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Harold Wagstaff

Harold Wagstaff
Personal information
Full name Harold Wagstaff
Nickname Waggy
Born (1891-05-09)9 May 1891
Holmfirth, West Yorkshire, England
Died 19 July 1939(1939-07-19) (aged 48)
Playing information
Position Centre
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1906–25 Huddersfield 436 175 12 549
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1908–23 Yorkshire 15 4 0 12
1909–23 England 9 7 3 27
1911–22 Great Britain 12 2 0 6
Source: [1]

Harold Wagstaff (9 May 1891 – 19 July 1939) was an English rugby league footballer of the early 20th century. He played as a Centre and was nicknamed the Prince of Centres. A captain of the Great Britain national team, he also played representative football for England and Yorkshire.


  • Biography 1
    • Professional playing career 1.1
      • 1900s 1.1.1
      • 1910s 1.1.2
      • 1920s 1.1.3
    • Post-playing 1.2
  • References 2
  • External links 3


Wagstaff was born in the village of Underbank within Holmfirth on 9 May 1891[2] and first played at local amateur side, Underbank Rangers, aged 14.

Professional playing career


Wagstaff's first professional game, for Huddersfield in 1906, was at the age of 15 years and 175 days. He was thus the youngest person to play professional rugby league. He then became the youngest representative in rugby league football when he turned out for Yorkshire age 17 years and 141 days,[3] and a few months later made his début for England against the first ever touring Australian side: the 'First Kangaroos' of 1908.


By 1912 he was appointed captain of Huddersfield, aged 19.[4] In 1914 he was made captain of Great Britain, a post held during that year's tour of Australia and New Zealand. He was captain in the famous 'Rorke's Drift' match on 4 July 1914.[5]

Harold Wagstaff played Centre, i.e. number 4, and was captain in Huddersfield's 2-8 defeat by Wakefield Trinity in the 1910 Yorkshire Cup final during the 1910–11 season at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 3 December 1910, played Right-Centre, i,e, number 3, and scored a try in the 22-10 victory over Hull Kingston Rovers in the 1911 Yorkshire Cup final during the 1911–12 season at Belle Vue, Wakefield on Saturday 25 November 1911, and played Centre, i.e. number 3, and scored 2-tries in the 31-0 victory over Hull in the 1914 Yorkshire Cup final during the 1914–15 season at Headingley Stadium, Leeds on Saturday 28 November 1914.

During his career as the captain of the Huddersfield team, known as The Team of all The Talents, he led them to victory in the Rugby League Challenge Cup, the Championship Trophy, the Yorkshire Cup, and the Yorkshire League in 1915. They thus became the second of only three teams ever to win All Four Cups, the others being Hunslet (1908) and Swinton (1928).

Wagstaff was also stationed in Egypt during World War I.


Wagstaff once again captained Great Britain on their 1920 tour of Australasia. In November that year, rugby league's first players' union, the 'Northern Rugby Union Players' Union was founded in Huddersfield under the chairmanship of Wagstaff.

Wagstaff played his last Test match in January 1922, when he helped Great Britain beat Australia and regain the Ashes.[6]

His career had lasted for 19 years until his retirement in 1925.


Wagstaff was the manager of the Royal Swan Hotel, Westgate, Huddersfield,[7] and died in 1939. In 1988 he was inducted into the British Rugby League Hall of Fame.[8]

He was one of five famous players to feature on a set of British stamps issued in 1995 to commemorate the centenary of Rugby League.

Wagstaff and his contribution to Anglo-Australian rugby league culture were the subject of 2003's annual Tom Brock Lecture, given by Tony Collins.


  1. ^ Gate, Robert (2003). Rugby League Hall of Fame. Stroud: Tempus. p. 209.  
  2. ^ "Harold Wagstaff". (Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.). Retrieved 20 February 2011. 
  3. ^ Norris McWhirter, Donald McFarlan (1992). The Guinness Book of Records 1992. Guinness World Records Limited. p. 290.  
  4. ^  
  5. ^ Kearney, L. H. (16 March 1940). "40,000 Cheered When Wagstaff's 1914 Team Beat Australians With Eleven Men".  
  6. ^ Deryck Marshall Schreuder, Stuart Ward (2008). Australia's empire. Oxford University Press. p. 353.  
  7. ^ "Huddersfield v Keighley Match Programme Monday 24 April 1939" (PDF). 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013. 
  8. ^ "Harold Wagstaff". (UK: The  

External links

  • Harold Wagstaff at
  • England Statistics at
  • Great Britain Statistics at
  • Statistics at
  • The Legend of Rorke's Drift - Wagstaff's account of the 1914 Australia game.
  • Virtual Rugby League Hall of Fame - Harold Wagstaff
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