Huddersfield has played a major role in rugby history.
In the beginning
The town of Huddersfield has a long and proud rugby tradition. Early records show that the game was first played in the town in 1869 when members of The Huddersfield Athletics Club, which had been formed five years earlier, decided to start a team. The first matches were played on the Rifle Field on Trinity Street. Later, in 1879, the club amalgamated with St. John’s Cricket Club and moved to new grounds at Fartown.
The rugby team enjoyed much early success and had international and county men amongst its playing ranks. In 1890 Huddersfield won the Yorkshire Challenge Cup by beating Wakefield by one goal to nil. (NB In those days three tries equalled a goal.) Alas the trophy was destined not to return to the town for well over 100 years!
Huddersfield’s 1890 Cup Winning Team
In August 1895, at the George Hotel in Huddersfield, the famous ‘split’ in rugby took place. Following a dispute over ‘broken-time payments’ between the RFU and the senior teams from Yorkshire and Lancashire, twenty clubs resigned their membership of the RFU and formed the new ‘Northern Rugby Football Union’. The new organisation was the forerunner of the modern professional Rugby League.
A number of clubs affected by the breakaway re-formed subsequently and retained the original date of their formation. Not so Huddersfield. A break of 14 years elapsed before a new amateur rugby union club was formed. HRUFC was re-born in 1909. The club was originally named Huddersfield Old Boys, matches were played at the United Cricket Club in Luck Lane, Marsh and players changed in the nearby Croppers Arms pub.
The 20th century
After re-formation the club quickly established itself as one of the best in the county but matches ceased between 1914-1918 during the First World War. After the war the club played briefly at Salendine Nook before moving to new grounds at Waterloo on the other side of town in 1919-20. These would be home to the club for the next 87 years. New colours of white jersey, with a claret and gold band were adopted and the club grew in strength.
By 1924 it was running four successful teams. During World War Two strenuous efforts were made to continue the playing of rugby despite the fact that most members were serving in the forces. In 1946 the club dropped the ‘Old Boys’ suffix which was something of an anachronism. It had never been connected to a school and membership had never been restricted to former public school boys.
Improvements to the grounds at Waterloo were continually made. A stand was built, bar and tea room added and in the mid 60’s money was raised for the building of new dressing rooms and baths. The committee also had the foresight to purchase the grounds when the opportunity presented itself which was to prove hugely beneficial as the century drew to a close.
In 1969 Huddersfield pioneered the formation of mini-rugby, an event which was featured on the BBC TV programme ‘Look North’. The idea was the brain child of two Huddersfield dads, Bob Lumley and Martin Noble whose children were amongst the first boys to participate. Basil Brush and the Romanian Ambassador, Pretor Pola, were two of the new section’s early Honorary Presidents.
Subsequent years saw the game at mini level take off big time and now most grass roots clubs introduce youngsters to the joys of the game from an early age with many going on to represent their clubs at senior level.
As the century neared its end the club was once again in search of more extensive grounds and better facilities to meet the demands of the modern age. The old junior fields were sold to Morrisons supermarket and the £1.4 million received from the sale along with a matching National Lottery Sports Council grant was ploughed into the purchase and development of the old 26 acre Bass brewery site at Lockwood Park. The present club was officially opened in 1997 by Sir John Harman the Leader of Kirklees Council (1986-1999).
In 2011, HRUFC clinched the Yorkshire Cup for the second time in its history with a superb performance against the odds; defeating Hull 25-18 at York.
Despite being down to 12 men at one stage with three men in the sin-bin and a 19-9 penalty count against them, Huddersfield dug deeper than they have done all season with a tremendous display. Four penalties and a drop goal from Chris Johnson – and second-half tries from Lee Paxman and James Wood – sent the large travelling band of ‘Field supporters wild with delight. It was a fantastic achievement to beat Hull and claim the legendary ‘T’Owd Tin Pot’ for only the second time in the history of the competition – the last was back in 1890!
Today HRUFC thrives as a multi-sport institution. Three senior rugby teams are run along with a full compliment of Age Grade teams from Under 6’s to Senior Academy.
Pitches lie either side of the great Lockwood railway viaduct and include a 1500 capacity First XV ground and a floodlit astro-turf hockey pitch along with junior rugby fields and training areas. It has two glass backed squash courts and a traditionally furnished two table snooker room in the main building and a first class bowling green with its own separate pavilion
The club has associated men’s and ladies’ hockey clubs; and squash, a road running, crown green bowling and a billiards and snooker sections. In 2020 the Huddersfield Astronomical Society also found a new home at Lockwood Park.
Our full history and that of our magnificent property is depicted in our entrance hall.
- Yorkshire Challenge Cup Runners Up 1932 (v Morley, lost 0-18)
- Yorkshire Challenge Cup Runners Up 1970 (v Bradford, lost 6-19)
- Northern League Division Two (East) Runners Up 2001/2, (Promoted following play-off win v Vale of Lune)
- Northern League Division Two (East) Runners Up 2004/5 (Promoted following play-off win v Stockport)
- Northern League Division One Runners Up 2007/8, (Promoted following play-off win v Luctonians)
- Yorkshire Challenge Cup Winners 2011 (v Hull, won 25-18)
- National League Division Three (North) Champions 2012/13
- National League Division Three (North) Champions 2016/17. Unbeaten throughout the league season.
- Highest league position 4th National League Two (North) 2018/19