Harry surprises rugby league players on sport’s 125th birthday

The Duke of Sussex has surprised rugby league players to help celebrate the sport’s 125th birthday.

Harry, who is patron of the Rugby Football League, talked by video link to players from all sections of the game about what it means to them and led the group in a set-of-six quiz as part of the birthday festivities.

He said: “It can bring so many families together, bring so many people together… it doesn’t matter whether you’re in the stands, whether you’re the groundsman, whether you’re a player, whether you’re a fan or whether you’re a first-time watcher, every single person is bound by this family feeling.”

The duke surprised the group by introducing a special guest – former Wigan and Great Britain captain Ellery Hanley.

Ellery Hanley
Ellery Hanley

Rugby league is one of the few sports that can point to the time and date of its founding – 6.30pm on August 29 1895, when 21 club representatives met at the George Hotel in Huddersfield to resolve a dispute with the Rugby Football Union over broken-time payments to players and voted to break away from the governing body.

The result was the formation of the Northern Rugby Football Union which later became the Rugby Football League, and officials gathered in St George’s Square in Huddersfield on Saturday to mark the anniversary.

The function was organised by Kirklees Council, which recently took ownership of the George Hotel which will become home to the new National Rugby League Museum.

International Rugby League chairman Greg Barclay sent his best wishes to the organisers, saying: “This is a proud day for everyone involved in our great sport.

“We have a very long and proud history which deserves to be recognised across the sporting landscape.”