Pathway of fame - Foundation of Rugby League

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Foundation of Rugby League

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The story behind the plaque

This plaque commemorates the foundation of Rugby League in 1895. The league officially began at a meeting of twenty-one delegates from northern rugby clubs. They met at the George Hotel in Huddersfield on 29 August 1895. Twenty of them went on to form the Northern Rugby Football Union, including St Helens and Wigan. However, the seeds of a breakaway had been sown earlier over the issue of payments to players. The Rugby Football Union consistently refused to sanction any payment to compensate for wages lost whilst playing. These were known as ‘broken time payments.’

Although many players in northern clubs were working men who lost money by playing rugby, the RFU was determined to ensure the game remained entirely amateur. Their refusal to allow any payment led directly to the breakaway of the Northern Union. The Northern Union was officially renamed Rugby League in 1922 in order to achieve consistency with Australia and New Zealand. 

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