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Leeds Rhinos


Leeds Rhinos

The Leeds Rhinos are based in Headingley and are currently the reigning Super League champions. They are part of an amalgamation with the company that also finances and owns the Leeds Carnegie rugby union team. Leeds are commonly known as the second most successful rugby league team in England, falling just short of the top slot behind Wigan based on the number of challenge cups each team has won. The Rhinos nickname and newer logo are modern ideas that were added to the team in 1997 to go along with their new Super League image. The Leeds Rhinos also have the honour of being the best supported rugby team in the United Kingdom. Carnegie Stadium in Headingley has a massive capacity of 22,250 people thanks to a new stand that was recently built.

The team made it's first appearance in 1864 when the rugby craze was sweeping the nation. A local individual placed an advert in the Leeds Mercury that invited people to meet up at Woodhouse Moor two days a week from 7am to 8am. Over 500 people actually attended and from this informal meeting several rugby clubs were formed including one known as Leeds St John's. In 1870 Leeds St John's were officially formed and were colloquially referred to as the “Old Blue and Ambers”. Their initial grounds were at the Militia barracks up until 1888 when they moved to Cardigan Fields near Headingley. Initially membership to Leeds St John's was confined soley to the church classes but fortunately this was expanded and everyone who was interested was invited to join. The team was knocked out in the final round by Wakefield Trinity in 1887. Leeds St John's played their final game in 1890 before changing their name to become the “football section” of the Leeds Cricket, Football and Athletic Co for the forthcoming seasons. In 1892 they set a record by having 27,654 people attend to watch one of their games. Leeds were also one of the founding members of the Northern Union when it broke away from the Rugby Football Union in 1895.

Leeds continued having reasonable success until the 1960's when they established themselves as one of the leading rugby teams in the country by winning 3 Challenge Cups and 2 title wins. Leeds were also involved in the famous “watersplash final”, one of the most dramatic of Wembleys occasions, which was played despite heavy rain at the beginning of the game. The match ended with one of the most dramatic finishes in modern times with Leeds clinching victory over Wakefield 11-10. The teams success continued throughout the 1970's with many more visits to Wembley, victory in the Yorkshire Cup against Hull Kingston Rovers and the Challenge Cup many times. Unfortunately Leeds suffered a run of bad luck in the 1980's where they did not win very many victories at all. Even though the team is widely regarded as one of the richest rugby clubs they suffered major financial difficulties in the 1990's but were able to overcome them and return to top form in 1994 in a superb game against Wigan in the challenge cup final. Unfortunately Wigan beat Leeds on this occasion however Leeds were able to return the following year.

In 1996 the newly renamed Leeds Rhinos narrowly avoided being relegated and make a quick transformation facing Wigan at the Grand Final in 1998 at Old Trafford. Leeds then entered something of a bleak period with few victories until the Challenge Cup in 2003 where Leeds made it through to the final against Bradford. Leeds unfortunately lost in a very tense game that finished 22-20 in front of a massive 71,212 fans at the Millennium Stadium. Leeds went on to pick up their first title in 32 years in 2004 when they beat the Bradford Bulls 16-8 in the Grand Final at Old Trafford. Once again Leeds' fortunes changed as in 2005 they lost the Challenge Cup final, and for the seventh time in ten years they lost the Grand Final. In 2007 Leeds made something of a come back starting with 2 wins from 2 matches, and they look to be on top form for the 2008 season.