Jump to content

Percentage of RU converts in RL back in the day


Recommended Posts

Tonight I watched the 1989 Charity Shield match between Widnes and Wigan in which Widnes had five RU converts (Alan Tait at fullback, Martin Offiah and Brimah Kebbie on the wings, Jonathan Davies in the centres, and Tony Myler at stand-off) in their starting lineup.  That's just a smidge under 40% of their starters in that match, and they had John Devereux and Paul Moriarty on their roster that season too.

This leads me to wonder just how high a percentage of the players in the old First Division were RU converts?  Would any of the real long time followers of the game here such as @GUBRATS, @Harry Stottleand their like happen to know?

Link to comment
Share on other sites


It is a fair point, but rl players who may have played league and union as junior players are not converts. For over 100 years we had a steady flow of players, some became legends. But now they are replaced by southern hemispheres players. We also had lots of Welsh converts but although the top level players don't come now there is probably more welsh people playing at lower levels. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Doug Laughton at Widnes was a master at identifying RU players who could make the switch and then successfully bringing them through. So his teams were not really a representation of the league as a whole.

I'm not sure you'd  call Tony Myler a real convert either to be honest - someone growing up in a Rugby League town, surrounded by and obsessed by Rugby League but who happened to play a bit of union before making their pro debut aged 19 isn't really the same as someone coming from union to League cold.

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

That source dried up in more ways than one. Firstly League can't afford to buy Union guys and to be honest can you name any that are worth going after. Certainly not in the Lions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Didn't Keighley change their Jersey colour to Red to honour the large Welsh (and therefore RU convert) contingent in their squad one final? 

As a rule of thumb, look at when the Welsh economy was doing poorly and the Welsh national RU team likewise and you'll see the correlation with an influx of Welsh RU players into League. Scottish, Irish and English converts were less common because of the socio-economic background of a lot of their players. 

I don't know if you've seen the excellent BBC documentary on the Welsh RL players, but I would highly recommend it.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Big Picture said:

Tonight I watched the 1989 Charity Shield match between Widnes and Wigan in which Widnes had five RU converts (Alan Tait at fullback, Martin Offiah and Brimah Kebbie on the wings, Jonathan Davies in the centres, and Tony Myler at stand-off) in their starting lineup.  That's just a smidge under 40% of their starters in that match, and they had John Devereux and Paul Moriarty on their roster that season too.

This leads me to wonder just how high a percentage of the players in the old First Division were RU converts?  Would any of the real long time followers of the game here such as @GUBRATS, @Harry Stottleand their like happen to know?

You lost me when you wrote Tony Myler.

  • Like 1
  • Haha 1

"I'm a traditionalist and I don"t think you'd ever see me coaching an Australian national side!"  Lee Radford, RLW March 2016

Proud to be a member of the TRL woke claque

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, latchford albion said:

You lost me when you wrote Tony Myler.

Tony myler played a bit of rugby for the union team in widnes 

They were known as the old wids and i played for their u19 team many moons ago 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, The storm said:

Tony myler played a bit of rugby for the union team in widnes 

They were known as the old wids and i played for their u19 team many moons ago 

 

Was that before or after his RL career? 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Rugby Union players have played a huge part in RL's history and I think our game is poorer for no longer having these players. There are a lot of good rugby players in Union who could be better suited to RL. 

I do still believe Wales should be an area of focus for RL clubs. 

  • Like 7
Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Dave T said:

Rugby Union players have played a huge part in RL's history and I think our game is poorer for no longer having these players. There are a lot of good rugby players in Union who could be better suited to RL. 

I do still believe Wales should be an area of focus for RL clubs. 

Plus the risk is so much less for the players, since the end of shamateurism and RU's life bans. I'm sure there are players out there who'd like to try RL.

"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 minutes ago, Futtocks said:

Plus the risk is so much less for the players, since the end of shamateurism and RU's life bans. I'm sure there are players out there who'd like to try RL.

I think the counter to that is that relatively average players can do pretty well for themselves in Union - there are more opportunities worldwide to earn a career and you can do some pretty huge stuff internationally considering the size of the sport. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most of Bradford's from my time didn't do much. Terry Holmes retired, Gerald Cordle was nicknamed teflon and Brett Iti had the potential but couldn't match it.

Darrell Shelford was a good player and we got Hugh Gumbs into the game who could have been great if he'd had joined at a younger age.

Neil Summers signed from Headingley and I believe David Cooper was signed from Union 

  • Like 1

Like poor jokes? Thejoketeller@mullymessiah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

25 minutes ago, Mumby Magic said:

Most of Bradford's from my time didn't do much. Terry Holmes retired, Gerald Cordle was nicknamed teflon and Brett Iti had the potential but couldn't match it.

Darrell Shelford was a good player and we got Hugh Gumbs into the game who could have been great if he'd had joined at a younger age.

Neil Summers signed from Headingley and I believe David Cooper was signed from Union 

This is it really. Some of the greats of the game came from RU but there were also many complete flops and many who just turned out to be average RL players.

Clubs not being able to sign RU players as simply as before has certainly made them focus more on youth development, which is no bad thing.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 minutes ago, Damien said:

This is it really. Some of the greats of the game came from RU but there were also many complete flops and many who just turned out to be average RL players.

Clubs not being able to sign RU players as simply as before has certainly made them focus more on youth development, which is no bad thing.

This is a good point. Considering we no longer have Union stars and short-term Aussies and Kiwis, we have certainly done well to plug the gaps. 

There were an awful lot duffs from Union, but it's those absolute gems that we now miss out on I think, we have some players who could be classed as legends from Union. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 minutes ago, Dave T said:

This is a good point. Considering we no longer have Union stars and short-term Aussies and Kiwis, we have certainly done well to plug the gaps. 

There were an awful lot duffs from Union, but it's those absolute gems that we now miss out on I think, we have some players who could be classed as legends from Union. 

I agree and that is what I was alluding to. I think with a good 80%-90% of converts we have plugged the gap or produced better ourselves. The real gems from RU would still enhance our game though. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Big Picture said:

Wikipedia says that Myler played for Widnes RUFC Colts before he signed the pro RL club and says nothing about him playing junior RL.

So what did he play at school, and with a name like that in Widnes he played league, plenty of juniors played both but if they signed from the union they received a bigger signing on fee. If you lived here in the RL towns you saw that all the time. Most ru clubs in rl towns were filled with rl players who liked the social side. And Wikipedia doesn't cover all aspects of peoples careers. 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Dave T said:

Rugby Union players have played a huge part in RL's history and I think our game is poorer for no longer having these players. There are a lot of good rugby players in Union who could be better suited to RL. 

I do still believe Wales should be an area of focus for RL clubs. 

Our school in Hull only played RU but a few of us in the team played RL at open age in our last years at school.

Very few schools, if any, in Hull (early 1970’s) played RL and yet both Hull clubs had ex RU players in their teams.  Doesn’t seem the case these days but I would go out on a limb and say that, these days, pro RL clubs could still find plenty of potentially good RL players in their own regions.  Still a lot of politics to get past though.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

12 hours ago, Big Picture said:

Tonight I watched the 1989 Charity Shield match between Widnes and Wigan in which Widnes had five RU converts (Alan Tait at fullback, Martin Offiah and Brimah Kebbie on the wings, Jonathan Davies in the centres, and Tony Myler at stand-off) in their starting lineup.  That's just a smidge under 40% of their starters in that match, and they had John Devereux and Paul Moriarty on their roster that season too.

This leads me to wonder just how high a percentage of the players in the old First Division were RU converts?  Would any of the real long time followers of the game here such as @GUBRATS, @Harry Stottleand their like happen to know?

Cheeky barsteward 

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Here is a question then.

If you had to pick an all time Great Britain backline (1 to 5) and you could only pick RU converts or RL developed players, which would it be?

  • Like 1

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Big Picture said:

Wikipedia says that Myler played for Widnes RUFC Colts before he signed the pro RL club and says nothing about him playing junior RL.

Myler would of played rugby league all through his primary school days.  Back then the Widnes schools produced some top teams and invariably did very well in the Wallace cup(Lancashire cup).

Pretty sure I read that Myler was introduced to Union at Fisher More, they didn't or more probably wouldn't play league. In Widnes senior schools Union seemed to have a monopoly on PE teachers also being Union players and the often used excuse was they couldn't get fixtures.  In Widnes, Warrington, St Heles, Wigan and Leigh that was ridiculous, they didn't want the game played.

Anyway on leaving school Myler went to the Wids from where Widnes signed him.

You could just as easily argue that Union pinched him from League.

  • Like 1

Just because you think everyone hates you doesn't mean they don't.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

55 minutes ago, Dunbar said:

Here is a question then.

If you had to pick an all time Great Britain backline (1 to 5) and you could only pick RU converts or RL developed players, which would it be?

Only players I’ve seen play

RL only

1/ Connolly 

2/ Robinson

3/ Newlove

4/ Hanley

5/ Drummond

RU only

1/ Tait

2/ Devereux

3/ Bateman

4/ Davies

5/ Offiah

 

I’d go with the RL only back line I started watching in the late 70s and it was more difficult than I thought to put together a RU only backline. Personally I’d drop Tait put Davies to fullback and pick Gibbs at centre but I don’t think he ever played for GB. 

Edited by bobbruce
  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, ELBOWSEYE said:

So what did he play at school, and with a name like that in Widnes he played league, plenty of juniors played both but if they signed from the union they received a bigger signing on fee. If you lived here in the RL towns you saw that all the time. Most ru clubs in rl towns were filled with rl players who liked the social side. And Wikipedia doesn't cover all aspects of peoples careers. 

There's a thing. When I was a kid one of the Dinner Ladies lived adjacent the school wall. Her son played  for GB RL. I was taught RU and NEVER RL. This in the heartlands of RL. We have to be careful, by rights I am a product of the RU Family. Yeah, Ok then....

TESTICULI AD  BREXITAM.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

35 minutes ago, bobbruce said:

Only players I’ve seen play

RL only

1/ Connolly 

2/ Robinson

3/ Newlove

4/ Hanley

5/ Drummond

RU only

1/ Tait

2/ Devereux

3/ Bateman

4/ Davies

5/ Offiah

 

I’d go with the RL only back line I started watching in the late 70s and it was more difficult than I thought to put together a RU only backline. Personally I’d drop Tait put Davies to fullback and pick Gibbs at centre but I don’t think he ever played for GB. 

Good call.  I would absolutely say Gibbs is valid as I meant GB eligible not necessarily if they played for GB.

With Gibbs at centre and Davies at full back the ex RU backline looks better but the RL developed team edges it for me.

Interesting to see if people feel differently if we go back a little earlier.

"The history of the world is the history of the triumph of the heartless over the mindless." — Sir Humphrey Appleby.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.



×
×
  • Create New...