Leeds Rhinos Nostalgia: Leeds defy the big freeze to finally see off Barrow in the Challenge Cup

Crowd at Headingley.
Crowd at Headingley.
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IT WAS a bit chilly in the north of England 69 years ago.

The early months of 1947 brought a big freeze, with heavy snowfall and severe frost lasting for more than five weeks from early February.

Leeds were due to play Barrow at Headingley in the Challenge Cup first round, first leg on February 8 – and the tie eventually went ahead exactly a month later.

Even then Leeds only got the game played at a cost, having to fork out £400 – a huge sum at the time – to have snow cleared from the pitch and terraces.

The club’s enterprise paid off as a 26,000 rugby-starved crowd flocked to see a 12-0 victory.

Leeds led 2-0 at half-time through a drop goal by Tommy Cornelius. The same player added a try in the second half, Gareth Price also crossed and Bert Cook converted both.

If Leeds management thought getting the first leg played was an effort, that was nothing compared to events of the following week.

The Loiners travelled to the north west on the Wednesday, with the game due to be played the following day.

Heavy snow meant Craven Park was ruled out, Wigan’s Central Park was unavailable for the same reason and conditions at Headingley were just as bad.

After discussions between both clubs, Barrow agreed to catch an early train to Leeds on the Thursday, with a view to playing at Headingley that afternoon.

Leeds made the same journey by coach and battled through appalling conditions, arriving at 4pm, only to discover their opponents had not left Barrow.

The game was called off and rearranged for two days later, March 15, at Headingley. Another 26,000 crowd saw Leeds record a repeat win, 6-0 through tries by Dai Jenkins and Price.


Leeds 12

(Tries: Cornelius, Price. Goals Cook 2. Drop goal: Cornelius)

Barrow 0

March 8, 1947. Challenge Cup first round, first leg.

Leeds: Cook, Cornelius, Price, Williams, Whitehead, Williams, Jenkins, Brereton, Murphy, Prosser, Watson, Clues, Owens.

Barrow: Jones, Lewthwaite, Knowelden, Bowker, Francis, Horne, Bowyer, Longman, Woods, Hornby, Ayres, Jenkins, Stone.

Referee: CF Appleton.

Attendance: 26,000.