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1972–73 Northern Rugby Football League season

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Title: 1972–73 Northern Rugby Football League season  
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Subject: 1973 in sports, 1972 in sports, David Watkins (rugby), Rugby Football League Championship Second Division, Rugby league county cups, Salford Red Devils, Regal Trophy, BBC2 Floodlit Trophy, Featherstone Rovers, Dewsbury Rams
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1972–73 Northern Rugby Football League season

1972–73 Northern Rugby Football League season
League Championship
Number of teams 30
Champions Dewsbury
Top point-scorer(s) David Watkins (Salford) 493
Top try-scorer(s) John Atkinson (Leeds) 39
League reorganisation
Created Second Division York
Halifax
Batley
Keighley
Swinton
Workington Town
Bradford Northern
Huddersfield
Hull
Barrow
Doncaster
Hunslet
Blackpool Borough
Huyton
< 1971–72 Seasons 1973–74 >
The 1972–73 Northern Rugby Football League season was the 77th season of rugby league football played in England. It would also be the last season whereby the British championship was decided by a play-off system until Super League III in 1998. Dewsbury were crowned champions after defeating Leeds in the Final. The 1972-73 season was also punctuated by the 1972 Rugby League World Cup which was played in France in October and November. At the end of this season the league re-formed into two divisions. The top 16 in the championship would form Division 1 and the bottom 14 Division 2.

Rule changes

Number of tackles:

  • The four-tackle rule was altered and a new limit of six tackles was introduced.[1][2] The four-tackle rules had been blamed for making the game seem "disjointed".[2] A scrum was formed at the end of a completed set of the tackles.[2]

Timekeeping:

  • Timekeepers were given responsibility, rather than referees, for controlling time in matches. They signalled using a hooter siren system.

Season summary

Salford's David Watkins set the record for most goals (including drop goals) in a season with 221. Also, on 19 August 1972, Watkins started his record scoring streak which lasted until 25 April 1974. He totalled 929 points from 41 tries and 403 goals in 92 consecutive matches for one club.

1972-73 also saw the Wigan club celebrate its centenary, having been formed as Wigan F.C. on 21 November 1872. During the season they played a special Centenary Celebration match against an "Australians" side.

Hunslet disbanded at the end of the season, reforming as New Hunslet for the 1973–74 season.

Salford beat Swinton 25–11 to win the Lancashire Cup, and Leeds beat Dewsbury 36–9 to win the Yorkshire Cup.

Championship

Final standings

Team Pld W D L PF PA PD Pts
1 Warrington 34 27 2 5 816 400 +416 56
2 Featherstone Rovers 34 27 0 7 768 436 +332 54
3 Leeds 34 26 1 7 810 324 +486 53
4 St Helens 34 24 2 8 623 298 +325 50
5 Wakefield Trinity 34 25 0 9 814 398 +416 50
6 Salford 34 25 0 9 723 383 +340 50
7 Castleford 34 25 0 9 704 404 +300 50
8 Dewsbury 34 23 0 11 534 354 +180 46
9 Oldham 34 20 2 12 604 349 +255 42
10 Hull Kingston Rovers 34 20 1 13 731 522 +209 41
11 Rochdale Hornets 34 20 1 13 438 426 +12 41
12 Widnes 34 19 0 15 592 458 +134 38
13 Leigh 34 18 2 14 479 390 +89 38
14 Bramley 34 18 1 15 452 453 -1 37
15 Whitehaven 34 18 1 15 408 512 -104 37
16 Wigan 34 17 1 16 577 491 +86 35
17 York 34 17 1 16 586 575 +11 35
18 Halifax 34 17 0 17 543 562 -19 34
19 Batley 34 15 0 19 537 600 -63 30
20 Keighley 34 15 0 19 451 505 -54 30
21 Swinton 34 14 1 19 441 458 -17 29
22 Workington Town 34 12 1 21 444 464 -20 25
23 Bradford Northern 34 12 0 22 582 685 -103 24
24 Huddersfield 34 10 2 22 465 598 -133 22
25 Hull 34 11 0 23 494 693 -199 22
26 Barrow 34 7 0 27 351 775 -434 14
27 Doncaster 34 6 0 28 298 911 -613 12
28 Hunslet 34 5 0 29 371 916 -545 10
29 Blackpool Borough 34 4 0 30 324 972 -648 8
30 Huyton 34 3 1 30 243 879 -636 7
Play-offs,
Form 1973–74 Division 1

Form 1973–74 Division 2

Play-offs

  First round Second round Semi-finals Championship Final
                                     
3  Leeds 45  
14  Bramley 8  
     Leeds 30  
   
     Castleford 5  
7  Castleford 24
 
10  Hull Kingston Rovers 12  
     Leeds 7  
     St Helens 2  
4  St Helens 29  
 
13  Leigh 14  
     St Helens 28
   
     Wakefield Trinity 0  
5  Wakefield Trinity 33
 
12  Widnes 6  
     Leeds 13
     Dewsbury 22
1  Warrington 30  
16  Wigan 15  
     Warrington 16
   
     Rochdale Hornets 9  
6  Salford 10
 
11  Rochdale Hornets 14  
     Warrington 7
     Dewsbury 12  
2  Featherstone Rovers 14  
15  Whitehaven 4  
     Featherstone Rovers 7
   
     Dewsbury 26  
8  Dewsbury 29
9  Oldham 14  

Final

The 1973 Final was to be the last time a play-off system would be used to determine the British champions until 1998's Super League season. The match was played on 19 May 1973 at Bradford's Odsal Stadium between the previous season's champions, Leeds and first-time finalists, Dewsbury. Dewsbury had suffered a county cup record defeat 36-9 at the hands of Leeds in the Yorkshire Cup final earlier in the season. Also Leeds had finished 3rd on the ladder and Dewsbury 8th. However, Dewsbury opened up a 12-4 lead by the interval with tries by the hooker Mike Stephenson and Allan Agar and two goals and a drop-goal from the boot of centre Nigel Stephenson. Leeds captain Alan Hardisty was sent off for the first time in his career for a high tackle on John Bates.

A second try from Mike Stephenson on 44 minutes extended Dewsbury's lead and though Leeds hit back with tries by Graham Eccles, Phil Cookson and Les Dyl, it was not to be with Nigel Stephenson converting his own try to complete a resounding 22-13 success. Leading journalist Jack Winstanley wrote at the time: "Dewsbury's win sprung from a superb team effort that paid ample tribute to the coaching and inspiration of (coach) Tommy Smales. They bewildered a jaded Leeds outfit with a series of scissors moves and dummy passes that might have looked grossly over-elaborate had they not worked to such perfection." The Harry Sunderland Trophy for man-of-the-match went to Mike Stephenson. Greg Ashcroft, Jeff Grayshon and Alan Bates also played in the champion Dewsbury side.

Challenge Cup

The 1973 Challenge Cup final was won by Featherstone Rovers who beat Bradford Northern 33-14 at Wembley before a crowd of 72,395. Featherstone Rovers' Great Britain scrum half-back, Steve Nash put in a man-of-the-match performance to win the Lance Todd Trophy. Cyril Kellett scored 8-conversions for Featherstone Rovers, the most in a Challenge Cup Final (equalled by Iestyn Harris in 1999).

References

Sources

  • All Time Records at rlhalloffame.org.uk
  • 1972-73 Rugby Football League season at wigan.rlfans.com
  • - article at yorkshirepost.co.uk
  • - article at yorkshirepost.co.uk
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