle of the Roses" and was considered the "blue ribbon" of Northern rugby football. To be selected to represent the county was an honour bestowed long before the foundation of the Yorkshire RFU and it was seen as "the high road to International honours".[1]

Formation of the Yorkshire Football Union

Any form of sporting interest with appeal to a Yorkshireman promptly engenders demand for a match with Lancashire. Before Rugby football had even acquired commonly acceptable laws or pattern of play Yorkshire and Lancashire were eager to compete with each other and from this eagerness grew, in course of time and through disharmonious days, the Rugby Football Unions of Yorkshire and Lancashire. A Yorkshireman, J. G. Hudson, was innovator; not of the Yorkshire Rugby Union, but of matches with Lancashire, which originated county Rugby, thereby demanding the creation of county authorities. Hudson was a founder of the Leeds Athletic Club which was built on the simple basis of a newspaper invitation to play football on Woodhouse Moor "from 7 to 8 o'clock a.m.". The Victorian virtue of early rising brought extension of playing hours; morning football came to start at 6.30 a.m.-presumably when daylight permitted-and either the power of the Press or the inherent fascination of the new pastime induced attendances of 500, participants in practice games numbering 60 to 150, all, apparently, served by one ball and goalposts consisting of broom handles identified by fluttering cotton. These practices on Woodhouse Moor were not conducted entirely for their own sake. There were other Northern nurseries of the same, or a similar, game and in 1864 matches were played against Sheffield. Winds of challenge blew across the Pennines; in 1865 Leeds played Manchester. This, of course, was not enough. Yorkshire had to meet Lancashire and at Hudson's instigation they did, so instituting county history in Rugby football. The first Yorkshire authority and the first Yorkshire team were representative of the county only in their representation of Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and Hull and no formal committee was required because no formal business had to be transacted. Match management was by venue, Leeds, Bradford, and Huddersfield finding the grounds and choosing the teams for home matches and Hull undertaking responsibility for away fixtures. The Northern counties are prideful communities and Rugby football quickly extended county pride and loyalties. Yorkshire's founding fathers, spurred by Harry Wharfedale Tennant Garnett of Bradford, wanted county matches to become occasions offering hospitality off the field as well as a contest in sport and to this end preparation was necessary. By 1874 the representatives of Leeds Athletic, Bradford, Huddersfield, Hull and York were meeting as a committee to promote county interests. They were a self-created authority, serving a current need and they sought to be no more than the machinery of a county club as distinct from a union of represented clubs within a geographical and administrative area. The committee of the five held county reins through a period of accumulating discontent as the Rugby game spread and the number of clubs increased. They were challenged in 1880 and, with no great show of enthusiasm, invited two other clubs to join them. They bent further before the wind in 1883 when they proposed a revised constitution, but dismissed a request for county organisation under elected members from Yorkshire clubs within the now established national Rugby Union. They conceded the inevitable in 1888 when the Yorkshire County Club formally became the Yorkshire Rugby Union.[2]

County side

The county side has reached the County Championship Final 23 times, winning the title on 15 occasions.


Year Winner
1889 Yorkshire
1890 Yorkshire
1892 Yorkshire
1893 Yorkshire
1894 Yorkshire
1895 Yorkshire
Year Winners Home Team Score Away Team Venue Notes
1896 Yorkshire Surrey 4-16 Yorkshire Athletic Ground, Richmond
1910 Gloucestershire Gloucestershire 23-0 Yorkshire Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester
1911 Devon Yorkshire 3-12 Devon Kirkstall, Leeds
1920 Gloucestershire Yorkshire 3-27 Gloucestershire Bradford
1926 Yorkshire Yorkshire 15-14 Hampshire Bradford
1928 Yorkshire Yorkshire 12-8 Cornwall Bradford
1953 Yorkshire Yorkshire 11-3 East Midlands Bradford
1957 Devon Devon 12-3 Yorkshire Home Park, Plymouth
1963 Warwickshire Warwickshire 13-10 Yorkshire Coundon Road Stadium, Coventry
1983 Gloucestershire Gloucestershire 19-7 Yorkshire Memorial Stadium, Bristol

From 1984 all Championship finals were played at Twickenham Stadium.

Year Winners Score Runner's Up Venue Notes
1987 Yorkshire 22-11 Middlesex Twickenham Stadium
1991 Cornwall 29-20 Yorkshire Twickenham Stadium After Extra Time (AET)
1993 Lancashire 9-6 Yorkshire Twickenham Stadium
1994 Yorkshire 26-3 Durham County Twickenham Stadium
2000 Yorkshire 16-9 Devon Twickenham Stadium
2001 Yorkshire 47-19 Cornwall Twickenham Stadium Challenge match
2008 Yorkshire 33-13 Devon Twickenham Stadium

Games played against international opposition

Year Date Opponent Result Score Tour Ground Notes
1888 12 December New Zealand Natives Loss See notes 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team tour Manningham, Bradford[3] The Natives won by 2 goals, 4 tries, 2 minors to Yorkshire's 1 goal, 3 tries, 6 minors.
1889 19 January New Zealand Natives Win see notes 1888–89 New Zealand Native football team tour Belle Vue (Wakefield), Wakefield[3] Yorkshire won by 5 goals, 1 try, 6 minors to Natives' 1 goal, 1 try, 1 minor.
1905 13 December  New Zealand Loss 0-40[4] The Original All Blacks Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds
1906 13 October  South Africa Loss 0-34 1906–07 South Africa rugby union tour Headingley Rugby Stadium, Leeds
1908 21 November  Australia Loss 0-24 1908–09 Australia rugby union tour of Britain Belle Vue (Wakefield), Wakefield
1919 13 October New Zealand Army Loss 5-41 New Zealand Army tour Lidgett Green, Bradford Game marked the opening of Bradford RFC's new ground at Lidgett Green
1924 18 October  New Zealand Loss 4-42 1924–25 New Zealand rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland and France Lidgett Green, Bradford
1926 27 October New Zealand Maori Loss 9-17 1926–27 New Zealand Māori rugby union tour Lidgett Green, Bradford

Games played against international opposition by composite teams including Yorkshire

Year Date Opponent Result Score Tour Ground Notes
1927 8 October New South Wales New South Wales Loss 3-9 1927–28 Waratahs tour of the British Isles, France and Canada Lidgett Green, Bradford Joint Yorkshire and Cumberland XV
1932 6 January  South Africa Loss 5-27 1931–32 South Africa rugby union tour Workington Joint Yorkshire and Cumberland XV
1935 21 September  New Zealand Loss 3-14 1935–36 New Zealand rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland and Canada Lidgett Green, Bradford Joint Yorkshire and Cumberland XV
1946 February  New Zealand Army Loss 0-41 1946 New Zealand army tour Manchester Joint Lancashire, Yorkshire and Cumberland XV
1947 18 October  Australia Loss 0-25 1947–48 Australia rugby union tour of Britain, Ireland, France and North America Workington Joint Yorkshire, Westmoreland and Cumberland XV

Notable players for the County side

See Yorkshire County RFU players

Notes; ★ RFU President

Club sides

Amongst the clubs falling within the Yorkshire Rugby Football Union are several clubs of national renown including; Doncaster R.F.C., Hull Ionians, Leeds Tykes, Rotherham R.U.F.C., Wakefield RFC (now non-playing), and Wharfedale R.U.F.C.

Rugby league clubs that were members of the Yorkshire RFU before switching codes during or shortly after the schism include Batley, Bradford, Halifax, Huddersfield, Hunslet, Hull FC, Hull Kingston Rovers, Keighley, Leeds, Wakefield Trinity and York.

Affiliated club sides

There are currently 94 clubs affiliated with the Yorkshire RFU, most of which have teams at both senior and junior level. These clubs are based in the districts that make up modern Yorkshire - East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire.




















  1. ^ Despite going into liquidation and ceasing to exist in 2004, Wakefield remain as non-playing members of the Yorkshire RFU.[5]

County club competitions

The Yorkshire RFU currently runs the following competitions for club sides based in the districts that make up modern day Yorkshire - East Riding of Yorkshire, North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire:





Discontinued competitions

See also


  1. ^ Francis Marshall, Football; the Rugby union game, page 373, London
  2. ^ J. M. Kilburn, Yorkshire Rugby Union - Centenary 1869-1969, Page-5, Chadwick Studios/Frederick Duffield & sons Ltd.
  3. ^ a b "Matches played—New Zealand Natives' rugby tour, 1888/89". New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage. 13 May 2013. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  4. ^ "In the British Isles, France and North America". allblacks.com. Retrieved 6 January 2017.
  5. ^ Newcombe, Jon (27 April 2014). "Spirit lives on decade after Wakefield demise". The RUGBYPaper. p. 39.
  6. ^ "Links to clubs in Yorkshire". Yorkshire RFU (Pitchero). Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  7. ^ "Competitions - 2016/17". Yorkshire RFU (Pitchero). Retrieved 17 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Yorkshire Competitions 2017-18". Yorkshire RFU (Pitchero). Retrieved 17 June 2017.