League: Pre-Season

Pre-Season Games

Rotherham Titans


During the 1920s and 1930s the club regularly turned out two teams and on odd occasions three, normally in school holiday periods when local 6th-formers played.[6]

Rotherham in common with many clubs shut down during the Second World War and the club was reformed in 1946 at Clifton Lane. The next fifteen years were a struggle in terms of running teams and raising finance to improve facilities. The club received a big boost when a local secondary modern school started rugby and soon a regular supply of players were coming through.[6]Rugby started to be played in many local schools and the arrival of a number of Physical Education teachers in the area who were rugby specialists helped both the playing standard and the club organisation.[6]

Prior to the advent of a national league structure, Rotherham struggled to get fixtures against establishment sides, largely from the south of England, meaning when the league was established they were placed well down the league structure despite always showing an ambition to develop. This perceived snub by other top teams, and placement at the bottom of the rugby hierarchy fired the initial drive up the leagues and led to several former players such as Mike Yarlett investing their time and resources to transform the club.

Rotherham entered league rugby in 1987 enjoying enormous success with seven subsequent promotions culminating by eventually reaching the Premiership. In the 1988–89 season, Rotherham won the North East 1 title and so began its rise up the rugby pyramid.[7] This was immediately followed up by five further promotions in six seasons to propel the club to the fourth tier of English rugby by 1995–96.

This period in the club’s development was later to be considered the start of the “golden decade”, and secured legendary status for several players including John Dudley, Richard Selkirk, Craig West and Kevin Plant. During this period Rotherham attracted some criticism for their early adoption of paying players during a period later referred to as “Shamateurism” as most progressive clubs in essence paid their players while keeping up the pretence of being Amateur clubs.

In this era, the Yorkshire Cup, still a prestigious competition in which all the top Yorkshire sides competed, became a symbolic quest for the Rotherham players and management. The competition had been dominated for the previous 25 years by Wakefield, Harrogate and the four big Leeds clubs, Headingley, Roundhay, Morley and Otley, none of whom would give Rotherham a fixture prior to the introduction of league rugby. Rotherham reached the final for the first time in their history in 1993, going down 22–5 to Otley,[8] however 2 years later there was no doubting that Rotherham had arrived as they defeated Harrogate 39-3 at Kirkstall to win the Cup for the first and to date only time.

The 1994 County Championship final at Twickenham also provided further evidence of Rotherham’s ascent to senior club status in Yorkshire, as Kevin Plant and Craig West were members of the Yorkshire side (along with soon to be Rotherham scrum-half Guy Easterby — then with Harrogate) who won the championship in exhilarating fashion with a 26–3 triumph over Durham.[9]

Summarising the success in 1995, the independent put Rotherham’s success into context saying:

Sale FC

Sale FC is a semi-professional rugby union club based at Heywood Road in Sale, Greater Manchester, England, which plays in National League 1 following promotion from National League 2 North at the end of the 2017–18 season. Premiership club Sale Sharks is a professional offshoot of Sale FC.


Formed by a team of sportsmen drawn mainly from Sale Cricket Club, Sale Football Club was founded in 1861 and is the fifth oldest surviving rugby club. In the early days of the club, rules were usually deemed unnecessary and those that were enforced were often made up on the spot. As the game began to evolve, however, the need for specified regulations became apparent and in 1865 the Minute Book was created stipulating the ten rules to be followed by all players. This is reputedly world’s oldest existing rugby rule book[citation needed] and a much treasured possession. Games were originally played on either a rented portion of Sale Cricket Club or on fields owned by local farmers. In 1905, the club bought a field at the end of Heywood Road.

Sale FC have featured many prominent international and county players. Pat Davies became their first England international in 1927 and the 1930s saw an international backline of Hal Sever (England wing), Claude Davey and Wilf Wooller (Wales centres) and Ken Fyfe (Scotland wing). Fran Cotton, Steve Smith, Dewi Morris, Richard Trickey and Jason Robinson also played at Sale.

In 1936, Sale were invited to take part in the Middlesex Sevens Cup and went on to win the competition.

Before World War II, an increase in membership meant that the club had almost outgrown facilities at Heywood Road and an additional site on Woodbourne Road was purchased. Initially this was meant to be a training ground for the junior team, but there were talks to eventually relocate the rest of the club there too, but when war was over it was instead decided to focus efforts on the redevelopment of Heywood Road. Land was sold to fund the project and the ground gradually began to evolve. A new clubhouse was built, the old bath house replaced by squash courts, changing facilities improved, floodlights installed and the commemorative Jim Birtles Stand erected.