Earlier this week, the RFL announced that two more Rugby League legends are to be inducted into the most exclusive club in the game – the Rugby League Hall of Fame.
The identity of the two greats has been kept a closely guarded secret ahead of the event next month, where they will join the 21 current members of the Hall of Fame in a ceremony and dinner at Huddersfield’s John Smith’s Stadium.
There have only been five previous ceremonies to induct members into the Hall of Fame, with the original 1988 announcement, 1989, 2000, 2005 and 2013 the five occasions in question. Last year saw four men inducted; Lewis Jones, Martin Offiah MBE, League Express columnist Garry Schofield MBE and Mick Sullivan. But who could be next to join those four and 17 other greats of the game? We’ve selected four from the very tough criteria (which is detailed below) that makes only a select few eligible. Anyone we’ve missed out? Join the debate by commenting below.
Criteria for nomination into Rugby League Hall of Fame
Membership of the Rugby League Hall of Fame is restricted exclusively to the greatest Rugby League players of all time. Each player must have:
• A record of outstanding achievement at the very highest levels of the game;
• A reputation that transcends the era in which he played;
• Made a contribution to the game that will last as long as rugby league is played.
To be eligible for nomination to the Rugby League Hall of Fame, players must have: Played professional Rugby League in the UK for at least 10 years, and played their last professional match in the UK at least 10 years before the date of the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
To this day, Shaun Edwards is still the most decorated player in the history of Rugby League. He won a record eight championships and nine Challenge Cup trophies during his time with Wigan, and is also an inductee in the Wigan Hall of Fame. Of all the men who are in contention for induction into the Rugby League Hall of Fame next month, Shaun Edwards’ name has to be somewhere near the top. A legend at both club and international level, the name Shaun Edwards would fit perfectly in this illustrious club.
As icons of Rugby League go, they don’t come much bigger than the late, great, Clive Sullivan. Sullivan created sporting history in 1972, when he was selected as captain of Great Britain – the first black captain of any British national sporting side. His club career was absolutely incredible, scoring a whopping 250 tries for Hull during his time there, as well as playing for rivals Hull KR with great distinction. He was part of the GB side that historically won the 1972 Rugby League World Cup – and his memory is forever remembered via both Hull clubs contesting a pre-season friendly in his honour every year – with the Clive Sullivan Memorial Trophy the prize on offer.
Like Shaun Edwards, the bulk of Andy Gregory’s success came at club level with Wigan, playing for the club between 1986 and 1992. There, he became the first man to win five Challenge Cup winners medals, after joining for a then-world record fee of £130,000. He was also the first man to win the prestigious Lance Todd Trophy twice, and he also lit up the international stage, too. He is the only man to have played in six Ashes series against Australia – with Wally Lewis once describing him as one of the toughest players he had played against during his incredible career.
A slightly left-field selection perhaps, but the service and contribution Malcolm Reilly has provided to the game of Rugby League over the last 45 years cannot be brought into question. A Lance Todd trophy winner during his time with Castleford, he also had an incredible spell in Australia with Manly, becoming the third Englishman to play for a team that won a Premiership in Australia at that time. At international level, Reilly was part of the 1970 Ashes winning Great Britain side, before coaching the national team for a prolonged period, too.