Huddersfield RUFC held their annual player presentation night on Friday 3rd May. It was a celebration of the club’s most successful season following the First XV’s fourth place finish in National 2 North and the Senior Academy’s league title win both accompanied by solid showings from the Falcons and A Team.
A theme during the black tie dinner event held in the club’s Waterloo Suite was ‘home grown talent’. Sixteen of the players who have helped the senior side to their highest ever placing since the formation of the league system in 1987 have come through Huddersfield’s flourishing youth system. Head Coach Gareth Lewis, who has just completed his sixth season in charge at Lockwood Park, started and ended his playing career at the club and this year he has seen flanker Harry Woodhouse and wingers Arthur Wilkinson and Elliott Spiers make the same step up to first team rugby that he took back in the 1990’s.
Next season the club is planning to celebrate the ‘Golden Jubilee’ of Mini and Junior club rugby which it pioneered back in 1969. Huddersfield RUFC was the first ever club to introduce rugby at a junior level. Hitherto youngsters only took to the game in the clubs in what is now the Academy team. From the humble origins back in the day ‘Age Grade’ rugby has grown to become a world-wide phenomenon, giving youngsters who don’t attend rugby playing schools an opportunity to enjoy learning and playing the game from an early age.
Former Huddersfield president Bob Lumley, whose son Michael was one of the first participants, along with former club secretary Martin Noble were the key men responsible for kick starting the movement. Michael Lumley went on to become Huddersfield’s longest serving first team captain and is one of the many who have bolstered the playing strength of the adult teams having started in the youth section.
In the early 1970’s lots of other clubs followed Huddersfield RUFC’s lead with Morley, Otley and Harrogate amongst the first in Yorkshire to follow suit. At the time of the launch the Huddersfield club was featured on the BBC’s ‘Nationwide’ TV programme which showed the boys in action with reporter Bob Langley interviewing Bob Lumley outside the old clubhouse at Waterloo. A novelty quirk on the back of the TV involvement was that in the early days Basil Brush became the first Honorary President of the newly formed Huddersfield RUFC Junior and Mini Section.
England international Luther Burrell, whose father Geoff is one of Huddersfield’s current Academy team coaches, and England Women’s Under 20’s international Bryony Field are two other players who got their start in the game at Huddersfield. The jubilee year is set to commence with a jamboree day on the first Sunday in September with other special occasions scheduled throughout the 20019/20 season.
Photo by Emmy Spiers. Huddersfield RUFC senior players who started their rugby careers in the club’s youth section celebrate this season’s success at their presentation dinner.