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1980–81 Rugby Football League season

The 1980–81 Rugby Football League season was the 86th season of professional rugby league football in Britain. Sixteen teams competed from August 1980 until May 1981 for the Slalom Lager Championship.

1980–81 Rugby Football League season
LeagueSlalom Lager Championship
ChampionsBullscolours.svg Bradford Northern
Premiership winnersHKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
Man of Steel AwardWolvescolours.svg Ken Kelly
Top point-scorer(s)Wolvescolours.svg Steve Hesford 310
Top try-scorer(s)Cascolours.png Terry Richardson 28
Promotion and relegation
Promoted from Second DivisionBalmain colours.svg York
Wigancolours.svg Wigan
Haven colours.svg Whitehaven
Relegated to Second DivisionFaxcolours.svg Halifax
Redscolours.svg Salford
Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town
Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham
Second Division
ChampionsBalmain colours.svg York
Top try-scorer(s)Balmain colours.svg John Crossley Jr. 35


Season summaryEdit

For the only time in their history, Wigan competed outside the top flight of Rugby League in this season. Fulham RLFC joined the competition in Division Two, later becoming the London Crusaders, London Broncos (twice), and Harlequins Rugby League.

Bradford Northern finished on top of the First Division table to claim their second championship, and Hull Kingston Rovers won the Rugby League Premiership competition.

Warrington beat Wigan 26–10 to win the Lancashire County Cup, and Leeds beat Hull Kingston Rovers 8–7 to win the Yorkshire County Cup.

League TablesEdit

Challenge CupEdit

The 1980-81 State Express Challenge Cup was won by Widnes after defeating Hull Kingston Rovers 18-9 in the final.

The Final was played at Wembley before a crowd of 92,496.

League CupEdit


New Zealand Kiwis TourEdit

September until November also saw the appearance of the New Zealand team in England on their 1980 tour. Other than the three test series against Great Britain, The Kiwis played matches club and county sides.

The 1980 Kiwis were coached by Ces Mountford and were captained by Mark Graham.

Dane O'Hara, who would join Hull F.C. following the tour was the leading try scorer with 6. Scrum half Gordon Smith (who would join Hull Kingston Rovers in 1982) was the tours leading point scorer with 33 from 1 try and 15 goals.

game Date Result Venue Attendance
1 28 September   New Zealand def.   Blackpool Borough 23–5 Borough Park, Blackpool 1,312
2 5 October   New Zealand def.   Hull F.C. 33–10 Boothferry Park, Kingston upon Hull 15,945
3 8 October   Cumbria def.   New Zealand 9–3 Recreation Ground, Whitehaven 4,070
4 12 October   St Helens def.   New Zealand 11–6 Knowsley Road, St Helens 6,000
5 14 October   Bradford Northern def.   New Zealand 15–10 Odsal Stadium, Bradford 4,553
6 18 October   Great Britain drew with   New Zealand 14–14 Central Park, Wigan 7,031
7 22 October   New Zealand def.   Hull Kingston Rovers 20–12 Craven Park, Kingston upon Hull 9,516
8 26 October   New Zealand def.   Leeds 25–5 Headingley, Leeds 5,662
9 29 October   Warrington def.   New Zealand 13–6 Wilderspool Stadium, Warrington 5,680
10 2 November   New Zealand def.   Great Britain 12–8 Odsal Stadium, Bradford 10,946
11 5 November   New Zealand def.   Great Britain U/24 18–14 Craven Cottage, London 2,397
12 9 November   Widnes def.   New Zealand 13–7 Naughton Park, Widnes 6,416
13 11 November   New Zealand def.   Leigh 22–5 Hilton Park, Leigh 3,166
14 15 November   Great Britain def.   New Zealand 10–2 Elland Road, Leeds 8,210