Malcolm Reilly hopes rugby league’s museum will bring welcome recognition

Malcolm Reilly has welcomed plans for a new Rugby League Heritage Museum at Huddersfield’s George Hotel. Picture: SWpix.comMalcolm Reilly has welcomed plans for a new Rugby League Heritage Museum at Huddersfield’s George Hotel. Picture:
Malcolm Reilly has welcomed plans for a new Rugby League Heritage Museum at Huddersfield’s George Hotel. Picture:
Great Britain legend Malcolm Reilly hopes the imminent arrival of a dedicated national museum to rugby league will see the sport finally gain the recognition it deserves.

The former Castleford loose forward, rated one of the greatest forwards to ever play the game, was in Huddersfield yesterday for the announcement that a first-ever National Rugby League Museum will be created at the town’s iconic George Hotel.

Famous for being the birthplace of rugby league, after 21 clubs met there in 1895 to agree a breakaway from the Rugby Football Union, it is clearly a fitting location.

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But Reilly, 72, believes a museum can hold more significance in years to come for the future of the sport, not just as a celebration of its past.

“It will be good to get a designated museum like this,” he told The Yorkshire Post, after a Hall of Fame was once housed in Leeds and a Rugby League Heritage Centre was also based in the George Hotel basement from 2005 to 2013.

“The game itself doesn’t get the recognition it should do. I hope that this is a step in the right direction. Huddersfield has its own long history with the sport and it can only be positive.

“This is a good place to have a national museum; it’s got some tradition hasn’t it?

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“I think this is great for the town and the game in general.”

Although the make-up of the museum has not been finalised yet, there will surely be some references to Reilly, a member of the sport’s Hall of Fame.

It is coming up to the 50th anniversary of the 1970 Ashes tour series win over Australia.

Reilly was a central figure on that tour and it remains the last time any Lions or England side defeated the Kangaroos in a series or major tournament.

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“It does feel like 50 years ago actually!” he joked, with England hoping to finally end that barren run when it hosts the 2021 World Cup next year.

“I just keep my fingers crossed we can put a decent performance up and get some credibility on the international scene.

“The last time I toured out there as a player was the last time we won the Ashes so it is a long time ago.”

Although the sport remains on lockdown, the former Leeds, Castleford, Halifax, Hudddersfield and Lions coach is positive it can bounce back.

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He said; “Of course it can do – and it will do. I don’t worry about that. We’ve just got to be patient and smart. When the time’s right we’ll go forward. It’s a great game with a great future.”

Rugby Football League chairman Simon Johnson added: “I congratulate Rugby League Cares on this fresh and much-needed focus on celebrating the rich and unique history of our great sport of Rugby League.

“It is high time that there is a National Rugby League Museum to celebrate our sport’s rich heritage. How fitting then, that, as we celebrate the birth of our sport 125 years ago, the location of that radical meeting should be the chosen location.”

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