Leeds Tykes

Leeds RUFC

Leeds' Yorkshire Cup winning team 1996

The origins of the formation process of Leeds RUFC go back to a letter sent by John Winterbottom, the Secretary of Headingley FC to Trevor Richmond of Morley RFC and John Hopkins, Chairman of Roundhay RUFC.

This culminated in a meeting at the Hilton Hotel on Duncan Street in Leeds where Roundhay were represented by John Hopkins, Mike Bidgood and Harry McMaw. The concept of the three clubs merging to form one much larger club was the only topic on the agenda.

The members of Roundhay left the meeting believing that the idea certainly had merit but were uneasy at the intentions of all. The concept of a club bearing the city name appealed and Mike Bidgood spoke to John Winterbottom and a few days later a company was formed called LEEDS RUGBY UNION FOOTBALL CLUB LTD on 6th June 1991 with the two as directors.

After further meeting during which time the three clubs consulted their members Morley withdrew from the discussions when it became apparent that the concept of selling the grounds of all three clubs and starting afresh was not acceptable to their members who would wish any merged club to be based at Scatcherd Lane.

Discussions were progressing smoothly when the RFU announced in February 1992 that the leagues were going to be re-organised at the end of the 1992- 93 season. This precipitated a decision that the merger should take place sooner rather than later. Roundhay had just beaten Headingley at Chandos and the clubs finished the season level on points.

The merger took place on 5th July 1992 and during the summer daily meetings took place between Mike Palmer- Jones, Mike Bidgood, John Hopkins and John Winterbottom to sort the detail. The first game played at Kirkstall between Leeds RUFC and Hull lonians on 1st September 1992.

In an interesting touch of equality the starting XV included five from Roundhay and five from Headingley plus five new recruits. Glynn Thompson scored the first try and Dan Eddie came off the bench on his 21st birthday. The club enjoyed a slow start but recovered well but missed out by a point on the quest to be in the new 10 team National League Three where home and away fixtures would be played between participants for the first time.

Promotion was eventually achieved and in May 1995 published a “Five year plan” that contained a very ambitious mission statement “To be in a position to make a challenge for the 1st Division in the year 2000” (on 1st January 2000 Leeds were top of National One). Late that year, in November the club agreed to sell Kirkstall to Morrisons Supermarkets and signed a five year lease to play at Headingley Stadium with the ‘old board’ of Leeds Cricket Football and Athletic Company Ltd from the start of the 1996-97 season.

Professionalism was introduced and Leeds had recruited Colin Stephens as their first Youth Development Officer. A pivotal signing was Phil Davies who was appointed Director of Rugby and commenced in post on 1st June 1996. The club moved to Headingley Stadium and played a friendly against Swansea on 17th August 1996. Crowds were sparse to say the least in the early days, but in a surprise move Paul Caddick bought Leeds CF & A Ltd including Headingley Stadium on 29th October 1996. On the field the team was promoted at the second attempt in Phil Davies reign with some record breaking performances. Back to back home wins against Redruth in the cup and then the league by 96-0 and then 84-24 were memorable.

Off the field Leeds RUFC and Paul Caddick entered into a joint venture arrangement to trade as Leeds RUFC Ltd on 1st December 1997 taking over the company formed in June 1991. Leeds Rugby Union adopted the brand name of Leeds Tykes in July 1998 and continued to attract better players but all this was at a cost. The funds from the sale of Kirkstall had been largely used and the joint venture arrangement between Leeds RUFC and Leeds RUFC Ltd and Paul Caddick was terminated by mutual agreement on 8th January 2001 as the club strove for promotion to the top level. Leeds Tykes were promoted to the Zurich Premiership on 1st July 2001. Crowds had started to watch the higher quality fare on the pitch and friendly games against Fiji and Tonga helped as well as two huge matches against Rotherham and one against Worcester when we averaged over 5000 in those matches. 

During the period 1992-1998 130 players made their debuts for the club and 7 of these played full international rugby during their careers.

Leeds RUFC Player Debuts 1992-1998

130 players made their debuts for Leeds RUFC in the period 1st September 1992 to 30th April 1998.
7 of these played full international rugby during their careers (highlighted in yellow in the document below).