Great Britain national rugby league team

Great Britain national rugby league team

Infobox rugby league nation
Name = Great Britain
Badge = Great Britain rugby league crest.jpg
Badge_size = 100px
Nickname = The Lions
Association = Rugby Football League
Region = Europe
Coach = flagicon|Australia Tony Smith
Captain = Jamie Peacock
Most caps = flagicon|ENG Mick Sullivan (46)
flagicon|ENG Gary Schofield (46)
Top try-scorer = flagicon|ENG Mick Sullivan (41)
Top point-scorer = flagicon|ENG Neil Fox (228)
Home Stadium =
RLIF Rank =
First game = flagicon|New Zealand New Zealand 6 - 14 Great Britain flagicon|Great Britain (Headingley, England; 18 January 1908)
Largest win = flagicon|Fiji Fiji 4 - 72 Great Britain flagicon|Great Britain (Suva, Fiji; October 1996)
Largest loss = flagicon|Australia Australia 64 - 10 Great Britain flagicon|Great Britain (Sydney, Australia; July 2002)
World cup apps = 9
World cup first = 1954
World cup best = Winners, 1954; 1960; 1972

Great Britain was traditionally one of the major national teams playing rugby league. The team was administered by the Rugby Football League (RFL), and was commonly nicknamed "The Lions" or "Great Britain Lions". In 2006, the RFL announced that after the 2007 All Golds Tour [] the Great Britain team would be retired, and that players would be able to represent England, Wales and Scotland at the Test level. It is planned that the Great Britain team will come together only for occasional tours, similar to The Lions rugby union team,


Great Britain were one of the strongest teams in rugby league, though usually playing second fiddle to Australia. They won the Rugby League World Cup on three occasions: 1954, 1960 and 1972. Since 1995 the RFL have preferred to send the home nations as separate teams for World Cup purposes. Great Britain continued to compete as a test playing nation both home and away (unlike the British and Irish Lions rugby union team, who are a touring only team playing sporadically). They competed against Australia for The Ashes, and New Zealand for the Baskerville Shield, as well the Tri-Nations series with both Australia and New Zealand. Great Britain also played in series and tours against other nations such as France, Papua New Guinea and Fiji.

Titles, selection and identity

As stated above, there was often some confusion as to which “nation” the Lions represented. The team was originally known as the "Northern Union XIII" in reference to the name of the sport's governing body. After 1922 the name "The Lions" was first used. In 1948 the team became known as "Great Britain" for the Ashes Series. During the 1990s the Rugby Football League expanded this to "Great Britain and Northern Ireland", and the jersey bore the name "British Isles XIII". In 2004 the "...and Northern Ireland" was dropped from the title, however, the Northern Irish shamrock continued to form part of the RFL's crest and "British Isles XIII" remained on the jersey. At matches, the team was represented by the Union Flag and the singing of God Save the Queen, both symbols of the United Kingdom. The practice of a UK-wide team being called "Great Britain" has a precedent with the Great British Olympic team. The formal name of the Olympic team includes "and Northern Ireland", however. In Australia, the Great Britain team was often erroneously referred to as England, most notably by television commentator Phil Gould. The team continued to compete until the 2007 All Golds Tour: henceforth, the Great Britain team will now be reserved for Lions tours of the Southern Hemisphere. According to Richard Lewis, chairman of the Rugby Football League:

:"It will bring consistency. What I am passionate about is the international game being consistent. To me, it has always been illogical that we play as Great Britain for three or four years, and when the World Cup comes along, suddenly we become England. In the major competitions, which will be most years, we will play as England. That will also allow Scotland and Wales to develop. We have then floated the concept of Great Britain to tour in 2010. It would be a tour as opposed to playing a formal competition, and I wouldn't restrict that to just Australia and New Zealand." [,10069,1656696,00.html]

:"Next year (2007) will be the last time Great Britain will play. They will be England after that." []


Initially Great Britain were represented by a team made up of players from the Northern Rugby Football Union, known simply as the "Northern Union" side. Their first ever match was a win against a touring New Zealand side in January, 1908. The following season Great Bitain played host to the Australian side. The Northern Union's first match against the Kangaroos was a 22-all draw.

In June, 1910 the Northern Union embarked on its first tour of Australasia.

ee also

* England national rugby league team
* Wales national rugby league team
* Scotland national rugby league team

External links

* [ The Rugby Football League’s Great Britain pages]
* [ Unofficial Great Britain Rugby League ]

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