A unique exhibition was held in St George’s Square, Huddersfield on Saturday 29 August 2020 to commemorate the 125th anniversary of the formation of Rugby League.
An unprecedented collection of rugby league trophies and cups was gathered together in one place including the Coral Challenge Cup, Betfred Super League Grand Final Trophy and the Men’s and Wheelchair Rugby League World Cup trophies. The exhibition was organised by Kirklees Council in collaboration with partners Rugby Football League, Rugby League Cares and Banana Kick. There were opportunities for rugby league fans to have a souvenir photo taken amongst the trophies.
As well as the historic anniversary, the exhibition marked the beginning of Kirklees’ journey to the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 when a quarter final match will be held at the John Smith’s Stadium on 12 November. The celebrations also marked the start of the programme to develop the first ever National Rugby League Museum with the shadow board, being set up to oversee progress in the next twelve months, meeting for the first time after seeing the exhibition. This new museum is to be established in the George Hotel where 21 Northern teams met on 29 August 1895 and 20 voted to break away from the Rugby Football Union to form their own league.
Cllr Shabir Pandor, Leader of Kirklees Council, said, “We celebrated the 125th anniversary of the formation of Rugby League with an exhibition of many of the game’s cups and trophies. I was really proud to hear that Batley, Liversedge and Huddersfield clubs were 3 of the original teams that came together all those years ago to ensure working class players got the rewards and recognition they rightly deserved. It was great to share this special occasion with rugby league fans and our key partners in the development of the new National Rugby League Museum – the RFL, Rugby League Cares and the University of Huddersfield. This celebration marked the next step in the Rugby League story, the first meeting of the new National Rugby League Museum’s shadow board. The board will be working to bring Rugby League home to its birth place – Huddersfield’s George Hotel. Our Huddersfield Blueprint is based on years of research and consultation with local people, businesses and organisation and the Rugby League Museum, a unique attraction for visitors from across the world, is a key part of this exciting plan for the future of Huddersfield.”
Cllr Rob Walker, Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Culture and Environment at Kirklees Council, said “The Shadow Board for the National Rugby League Museum held our first inaugural meeting in Heritage Quay at the University of Huddersfield this weekend. We agreed a strategy to develop the Museum and over the next few months we will make serious progress towards a business plan and tourism strategy, and agree an approach for the future management of our Rugby League Museum.”
Cllr Naheed Mather, Cabinet Member for Greener Kirklees, said “I was thrilled to spend my Saturday celebrating 125 years of Rugby League by kicking off the next 125 with these concrete plans to secure the sport’s future in Kirklees, and a fascinating exhibition of some of the game’s top trophies.”
As part of the 125 celebrations, the Huddersfield BID launched an interactive Rugby League trail around Huddersfield Town Centre. Members of the public can learn more about rugby league by scanning QR codes located around Huddersfield Town Centre which guide fans through some of the game’s most historic moments.