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GO Rugby in Liverpool

Rugby in Liverpool You may be surprised to learn that rugby has been played in Liverpool for a lot longer than football, with one of the world’s first clubs being formed in the city in 1857.

The sport continues to draw in the crowds despite tough competition from the football world, and fans are undoubtedly spoilt for choice with the top class league and union clubs on their doorsteps.

For rugby league fans there are four major clubs very close to Liverpool, which have each produced some top players and have helped secure the region’s place as a premier location for rugby league.

Founded in 1873, St Helens is the most successful club of the Super League era, winning the inaugural 1996 title, as well as the Grand Finals of 1999 and 2000. In 2001 they won the Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge, while in 2002 they finished top of the Super League, and secured their third Grand Final victory. The club is based at Knowsley Road Stadium [map] in St Helens and is a regular haunt for many Liverpudlian rugby enthusiasts.

Just a 20-minute drive from Liverpool city centre you’ll find the Wigan Warriors, who can claim to be the most successful rugby club in history with 17 League titles, 16 Challenge Cup wins and three World Club Championship wins. Since the Super League began in 1996 the club, which is based at the famous JJB Stadium [map] in Wigan, have consistently challenged for the title, winning the Grand Final in 1998.

Another Super League club on the outskirts of Liverpool is the Widnes Vikings, who have won seven Challenge Cups and three Championships along with being crowned European and World Club Champions in 1989. They play at the Halton Stadium [map] in Widnes.

With six Challenge Cups and three Championships under their belt the Warrington Wolves is another of the elite rugby league clubs, who play at Wilderspool Stadium [map] in Warrington.

Liverpool’s new kid on the block is the Liverpool Buccaneers, which formed in 2002 as part of the Rugby League's expansion plans. They play in the Rugby League Conference North West Division and home games are played at Sefton RUFC [map] in West Derby, Liverpool.

For rugby union fans there is just as much choice and a lot of talent to see, with Merseyside’s rugby union clubs producing some top England players, including Austin Healey, Kyran Bracken and Ben Johnston.

Situated 15 miles from Liverpool city centre is Orrell RUFC, which has close links with Wigan Warriors RLFC and competes in National Division One. Home games are played at its Edge Hall Road [map] base.

Formed in 1882, and based a few miles north of Liverpool, Waterloo RUFC helped to develop the talents of Healey, Bracken, and Johnston – some of whom started with junior clubs on Merseyside. All have now moved on to other teams around the country leaving Waterloo RUFC in National League Three North in 2002.

Liverpool’s historic rugby union club, formed in 1857, moved out of the city when it merged with St Helens in the 1980s to become Liverpool St Helens. The team plays in National League Three North and is based at Moss Lane in St Helens.

Two other rugby union teams worth watching if you have chance are New Brighton, based at Reeds Lane [map] on the Wirral and Birkenhead Park, who play at Park Road North in Birkenhead. New Brighton play in the National League Three North while Birkenhead Park play in the league below, known as North One.


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