Harrogate RUFC were formed in 1871 and have a long and proud history in national and county rugby football. They have won the Yorkshire Cup on 11 occasions including twice in the last two years. Their successes were in 1905, 1907, 1949, 1965, 1981, 1991, 1992, 2002, 2003, 2015 and 2016. Their last two wins were against Wharfedale by 16-12 and last season they beat Sheffield Tigers by 38-3. It is noticeable that they have won in consecutive years on three occasions. Let us hope that that sequence continues for this season!!
Hull RUFC never played against Harrogate RUFC at first team level until season 2009-10 when we won promotion to National Two North, although over the years we have played their Second XV, Harrogate Georgians, several times in friendly games. Since that time we have played ten league fixtures against ‘Gate with them winning six of them to our three with one game drawn.
The first six games followed a set pattern with all games going the way of the home side but Harrogate were relegated at the end of season 2011-12 but gained instant promotion the following season and in season 2013-14 they won both matches, 30-23 at the Ferens Ground and 19-18 at Claro Road. 2014-15 saw a 20-20 draw at the Ferens and a 28-10 win for ‘Gate at Claro Road and we have not played them since as we were relegated at the end of that season.
We have built up very good relations with ‘Gate over those years and it is always a pleasure to meet up with them both on and off the field. As this is the first time the two clubs have met in the Yorkshire Cup the tie has added spice as Harrogate will be going all out for a hat-trick of wins and we will be after a second Final win after winning ’T’Owd Tin Pot’ in 2012.
One other consideration for Harrogate is that they are still in a relegation situation as they are fourth from bottom in National Two North with two games still to play, against Otley at home and Hinkley away. It could be that league status is a much higher priority than cup glory which may affect their team selection for Saturday, as Wharfedale did in the quarter-final last Thursday. Our promotion chance has gone and we are guaranteed third place in National Three North so we have no such problems to consider.
But whatever Harrogate do, our side has a keen edge to it after winning three games in eight days and scoring 157 points in doing so. They have all to play for and may the best side win, they usually do!!