LEEDS TYKES v MOSELEY, National League Division 1, at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, SUNDAY, October 29, 2006, KO 2.30 pm (GMT!)

Moseley travel to the Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds on Sunday, a ground that has a long sporting history, not only in rugby, but cricket, too.

Rugby includes the Union and League codes and the ground has provided the scene of great cricket Test matches, most notably the place where Botham and Willis destroyed the Australians in mid July, 1981.

Wonder win
England were 227 runs behind after the first innings, but, thanks to Botham’s 149 not out when England followed on, the Aussies needed 129 runs to win. Then it was Bob Willis’s inspired 8-43 (he had taken 0-72 in the first innings), that took England to an improbable 18-run victory. He was backed up by the brother of an England rugby fly-half, Chris Old, whose tight bowling, 1-21 in nine overs, closed up the other end. They went on to win the Ashes.

The writer, a cricket lover you might have guessed, made a special pilgrimage to the other side of the rugby stand when Moseley next visited Headingley and didn’t have far to go to get to the start of Willis’s run-up!

Forgive the digression – now back to rugby.

New boys
Leeds RUFC was born out of an amalgamation in 1991 of Headingley, founded in 1878, with Roundhay, founded in 1924. The history of the ground in St Michael’s Lane is complicated, and the writer has to thank Chris Harte in his Rugby Clubs and Grounds, A Second Selection, for clarifying this history, which is linked very much to the breakaway of the Northern clubs from the Rugby Union in 1893.

Rugby Union began in Leeds in 1877 and was centred around a church club. The original rugby union team was Leeds St John’s and it played at the Militia Barracks ground before moving to Cardigan Fields. The Headingley name was adopted in 1878 and Cardigan Fields was used for both rugby and cricket.

In 1884, England played Wales there and won by three tries and one conversion, to one converted try.

Sunday best…
The club playing there was then disbanded but was re-formed again in 1885 under the auspices of the Headingley Hill Chapel Sunday Class and played matches on local fields against local teams, including Roundhay.

The development of the playing fields into the Headingley ground was down to the visionary Lord Hawke, who was behind the creation of the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Company and the purchase of lot 17A of the Cardigan Estate. (Lord Hawke captained England and Yorkshire at cricket).

However, this saw the demise of the Leeds club which split into two. The part that was to become the Rugby League club in 1895-6 stayed at the Headingley ground and Headingley RUFC was re-born in 1891, eventually finishing up in 1902 in Clarence Fields, Kirkstall.

Two other internationals were played in Leeds before the split between Union and League, against Ireland and Scotland, both lost.

Final change
This situation lasted until 1991 when Headingley and Roundhay amalgamated to form Leeds RUFC and moved to Lot 17A at the Cardigan Estate, St Michael’s Lane, and the creation of Leeds Rugby brought Union and League together in 1998 as professionalism in the Union game became established.

It was as though the visionaries in 1991 anticipated, rather than gambled, that rumblings of professionalism in the Southern Hemisphere would come to fruition.

Early fixtures
Moseley played both Headingley and Roundhay in the amateur days, the Headingley game being an annual fixture.

The Roundhay game was more intermittent, but the two clubs met in the 1973-4 RFU Cup competition at Chandos Park where Moseley won 8-3.

When the amalgamation came in 1991, both Headingley and Roundhay were in National League 3, Headingley having been relegated from National 2 in 1990-91, the year Moseley were relegated from National 1, then the top league. Thus Moseley never met either of the clubs in League rugby.

To illustrate the status of the two clubs that virtually lost their identity, such internationals as IAN McGEECHAN, PETER WINTERBOTTOM, JOHN SPENCER, PHIL THOMPSON and J.A. KING (12 caps between 1911 and 1913) won caps while playing for England. DENIS WILKINS (12 England caps), centre KEITH SMITH and RICHARD CARDUS won caps while in the Roundhay ranks.

Headingley’s relegation to join Roundhay made it logical that the two clubs should start as Leeds RUFC in National 3. In their first season they finished 6th, but League re-organisation put them in National 4, in which they finished 6th in 1993-4 and 1994-5, and 5th the following season.

The extent of the club’s ambitions became manifest when they finished 3rd in 1996-7, scoring 1209 points in 30 games.

In 1997-8 they won promotion from the newly-formed Jewson 1, finishing runners-up to Worcester. The Tongan SATEKI TUIPOLOTU scored a club League record of 322 points. The Academy side reached the final of the inaugural National Colts Cup, losing to Moseley Colts.

Reaching the heights
In 1998 came the creation of Leeds Rugby when Union and League finally came together. In Premiership 2, Leeds came 6th and 2nd, before winning promotion to the Premiership in 2000-01. In that season the former Moseley fly-half RICHARD LE BAS scored a club record 337 points and GRAHAM MACKAY, a product of Leeds Rhinos, scored 19 tries. Both Leeds' season records have yet to be beaten.

First encounter
Moseley met Leeds for the first time in League rugby on 12 September, 1998 in Premiership 2. They had just come out of administration and their 27-22 win was something of a miracle. Leeds got their revenge at the Headingley stadium, winning 50-8 and scoring eight tries.

In the following season, Leeds did the double, winning a close game at The Reddings 15-11 and Moseley suffered what had become their usual heavy defeat at Headingley, 53-13.

It was a much closer game at Headingley in 2000-01, Leeds just winning 19-16, after Moseley had conceded 10 points in the first five minutes. Leeds won 50-23 at Bournbrook and won 24 out of 26 matches to win promotion to the Premiership.

They did better than most newcomers to the Premiership, lasting five seasons before relegation last season. Their best position in that period had been 5th in 2002-3. They won the 2004-5 Powergen RFU Cup, defeating Bath 20-12 at Twickenham.

New team
As a result of their relegation from the Premiership, Leeds have lost many players and their Director of Rugby, PHIL DAVIES, who have moved on to pastures new.

Consequently, they have recruited virtually a new squad and have a new Director of Rugby, STUART LANCASTER. From the Moseley point of view, the most interesting newcomer to the Leeds ranks is LEIGH HINTON. Leigh is a former Moseley Colt who was in Moseley’s team that beat Leeds in the first final of the National Colts cup in 1998.

Since then, he has scored 227 League points for Moseley, 109 points for Birmingham and Solihull, 313 points for Orrell and 347 points for Bedford, a club record.

He joined Newport Gwent Dragons last season and for the first time for several seasons, did not figure among the top points scorers, with injury playing its part. Now at Leeds, he is the leading points scorer to date this season and an ever-present.

Another interesting new signing is JONNY HEPWORTH of Leeds Rhinos Academy and Castleford Tigers who moved to Rugby Union last season playing with Leinster. A fly-half, he is currently playing in the centre because of a spate of injuries amongst the backs.

A young player, RICHARD VASEY, has played at fly-half, plus IAN HUMPHRIES, who has joined on loan from Leicester.

By all accounts, the Tykes are an athletic, strong-running side that will test Moseley’s defence, especially in the middle of the field.

The captain is flanker MARK LOCK, who has had plenty of Premiership experience with London Wasps. Other newcomers include the Argentinian 7s and ex-Plymouth Albion flanker MARTIN SCHUSTERMAN, prop US international MIKE McDONALD, ex-Worcester, who has helped the Eagles qualify for the World Cup, scrum-half JACOB RAULUNI, ex-Rotherham and Bristol, and winger RICHARD WELDING, ex-Orrell and Cornish Pirates.

They all join winger TOM and centre ANDY ROCK, centre CHRIS JONES, hooker ROB RAWLINSON, lock STUART HOOPER and flanker JON DUNBAR, who have remained with the Tykes from last season.

Gelling well
The Leeds squad is coming together after the 10-16 home defeat by London Welsh in their first match on their return to National 1.

Since then, they have lost just one other game, at Bedford, and are lying third, below Earth Titans and second-placed Cornish Pirates, whom they have beaten at home 21-20.

Last week they defeated Doncaster Knights 30-18. Leigh Hinton has scored 98 points this season, including two tries, and their leading try scorers are J. HEPWORTH, 4, T. Rock, 3 and M. SCHUSTERMAN, M. LOCK, I. HUMPHRIES and R. WELLING, 2 apiece.

Morale booster
Moseley will come into this difficult game at a famous ground encouraged by their hard fought win over Sedgley Tigers last week.

There have been several surprising results, none more so than Waterloo’s win at Exeter, so maybe it should be a philosophy of ‘nothing is impossible’. It was good to see the return to League rugby of JAMES ASTON after such a long absence through injury. He played for 30 minutes and showed signs of his old power.

OLLIE THOMAS’S 12 points against Sedgley Tigers took his total points for the season to 89, making him 4th in the League to date this season. ADAM CAVES is Moseley’s leading try scorer with four, NATHAN BRESSINGTON has three, and three players have two.

And so, to the team and welcome travelling support who make the Sunday outing to the newly named Carnegie Stadium, have a good day.


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