Queen Elizabeth’s contributions to Rugby League as tributes paid

RFL chairman Simon Johnson was among the stream of leading sports officials to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II following her death at the age of 96 on Thursday.

“On behalf of the RFL and the whole Rugby League family, I express our deepest and most sincere condolences,” he said in a statement.

“The whole sport is in deep mourning at this extremely sad news.

“Rugby League was honoured to have her as our Patron until 2016, and throughout her long reign, Her Majesty’s sense of duty and commitment, her spirit and wisdom has been an example to all of us.

“We give grateful thanks for Her Majesty’s constant and positive influence on our communities over many generations.

“We send our deepest sympathy and most sincere condolences to the Royal Family, including the RFL Patron, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge.”

The Queen attended two Challenge Cup finals at Wembley – in 1960, when she presented the trophy to Wakefield Trinity captain Derek ‘Rocky’ Turner after his side’s 38-5 win over Hull, and in 1967, when Featherstone Rovers skipper Mal Dixon was the recipient after the 17-12 victory over Barrow.

Overseas, on her 1977 visit to Australia, on Sunday 13 March, she attended a Rugby League match at the Sydney Cricket Ground and met the teams. prior to the Wills Cup final between Eastern Suburbs (now Sydney Roosters) and North Sydney.

Her Majesty officially opened the British Amateur Rugby League Association’s headquarters on New North Parade, Huddersfield, on 30 November 1990.

She unveiled a plaque outside the building, which was located within striking distance of Rugby League’s birthplace at the George Hotel.

“It was a very special day for BARLA and its significance simply can’t be underestimated,” former chief executive Maurice Oldroyd later recalled.

“The Queen’s visit was obviously an historic occasion and did so much to raise our profile and status within the world of sport.”

The Queen also officially opened Leigh Sports Village in 2009, and Leigh Centurions said in a statement: “The people of our town were honoured by her presence.”

Her last interaction with Rugby League was in 2007, when she hosted that year’s New Zealand All Golds tourists with her husband Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.