Six Tackles: Rugby League MBEs

6. Staurt Cummings – The only referee to be honoured, Cummings was made an MBE earlier this year. He qualified as a Rugby League referee in 1988 and was awarded senior status in 1991. He then fielded questions from fans about refereeing decisions and explained the laws as the RFL’s Match Official’s Director.

5. Paul Sculthorpe – Sculthorpe began his career with Warrington, but it was at St Helens where he made his name. In the halves or at loose forward he won the Man of Steel award twice, and was a key player for Great Britain and England.

4. Ray French – In his playing career French was a dual-code international, but it was in commentary where he became synonymous with rugby league. He commentated for the BBC on every Challenge Cup final between 1982 and 2008.

3. Jeff Grayshon – As a prop or second-row Grayshon played for a number of clubs across Yorkshire in the 70’s, 80’s and 90’s – the era of contested scrums. The Great Britain representative also had a stint with Australian side Cronulla.

2. Tommy Sale – ‘Mr Rugby Leigh’ devoted more than 80 years of his life to the sport – as a player, coach, administrator and fan. After his initial involvement as a scoreboard operator for his beloved Leigh at the age of 10, Sale would go on to become a legend at the club, as well as enjoying spells at Warrington and Widnes. 

1. Steve Prescott – The world of rugby league came to a stand still when the former St Helens, Hull and Wakefield full-back sadly lost his battle with a rare form of cancer last year – and rightly so. Prescott not only had a distinguished playing career, that included caps for both England and Ireland, he also showed true courage during his illness by founding the Steve Prescott Foundation. To raise money he took part in marathons and sponsored walks, amongst other gruelling challenges such as boxing matches and parachute jumps.

Selected players with British honours:

MBE – Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

OBE – Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Eric Ashton MBE – Wigan and Great Britain centre, also a World Cup winner.

Billy Boston MBE – Welsh winger who played for Wigan, Blackpool Borough and Great Britain.

Roy Christian MBE – New Zealand World Cup captain, who went on to become a minister in the Presbyterian Church.

Damian Clayton MBE – The RAF’s ‘Mr Rugby League’, he was a major factor in his beloved sport being recognised officially by the Armed Forces.

Shaun Edwards OBE – A dual-code international half-back who emerged early as a schoolboy talent.

Andy Farrell OBE – Wigan’s on-pitch leader, won the Man of Steel award twice and was also a Great Britain international before his code-switch.

Trevor Foster MBE – Foster was a dual-code Wales international who made his name in rugby league at Bradford.

Neil Fox MBE – Player and coach for a number of Yorkshire clubs, and Great Britain.

Geoff Gunney MBE – Hunslet through and through, Gunney – a Great Britain international – spent 22 years playing for the club.

Ellery Hanley MBE – Bradford, Wigan, Leeds and NRL player. Scored 20 tries in 36 Great Britain caps.

Chris Hesketh MBE – A World Cup winning international, who also toured as captain of the British Lions.

Roger Millward MBE – Goalkicking Great Britain stand-off. Played for Castleford, Hull KR and Cronulla at club level.

Alex Murphy OBE – St Helens, Leigh and Warrington scrum-half, went on to coach and also commentate in the media.

Martin Offiah MBE – Great Britain winger, scored 444 tries in 424 club games.

Jamie Peacock MBE – The only MBE still playing, won a total of eight Super League titles with Bradford and Leeds.

Kris Radlinski MBE – Great Britain international full-back, who spent his whole career with hometown club Wigan.

Jason Robinson OBE – Mainly honoured due to being a world cup winner in rugby union, but his exploits in rugby league are also fondly remembered.

Garry Schofield OBE – Voted best player in the world in 1990, went into coaching and punditry after retirement.

Clive Sullivan MBE – A Great Britain and Wales international winger, best remembered with both Hull and Hull KR.

David Watkins MBE – The only player to have captained both the British and Irish Lions rugby union side and the Great Britain rugby league team.

Johnny Whiteley MBE – Great Britain forward and coach, spent his whole career with Hull FC.

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