St. Helens RFC
St. Helens RFC or the Saints, are an English rugby league club based in the town of St. Helens, Merseyside. They are current members of the professional top-flight European competition, the Engage Super League. St.Helens are the most successful club in modern English Rugby League history.
St. Helens Rugby Football Club was founded in 1873, and was moved to the Knowsley Road ground in 1890.
In 1895 St. Helens joined twenty-one other clubs in the breakaway Northern Rugby Football Union following a meeting of clubs at The George Hotel, Huddersfield. Although full-time professionalism was illegal players were allowed broken time payments of up to a maximum of six shillings per day for loss of earnings through playing rugby and reducing the number of players from fifteen to thirteen. Some other changes were made in an attempt to make the game more interesting for spectators but the use of a round ball was eventually dropped after some trial games.
The Saints first played in a vertically striped blue and white jersey before changing to the predominantly white with red vee in 1961. The original colours were re-adopted for the rugby league centenary season in 1995.
Despite contesting the first ever Challenge Cup in 1897, which they lost 10-3 to the "Gallant Youths" of Batley, St. Helens had to wait until 1927 before collecting their first silverware for winning the Lancashire Cup. A modicum of success saw them win the Lancashire League in 1929-30 & 1931-32 and the National Championship also in 1931-32 but they returned to mediocrity until the arrival of Jim Sullivan as coach in 1952. Under Sullivan's control the club won the National Championship in 1952-53 & 1958-59, the Challenge Cup in 1955-56, the Lancashire Cup in 1953-54 and the Lancashire League in 1952-53, 1956–57, 1958-59 & 1959-60.
During the 1960s, Saints became a major force in the game and won two more Challenge Cups two National Championships, the Lancashire Cup six times and the Lancashire League five times. Success continued into the seventies with two more Challenge Cup victories, 2 Championship wins and 2 Premiership titles, but after 1977 the silverware seemed to elude them apart from a Premiership title and Lancashire Cup win in the 1984-85 season.
With the inauguration of the Super League in 1996 the Saints' bad luck changed and they amassed five Super League titles, six Challenge Cups and two World Club Challenge victories.
St. Helens have played at Knowsley Road since 1890. The ground has a capacity of 17,500 but a plans are underway to build a modern stadium on the site of a disused glassworks. The club is sponsored by glass manufacturer Pilkington who are also based in the town. The current St.Helens home kit is all white with a large red vee across the chest.
World Club Challenge
Notes & references