Based at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium in West Leeds, Leeds Rhinos are a professional Rugby League club who are regarded as the second most successful team in England and the current champions of the Super League.
The first rugby league team was formed in Leeds in 1864 by a Mr Jenkinson, who gathered over five hundred players to begin practising at Woodhouse Moor. From the inaugural training sessions at Woodhouse, several clubs were formed including Leeds St Johns, alternatively known as the ‘Old Blue and Ambers’ who were the early form of the Rhinos. The team based themselves at Cardigan Fields just outside Headingley which served as their home between 1870 and 1887. In 1887 Leeds St Johns reached the final in the Yorkshire Cup against Wakefield Trinity and, despite eventually losing the trophy to Wakefield, they had made their first mark in English Rugby League.
In 1888 Leeds St Johns lost their home at Cardigan Fields and moved to Lot 17a, the site which has since been expanded and renamed Headingley stadium. The stadium was used for cricket and athletics as well as rugby and in 1889 Leeds St Johns became known as the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletics Co Ltd or Leeds City FC for short (at that time Rugby was known as Rugby football, not to be confused with football which was a distinct sport)
Leeds won their first victory in the 1902 Yorkshire League final, winning their first Challenge Cup in 1909. In the 1905-06 season, however, the popularity of Rugby League fell in Leeds when the Leeds team were relegated to the second division.
During the pre-second world war years the team worked their way back up and in 1921 they won the Yorkshire Cup for the first time, going on to maintain their victory for an admirable seven seasons, a title which they have now won seventeen times to date. That same year Leeds were also involved in a record transfer, when they bought Harold Buck for a staggering £1000, which marked the rise in the profile of Rugby League and the beginning of a new era for the Leeds team.
After having a series of local and regional wins, Leeds became a dominant force in national rugby during the sixties and seventies. In 1961 the team, then nicknamed ‘’the Loiners’’, had their most significant win to date when they won the Rugby League Championship by 25-10 in a final against Warrington at Bradford. They had a second Championship triumph in 1968 in the famous ‘’watersplash final’’ against Wakefield Trinity, winning the game 11-10 on a rain-sodden pitch. The following year they made a decade hat trick by winning the trophy against Castleford, coached by Joe Warham who also coached them through their first Championship victory.
A series of high profile wins during the seventies, including another Championship title, was ended in 1978 when Leeds won the Challenge Cup against St Helens. Following their two decades of dominance, Leeds won very few significant matches during the eighties, and to make matters worse, their poor performance on the pitch was matched by serious financial difficulties within the club. After threats made to sell Headingley stadium, and a close shave with relegation, the team managed to turn their luck around and began a rise to dominance once again.
In 1996 Leeds were re-named the Leeds Rhinos and two years later the team reached the final of what was by then known as the Super League, their first championship final in two decades. Despite being beaten 10-4 by Wigan, the team put up a good match and it was clear that the Rhinos were back on their feet. In 1997, after buying Lestyn Harris for a record-breaking £350,000, the Rhinos won the Challenge Cup in a momentous 52-16 victory against London.
In 2003 Tony Smith became the head coach for the Rhinos and a year later Leeds were back in the Super League final. The match was one of the biggest selling games in history and, after a tense eighty minutes, Leeds fans were rewarded with a 16-8 victory for the Rhinos against the Bradford Bulls. The following year the team were victorious again, but this time on an international level, when they beat Australia 39-32 in the World Cup Challenge.
Following two bleak seasons in 2005 and 2006 where the Rhinos failed to win the Challenge Cup or the Super League, the team got back on track in 2007. With New Zealand centre Clinton Toopi and full back Brent Wood on side, the Rhinos had a strong team and, after a series of excellent victories throughout the season, the Rhinos won the Super League once again, beating St Helens 33-6 in a magnificent final watched by more than 71,000 spectators.
During their lifespan of more than a century, Leeds Rhinos have won numerous titles including every domestic honour possible. Their victories include:
The Yorkshire Cup: 1921-22, 1928-29, 1930-31, 1932-33, 1934-35, 1935-36, 1937-38, 1958-59, 1968-69, 1970-71, 1972-73, 1973-74, 1975-76, 1976-77, 1979-80, 1980-81, 1988-89
The Yorkshire League: 1901-02, 1927-28, 1930-31, 1933-34, 1934-35, 1936-37, 1950-51, 1954-55, 1956-57, 1960-61, 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70
Regal Trophy: 1972-73, 1983-84
Challenge Cup: 1909-10, 1922-23, 1931-32, 1935-36, 1940-41, 1941-42, 1956-57, 1967-68, 1976-77, 1977-78, 1999
Premiership: 1974-75, 1978-79
Championship/Super League 1960-61, 1968-69, 2004, 2007
World Club Challenge: 2005
For tickets to see Leeds Rhinos play or for other enquiries contact:
Ticket Office (tel): 08700 60 60 50
Ticket Office (email): firstname.lastname@example.org
Main Club (tel): 0845 0700 881
Main Club (fax): 0845 0700 882
Directions to Headingley Carnegie stadium:
(By car) From the M621 take Junction 2 signposted Headingley Carnegie stadium. Follow the A643 (A58) and at the next roundabout follow signs to the city centre/Wetherby. Bear left, taking signs to Ilkley and the airport. At the traffic lights turn left on to Kirkstall road and continue straight, past the Yorkshire Television studios on the right. After 0.75 miles turn right following signs to Headingley and continue up the hill to the crossroads. Carry straight on across the crossroads on to Cardigan Road and, after the Co-op, continue straight until the next set of traffic lights. After the lights, turn left on to St Michaels Lane and the stadium is on the right-hand side.
(By train) From the train station in Leeds City Centre transfer to a train for Burley Park (usually goes from platform 1) which is a short walk from the stadium. At Burley Park turn right on exiting the station and continue straight on through a housing estate passing an allotment on the left. At the end of the road turn right, walk over the bridge and the stadium is on the left-hand side of the road.