The London Skolars are a rugby league club based at the New River Stadium, Wood Green, Haringey in north London. They were founded in 1995 and were semi-professional from 2003, operating in the Betfred League 1, until the club withdrew from the professional leagues at the end of 2023.
|Full name||London Skolars Rugby League Football Club|
(as Student Rugby League Old Boys)
|Competition||Conference League South|
|2023 season||10th (League 1)|
|London League||3 (2000, 2001, 2004)|
|RLC Challenge Cup||1 (2004)|
|RLC Southern Division||1 (2000)|
|RLC London & South Division||1 (2002)|
|Middlesex 9s||1 (2003)|
The club was founded by Ian "Hector" McNeil in 1995 as Student Rugby League Old Boys, created for post-university graduates based in London who wished to continue playing competitive rugby league, with a number of ex-student international rugby league players as members. The team originally played at Hackney RFC. The club quickly went "open", drawing not only from players from the student game but also London-based antipodeans and local rugby players.
The club name was changed to London Skolars two years later in 1997, partly to refer humorously to their academic origins but primarily due to a potential sponsorship from Skol lager. After initial success in the London League, in 1997 the club became a founder member of the Southern Conference League (the forerunner to the Rugby League Conference), under the name North London Skolars, and won the inaugural competition. They also moved to New River Stadium at this time. Later in 1997, they entered the National Conference League and were the only club south of Sheffield in the competition for four consecutive seasons.
In 1998 Skolars hosted Strella XIII, the first time a team from Tatarstan had toured Great Britain. During the 1999 season, the Skolars toured Russia, the first time that an amateur club had toured the former Soviet Union.
Skolars first team won the Southern Division of the Rugby League Conference in 2000 and the second team won the London League that same year. The second team won the London League again in 2001.
In 2002 the club applied to join the National Leagues and was accepted, the first club in eighty years to make the transition from the amateur ranks to the professional leagues. The A team joined the Conference and won the London & South Division in its first year.
In 2003, the Skolars first season in National League Two, they finished bottom of the league, but made further progress in 2004. They won the Middlesex 9s whilst the A team won the London League. The club dropped "North" from their name to become London Skolars. The appointment of Latham Tawhai as a full-time coach at the end of the 2005 season marked another step forward in the club's progress.
Tony Benson left his job at London Skolars at the end of the season due to the inconvenience of travelling from his home in Leigh, Greater Manchester.[dead link] Callum Irving took over as head coach at the club, Irving was Tony Benson's number two in the 2008 season. He resigned in July 2009, citing personal reasons. Injured player Jermaine Coleman took over as interim head coach for the remainder of the season. The club appointed its first full-time chief executive officer in 2009, Phillip Browne, who was replaced in 2010 by Howard Kramer. The Skolars finished the 2009 in 10th position of the Championship One table, taking the wooden spoon with just one win all season and five points. London Skolars announced that James Massara, a Hammersmith-born thirty-two-year-old would take the reins as head coach at New River Stadium in 2010. In October 2010 the London Skolars appointed former Harlequins RL player Joe Mbu as their head coach.
In 2013, London finished 4th in the 2013 Championship 1 season. That was the first time they finished in the play-offs in their Championship 1 venture, although they didn't achieve promotion after being knocked out in the semi-finals.
In 2014, Joe Mbu led the Skolars to 7th place out of 9. After a heavy defeat by Swinton Lions in the Challenge Cup at the beginning of the 2015 season, London Skolars released Mbu from his contract on 9 March.
On 18 March 2015, Skolars appointed ex-player and then current Hemel Stags assistant coach Jermaine Coleman as head coach. Coleman in his first season 11th out of 14 teams. Recruiting and retaining strongly, Coleman lead the Skolars to a top 8 playoff place after a 23–22 win over the Gloucestershire All Golds.
In 2021 Mbu returned to the club as coach. After struggling in the league during 2021 and 2022 where they only finished 9th out of 11 in both seasons, the club had a disastrous 2023 season losing all 18 league matches and their only cup match. On 15 September the club announced that they were withdrawing from the professional structure and would continue as an community club, playing in the Southern Conference.
Past coaches edit
|Season||League||Challenge Cup||Other competitions|
|2003||National League Two||18||1||1||16||222||876||3||10th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2004||National League Two||18||6||0||12||361||583||12||8th||Did not qualify||R4||Middlesex 9s||W|
|2005||National League Two||18||2||0||16||258||620||4||10th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2006||National League Two||22||5||1||16||406||776||11||9th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2007||National League Two||22||8||1||13||448||610||30||9th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2008||National League Two||22||4||1||17||449||823||20||11th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2009||Championship 1||18||1||0||17||210||927||5||10th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2010||Championship 1||20||2||0||18||444||900||10||10th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2011||Championship 1||20||5||1||14||433||678||21||9th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2012||Championship 1||18||7||1||10||558||560||26||7th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2013||Championship 1||16||10||0||6||489||468||32||4th||Lost in preliminary final||R3|
|2014||Championship 1||19||5||14||0||443||609||23||7th||Did not qualify||R4|
|2015||Championship 1||22||5||17||0||388||671||10||11th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2016||League 1||21||8||0||13||470||650||16||8th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2017||League 1||15||6||1||8||367||453||13||11th||Lost in Shield Final||R4|
|2018||League 1||26||6||1||19||626||887||13||12th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2019||League 1||20||7||1||12||440||542||15||8th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2020||League 1||League abandoned due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom||R3|
|2021||League 1||18||3||1||14||372||605||7||9th||Did not qualify||Did not participate|
|2022||League 1||20||6||0||14||440||827||12||9th||Did not qualify||R3|
|2023||League 1||18||0||0||18||254||897||0||10th||Did not qualify||R2|
- RFL London League:
- Winners (3): 2000, 2001, 2004
- Conference South Division:
- Winners (2): 2000, 2002
- Conference Eastern Division:
- Winners (1): 1997
- Conference Challenge Cup:
- Winners (1): 2004
- Harry Jepson Trophy:
- Winners (2): 1997, 2012
- Middlesex 9s:
- Winners (1): 2003
- Oxford league inspires : Oxford Rugby League v. London Skolars (match programme). Oxford: Oxford Rugby League. 2013.
- Walker, Callum (15 September 2023). "London Skolars withdraw from League One in rugby league blow". Total Rugby League. Retrieved 15 September 2023.
- "Hull KR shock Salford". BBC Sport. 8 September 2003. Retrieved 5 January 2014.
- "'BENSON MAKES SKOLARS SWITCH". Sportinglife. 3 December 2007. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 3 December 2007.
- London Skolars » London Skolars Press Release – Joe Mbu Leaves Skolars
- London Skolars » Skolars Announce Former Player Jermaine Coleman As New Head Coach
- London Skolars » Jy-mel Coleman Secures Top 8 Spot for Skolars