THE pioneers who launched the Leeds University Rugby League side 50 years ago were hailed last week by the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group.
Those visionaries who played their first game a year later against equally committed counterparts at Liverpool University laid the foundation for what is now a nation-wide Student Rugby League, and a plaque has been unveiled at Leeds University by Vice-Chancellor Sir Alan Langlands, recognising the contributions of founders Andrew Cudbertson, Jack Abernethy, Bill Scott and the legendary former Hunslet, Workington Town and Great Britain player Cec Thompson.
An early-day motion in the Houses of Parliament, tabled by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland, stated: “This moment was also the start of student and university Rugby League as Leeds was the first university to approve Rugby League as an official sport.
“The official recognition of Rugby League at Leeds University marked the start of a widespread growth in Student Rugby League.”
Cudbertson added: “When we formed the club in 1967 it was with the sole intention of playing the sport we loved to watch.
“The moment that the Leeds Athletic Union gave us a grant and official recognition created the precedent for the game to spread elsewhere at Higher Education level.
“Fifty years on, I am delighted that University and College Rugby League is blossoming, and that so many people have had the opportunity to play Rugby League at university.
“It is fantastic that the foundation of the club has been recognised with a blue plaque, which is a tribute to all the players who have represented Leeds University in the sport. I hope that many more will have the opportunity to do so in the future, and enjoy all the physical and social benefits that University and College Rugby League has to offer.”