Throwback: Shaun Edwards on the move

New bull, Shaun Edwards signs for the Bradford Bulls Rugby League Team at Bradford today (Wednesday). The former Great Britain Captain is joining the Championship's winning side to strengthen the team in their 1998 Super League bid. Photo by John Giles/PA.

His bridges might well be burnt with rugby league after the shenanigans over the Wigan coaching job last year, but you can’t deny Shaun Edwards’ place in history.

The most decorated player ever, he won 37 major trophies and was the 25th inductee to the rugby league hall of fame.

All of those honours came with the famous, dominant Wigan team of the 80s and 90s, though he did pick up a Challenge Cup runners-up medal with London Broncos in 1999, when a win would arguably have been more famous than the defeat his former team-mates suffered to Sheffield the previous year.

London Broncos’ captain Shaun Edwards misery is piled on by another Leeds Rhinos try

Edwards, 54 this month, had departed Wigan in 1997 to join the Broncos, but on this day 23 years ago, he was unveiled as a Bradford player.

Having moved to London from Wigan to be closer to his girlfriend Heather Small and their son James, the return up north raised a few eyebrows but it proved shortlived – after just 12 appearances for the Bulls, he would return to the Broncos where he would see out his career.

Bradford had been dealing with speculation about Edwards almost immediately after unveiling him in October 1997 in a £30,000 deal.

In February 1998, they had to “react angrily” to stories linking Edwards with a return to Wigan, who reportedly sounded out Bradford about signing him back.

Then Bulls coach Matthew Elliott was quoted in the local press: “We are not interested at all in such a move.

They can forget it, although we might consider a swap for Jason Robinson and Gary Connolly!”

On the pitch, Edwards had upset the Bradford apple cart somewhat – apparently not getting on with influential Australian Graeme Bradley.

His 12 appearances saw seven wins, six of which came in Super League – his final game for Bradford was an 11-10 defeat away at Salford.

The Bulls team that day included Edwards at half-back alongside Robbie Paul, and featured the likes of mainstays Stuart Spruce, Tevita Vaikona, Mike Forshaw and Stuart Fielden, as well as current Catalans coach Steve McNamara at loose forward.

After making a total of 50 appearances for London Broncos in his two short spells, Edwards disappeared from rugby league’s conscience, forging an admirable career as a rugby union coach with Wasps and then the Wales national team.

His projected return to the 13-man code was seen as something of a coup, that was until it was revealed he hadn’t actually signed a contract to coach Wigan from 2020 at all, despite being unveiled at a press conference.

He backed out, took a job as defence coach with France rugby union, and the Warriors moved on with Edwards having tainted one of the most glorious rugby league careers there will ever likely to be.

6 Comments

  1. How come that the ordinary rugby fan, Union or League, can ‘see’ and comprehend these things, but the heirachy cannot?
    A man of Shaun Edwards’ pedigree should have been awarded what ever deal he asked for.
    A typical example; England RFU allowed Wales to have the benefit of his vast experience. Even then, Wales cocked-up
    by not keeping him!
    Gerald Jones, Wales.

    • I’m not surprised he didn’t last 2 minutes at the Bulls, he came in with the big I am, thinking he was bigger than the team. Unfortunately there’s no I in team or Shaun Edwards, only selfishness. As the bulls proved, we didn’t need him and nobody liked him. Wales and Wigan are both better off without him and so is rugby league

      • yer he alway was a bid head and his marrage to the m peoples singer only lasted about 2 years too i think, I can remember seeing him and a few others all off their faces in back to basics club in leeds in the early 90’s all been the big i am !

  2. One in a million person, that can coach what they achieved on the pitch. Highly decorated in a phenomenal team, unable to achieve same success with other playing moves, but experience in his playing time leads to opportunities that he took, and excelled in.
    Don’t tarnish a great servant to the game with a failed media scoup.

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