Who are the rugby league teams in Hull?

The River Hull divides the city of Hull into two halves. The geography of the divide is not especially significant, but in sporting terms it drives a barrier right through the city.

Most whose origins lie to the west of the river follow Hull FC. One of the oldest rugby league teams in the world, the famous black and white irregular hoops of their jersey are recognisable anywhere the game is played.

To the east of the River Hull, rugby league fans tend to support Hull Kingston Rovers. One of the most famous and evocative names in the sport, many people who have never even seen a game of rugby league on the television will have heard of the Robins, as they are nicknamed.

Hull FC are the older of the two clubs. Founded in 1865, they were also one of the clubs which founded the Northern Union in 1895, breaking away from the southern-dominated Rugby Union to help establish what became known later as the Rugby League.

Although the team now share the Kingston Communications (KC) Stadium with soccer side Hull City FC, they used to play at The Boulevard, situated on Airlie Street in West Hull, hence the club's nickname: the Airlie Birds.

The club has enjoyed great success over the years, being league champions on six occasions, the last time in 1983, and has won the Challenge Cup three times, the last occasion being in 2005.

Probably the club's most famous player is Johnny Whiteley, a loose forward of the immediate post-World War Two era who later coached the club and spent his entire career in the city, also coaching Hull KR for a spell. Welshman Roy Francis also became the first black coach in any British sport when he was appointed in 1954.

Hull Kingston Rovers, nicknamed the Robins because of their red and white colours, play at New Craven Park on Preston Road in East Hull. The club moved there from there from their previous stadium, also known as Craven Park, on Holderness Road in 1989.

Founded in 1882, Rovers were not founder members of the Northern Union like their city neighbours, but joined the new sport from rugby union in the 1897/98 season. They emerged in the 20th Century as one of the game's great names, but never really enjoyed major success until the 1980s, when both Hull clubs dominated the sport.

That was the era in which Roger Millward, who had been one of the club's great players, toook over as coach, leading them to the league title in 1979, 1984 and 1985.

One of Rovers' most treasured moments is the 1980 Challenge Cup final at Wembley, when they defeated Hull FC 10-5 in the final, with iconic hero Millward playing most of the game with a broken jaw.

The occasion is remembered as one of the city of Hull's greatest sporting events, though Robins fans have fonder memories of the occasion than their city rivals.


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