Denis Charles Betts (born 14 September 1969) is an English rugby league coach and former player. He is the former head coach of the Widnes Vikings in the Super League, and former assistant coach of England.
|Full name||Denis Charles Betts|
|Born||14 September 1969|
|Height||6 ft (183 cm)|
|Weight||15 st 0 lb (95 kg; 210 lb)|
A second-row, Betts played in the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s for the Wigan Warriors, with whom he won numerous titles, and for the Auckland Warriors. He won four caps for England and 32 for Great Britain, setting a record for a forward. He played in two Rugby League World Cups, in 1989-92 and 1995, including playing in the finals of both.
Betts was born on 14 September 1969 in Salford, Lancashire and attended Clarendon High School. He has a younger brother, Darren Betts – also a talented rugby and footballer who played for Salford in the 1990s. Betts was himself a former Manchester United youth team player.
Betts signed for Wigan from Leigh Miners ARL (also known as Leigh Rangers) on 14 October 1986.
Betts was a part of the hugely successful Wigan team of the 1980s, and 90's, his own medal haul including six Championships, seven Rugby League Challenge Cups, three Premierships, four John Player/Regal Trophies, and two Lancashire County Cup. He also received the Lance Todd Trophy (1991) and the coveted Man of Steel Award (1995). He featured in three World Club Challenge matches for Wigan, winning two, against Penrith Panthers in 1991 and Brisbane Broncos in 1994.
Later that year Betts became the first player to win both England and Great Britain caps while not playing in the English leagues. With former Wigan team-mate Shaun Edwards ruled out by injury, Betts captained England from the second row in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, but Australia won the match 16–8 and retained the World Cup. Betts' selection as captain of England meant he was the first player given the honour while not playing in the English leagues.
During the 1996 Auckland Warriors season Betts captained the club. He was selected as vice captain for the 1996 Great Britain Lions tour of Papua New Guinea, Fiji and New Zealand, playing in all Tests against host nations at second-row. The 1997 season was Betts' last with the Auckland Warriors as he returned to England to continue playing for Wigan.
Betts returned to play in the 1998 Wigan Warriors season in Europe's new Super League competition, and played in the side which lost the 1998 Challenge Cup Final to Sheffield Eagles. He missed Wigan's 1998 Super League Grand Final victory that year through injury. Betts scored Wigan's opening try in the last game at Central Park, and their first try at the JJB Stadium.
At the end of the 1999 season, Betts was selected to play for Great Britain in the 1999 Tri-Nations tournament in both of their matches against New Zealand and Australia.
Betts played for Wigan in their 2000 Super League Grand Final loss to St. Helens, and their 2001 Grand Final loss to the Bradford Bulls. He was persuaded to retire from playing at the age of 32, to help Wigan get under the salary cap.
In total Betts made 32 appearances for Great Britain, the joint highest ever for a forward, and toured three times, in 1990, 1992 and 1996. He also captained England in the 1995 World Cup Final, which they lost to Australia at Wembley in front of 66,540 fans.
At the end of 2001, Betts moved into coaching as under-18s coach at Wigan, and progressed to under-21s, which he led to victory in the 2003 U21 Grand Final. In July 2003, Stuart Raper was sacked as Wigan coach, and he was replaced by Mike Gregory. Gregory then appointed Betts as his assistant. Wigan's results improved and they went on reach the Grand Final, only to lose to Bradford Bulls. The following season, Wigan reached another final, losing this time to St. Helens in the Challenge Cup Final. Betts then took temporary charge in May 2004 when Gregory stepped down due to illness. He held the position for a year before he was moved sideways by the club to make way for the appointment of new head coach Ian Millward, who had left St. Helens just two weeks earlier and was recruited for his experience. Betts continued to work under Millward until the end of the 2005 season but left in November after refusing to take a post as coaching the academy U21 side.
In January 2006 he took up a post as skills and development coach with Guinness Premiership rugby union club Gloucester, a position which he left in June 2010, despite having another year on his contract. Speaking about his time at Gloucester, he said "It's a really passionate place and I hope they can get the success they deserve. I really enjoyed the place, especially the match-day atmosphere and the Shed."
In May 2018 Widnes Vikings terminated Betts contract with full effect. Due to the Vikings poor run with winning only three games out of twelve.
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- Leigh Miners Rangers – About Us
- Malin, Ian (11 January 2006). "Rugby union: Gloucester gamble on Betts to help continue revival". The Guardian. London.
- "Coach Betts departs Gloucester". BBC News. 21 June 2010.
- "Betts in frame for England job". Sportinglife. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010.
- Wilson, Andy (10 November 2010). "Denis Betts returns as head coach of Widnes". The Guardian. London.
- "Denis Betts to lead Widnes Vikings in Super League". The Guardian. London. 10 May 2011.