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Honor James


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BARLA (The British Amateur Rugby League Association) based at West Yorkshire House, Huddersfield today celebrate their Ruby anniversary.

BARLA was formed on the 4th March 1973 by District Leagues meeting at Greenside Working Men’s Club, Huddersfield (ironically the town were the Rugby Football League (RFL) then known as the ‘Northern Union’ were formed in 1895).

The RFL was controlled by thirty professional clubs and the amateurs hadn’t any say or vote in their own destiny and their sport was seriously declining. They broke away with a £25 bank balance collected on the night becoming a successful sports story of modern times. The RFL initially were against recognising BARLA but within a year approved them and in 2004 both organisations unified with BARLA keeping its autonomy.

BARLA played a major role establishing 'free gangway' between the two codes at amateur status in 1987. The agreement allowed players to inter-change between Rugby League and Rugby Union without fear of discrimination, a move that was truly a piece of rugby history which helped to bring about the end of rugby apartheid which had existed between rugby league and rugby union since the last century.

Part of the BARLA ethos is ‘Play for BARLA and see the World’ which following Cross Channel clashes with France in 1975 by both the BARLA Great Britain Lions and Young Lions; saw in 1977 the Lions tour Papua New Guineas to develop the game (where it is now their national sport) and the Young Lions played in Australia and New Zealand. The BARLA International Pathway continues for the amateur game with representative levels at under seventeen’s, nineteen’s, twenty ones, twenty threes and open age.

BARLA has continued to build its reputation in rugby league circles as being a sport committed to the principles of equal opportunities ensuring the culture, philosophy and processes within BARLA are free from bias and discrimination which has kept its grassroots in the villages and towns were it all began in 1973.

Alan Parker Hull & District Youth ARL Chair, Treasurer of two surviving Founder Members of BARLA said: “When I went to that meeting forty years ago little did I think that BARLA would achieve what it has achieved over this period of time and it’s past so quickly from that first meeting, I would like to congratulate BARLA on its birthday today”

Surviving BARLA Founder Member & BARLA Patron Maurice Oldroyd said: “It was the beginning of a wonderful piece of history for rugby league that evening and the game has never looked back. BARLA brought thousand and thousand of youngsters into the game some that gravitated to become full professionals within the sport and represent their country at the highest level, and strengthen the sport as a whole. Forty years seems a long time but it has sped by so quickly with so many positives from the grassroots”

BARLA Chair Spen Allison said: “This is absolutely a tremendous day for BARLA which rose from a meeting in the backroom of a working men’s club and the success’s from that evening, to our reach our fortieth birthday is a great achievement. It is a very proud moment for myself as the longest serving BARLA chair of the association, for what is going to be an exciting twelve months for BARLA with event planned during the celebrations.”

Steve Manning

BARLA Media Manager

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