Open main menu

George Fairbairn is a Scottish former rugby union, and professional rugby league footballer of the 1970s and 1980s, and rugby league coach of the 1980s and 1990s. He played representactive level rugby union (RU) for Borders, and at club level for Kelso RFC, and representactive level rugby league (RL) for Great Britain and England, and at club level for Wigan, winning the Man of Steel Award in 1980, and Hull Kingston Rovers, as a goal-kicking fullback,[2] and coached at representactive level rugby league for Scotland, and at club level Wigan, Hull Kingston Rovers, and Huddersfield.[5]

George Fairbairn
Personal information
Full nameGeorge Alexander Fairbairn[1]
BornPeebles, Peeblesshire, Scotland
Playing information
Rugby union
PositionFull back
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
197?–74 Kelso
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
197?–7? Borders
Rugby league
PositionFullback, Wing
Club
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1974–81 Wigan 207 30 583 11 1267
1981–89 Hull Kingston Rovers 269 49 549 19 1290
Total 476 79 1132 30 2557
Representative
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1975–81 England 16 5 51 1 118
1977–82 Great Britain 17 1 44 0 91
Coaching information
Club
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1980–81 Wigan
1991–94 Hull Kingston Rovers
1994–95 Huddersfield
Total 0 0 0 0
Representative
Years Team Gms W D L W%
1995–97 Scotland
Source: [2][3][4][5]

Fairbairn retired as England's top point scorer in test football.[6] In September 2012, he was named in Hull Kingston Rovers' greatest ever team.[7]

BackgroundEdit

Born in Peebles, Scotland, and raised in Coldstream, Scotland.

Professional playing careerEdit

WiganEdit

In 1974, he moved to England to play rugby league for Wigan.[8] Although born in Scotland, Fairbairn qualified to play international rugby league for England due to his father being English. He became only the second Scottish-born person after Andrew Hogg to play for the England national team. Fairbairn won caps for England while at Wigan in the 1975 Rugby League World Cup against Wales (2 matches), New Zealand (2 matches), Australia (2 matches), and France, and later in 1975 against Papua New Guinea.

He won caps for Great Britain while at Wigan in 1977 Rugby League World Cup against France, New Zealand, and 2 matches against Australia including the 13–12 World Cup Final loss at the Sydney Cricket Ground. During the first half of the Final, a dropped ball by Fairbairn after a Lions scrum win saw Australian centre Russel Gartner race away for a 60-metre try.[9] He also played for England in 1977 against Wales, and France.

Fairbairn played in all three tests for Great Britain in 1978 against the touring Australians during the Ashes series. He also played for England in 1978 against France. He played for Great Britain in 1979 against Australia and New Zealand (3 matches) on the Lions lackluster tour of both countries. Originally left out of the touring squad, Fairbairn joined the team in Australia following injuries to players.

George Fairbairn played fullback and scored a try and two conversions in Wigan's 10–26 defeat by Warrington in the 1980–81 Lancashire County Cup Final during the 1980–81 season at Knowsley Road, St. Helens, on Saturday 4 October 1980.

At the end of the 1979–80 Northern Rugby Football League season, despite Wigan's relegation to the second division, Fairbairn received the Man of Steel Award for player of the season. He then played for England in 1980 against Wales, and France, and for Great Britain in 1980 against the touring New Zealand Kiwis (2 matches).

Fairbairn was appointed as a player-coach at Wigan for the 1980–81 season, helping the club win promotion back to the first division. After the club's coaching duties were given to Maurice Bamford at the end of the season, Fairbairn requested a transfer, and was sold to Hull Kingston Rovers for a record fee of £72,500.

Hull Kingston RoversEdit

While at Hull Kingston Rovers Fairbairn played for England in 1981 against France and Wales. He also played for Great Britain in 1981 against France and in 1982 against the touring Australians (2 matches).[3] Fairbairn played fullback in Great Britain's 7–8 defeat by France in the friendly at Stadio Pierluigi Penzo, Venice on Saturday 31 July 1982.[4]

With 52 goals, Fairbairn is second in the list of England's all-time goal scorers and with 118 points he is also second (behind Kevin Sinfield) in the list of England's all-time point scorers.

In 1986, Fairbairn played for Hull KR is their 30–10 defeat by Australia as part of their 1982 Kangaroo tour. Hull KR had actually led Australia 8–5 at halftime of their opening tour match, but as would become the norm on that tour The Kangaroos exploded in the second half to blow The Robins away. That Kangaroo touring team became the first team to go undefeated through a tour of Great Britain and France, earning themselves the nickname The Invincibles.

In October 1983, Fairbairn played fullback for Hull KR in their 8–6 win over the touring Queensland state team from Australia at Craven Park. Fairbairns's two goals proved to be the difference between the two teams who had each scored a single try with Queensland and future Australian captain Wally Lewis only managing one goal from three attempts.

George Fairbairn played fullback in Hull KR's 14–15 defeat by Castleford in the 1985–86 Challenge Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, London, on Saturday 3 May 1986, in front of a crowd of 82,134.

He then played in Hull KR's 12–29 defeat by Hull F.C. in the 1984–85 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1984–85 season at Boothferry Park in Hull, on Saturday 27 October 1984, and played fullback, (replaced by John Lydiat) in the 22–18 victory over Castleford in the 1985–86 Yorkshire County Cup Final during the 1985–86 season at Headingley in Leeds on Sunday 27 October 1985.

Fairbairn played and scored two conversions in Hull KR's 4–12 defeat by Hull F.C. in the 1981–82 John Player Trophy Final during the 1981–82 season at Headingley on Saturday 23 January 1982, and played in the 12–0 victory over Hull F.C. in the 1984–85 John Player Special Trophy Final during the 1984–85 season at Boothferry Park on Saturday 26 January 1985.

In 1986, Fairbairn played for Hull KR is their 46–10 defeat by Australia as part of their 1986 Kangaroo tour. Like the 1982 Kangaroos, the Wally Lewis captained Kangaroos went undefeated on the 1986 tour and were given the nickname The Unbeatables.

Coaching careerEdit

George Fairbairn's Testimonial match at Hull Kingston Rovers took place in 1992. Fairbairn also became coach of the Scotland national rugby league team from 1995 to 1997.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ Morris, Graham (2005). Wigan Rugby League Football Club: 100 Greats. Stroud: Tempus Publishing. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-7524-3470-4.
  2. ^ a b "Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  3. ^ a b "England Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Great Britain Statistics at englandrl.co.uk". englandrl.co.uk. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  5. ^ a b "Coach Statistics at rugbyleagueproject.org". rugbyleagueproject.org. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  6. ^ Willacy, Gavin (26 October 2012). "The Borders full-back who moved south to take rugby league by storm". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 31 October 2012.
  7. ^ "Fairbairn named as greatest ever fullback". Hull Kingston Rovers RLFC. 19 September 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
  8. ^ "Statistics at wigan.rlfans.com". wigan.rlfans.com. 31 December 2017. Retrieved 1 January 2018.
  9. ^ 1977 World Cup Final highlights

External linksEdit