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Irish provinicial teams could point the way for Yorkshire’s rugby future

March 4, 2014

Stewart Arnold, Blog editor and rugby fan, writes

The decision by Leeds Carnegie rugby union club to rename itself as Yorkshire Carnegie from next season has not been without controversy. Some Leeds supporters are naturally annoyed that the name of their city has been dropped from the club name whilst other Yorkshire teams, such as Rotherham Titans, wonder how Leeds Carnegie can pretend to represent the whole of Yorkshire. Sadly this spat has somewhat hijacked the long held view of many that Yorkshire needs a top rugby union team. That doesn’t just mean a team playing for a season or two in the Aviva Premiership and scrapping to avoid relegation, but one that is consistently in the European competition, currently the Heineken Cup.

The Heineken Cup has emerged as the premier club rugby tournament over the past few years and vies with the 6 Nations Championship for outstanding rugby and has put many clubs on the map, not least the Irish provincial teams of Leinster, Munster and Ulster. These three teams have had a lot of success over the years and have engendered a sense of real pride in those provinces from their local communities. The singing of songs and the waving of flags are just part of a typical home (and indeed away) match experience. We in Yorkshire can only look on in envy as 18,000 will pack into Ravenhill, the recently extended home of Ulster, when they play in the Heineken Cup quarter final shortly. Beyond cricket, we are currently poorly served by teams representing ‘all Yorkshire’.

The glamour of the European-wide Cup is a lure for all Yorkshire teams. There is a lot of the season left before we can call the Championship but clearly Leeds is very well placed for promotion but there are up to four teams in it, including Rotherham. It could be that a team called Yorkshire is in the top division next year. What seems a long way off is that team competing in the European Cup on a consistent basis. Could it be that, in years to come though, despite its controversial birth, Yorkshire Carnegie fulfils the same totemic place in the hearts of the people of ‘God’s own county’ that supporters of Ulster and Leinster have for their provincial rugby teams as they triumph in Europe?

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3 Comments
  1. Yorkshire is and has been for over one hundred years solid Rugby League territory. Personally couldn’t care less if we don’t have representation among the ‘ra-ra’ boys. Now a Yorkshire RL team to face the Aussies so we don’t have watered down Lancashire softies representing us would be a great idea!

  2. mark permalink

    its a poor idea that won’t help grow rugby union in Yorkshire, it just represents a shame for rugby in Leeds. Popularity is created through success, not geographic affiliation. Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos respective fanbases come from all over Yorkshire and they both could justifiably claim to be brands that transcend their city of origin and represent Yorkshire as a whole, despite the fact they carry the name of Leeds. If a name change was really necessary a better choice would have been West Yorkshire Carnegie or West Riding Carnegie, that way it still represents a larger area while keeping a closer connection with Leeds and Rotherham can continue to represent Rotherham without having to play against ‘Yorkshire’

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