In the spring of 1989 Hull and East Riding RUFC merged with Ionians RUFC to form Hull Ionians RUFC. The new club took Riding’s league status in Division North One. The 28% of the Riding membership who voted against the merger reformed the club as Hull & East Riding RUFC (1989), and were given membership of Yorkshire Division Six, the bottom tier of Yorkshire county rugby union. Just before season 1989-90 began Mr. Peter Lovell MBE, the new Riding President, was interviewed by the Hull Daily Mail and he expressed the wish that in the fullness of time Riding, or their successors, would regain their status in North One and hopefully progress into the National leagues.
Hull RUFC were formed on July 1st 1992 as a result of a merger between Old Hymerians RUFC and Hull & East Riding RUFC (1989). Old Hymerians were formed in 1925 while the Riding could trace their origins to 1901. The new club took over the tenancy of the Old Hymerians ground at Haworth Park and also their league status in North-East Division Two. The colours of the new club were to be red, black and gold, and the first club captain was Zimbabwean international fly-half David Walters. The first coach was former England international prop Paul Huntsman. The club was to run 6 senior sides including 2 veteran sides and an Under-21 side.
Hull had very successful first season and finished third in the table behind Doncaster and Driffield. Hull’s very first game at Haworth Park resulted in a 51-12 victory over Hemsworth in a non-league game with the first try for the new club being scored by Mal Cressey. The first league game was at home to the eventual champions Doncaster who were defeated 8-6. Hull went into the final league game of the season at Driffield needing two points while Driffield needed only one. A 6-6 draw saw Driffield take second place. Hull won 9 and drew 1 of their 12 league games and in all games won 22 and drew 2 of the 33 played. The leading try-scorer for the season was Richard Oliver with 15 and the leading goal-kicker and points scorer was Andy Woods whose 7 tries and 71 goals totalled 206 points.The 1993-94 season was a big disappointment as Hull slumped to eighth position after a poor campaign. Paul Huntsman had resigned for business reason and was replaced by Jim Henderson. Only six of the 12 league games were won but in all games the position was better with 18 wins and 1 draw from the 33 played. Darren Sapich was the leading try-scorer with 9 and topping the points list was Paul Cook with 5 tries and 33 goals for 112 points.
The 1994-95 season saw an improvement in Hull’s form when they finished fifth in the league table, winning 7 and drawing 1 of their 12 games. Overall they won 18 and drew 2 of their 33 games. Mal Cressey was the leading try-scorer with 13 while David Prescott, with his7 tries and 74 goals was to set a new club.
Alan Hunter took over as coach for the 1995-96 season which was a very poor one with Hull finishing eighth in a league of thirteen, only to be victims of a nationwide RFU reorganisation of the league structure which saw them relocated to the newly-formed North-East Division Three. Hull won 5 of their 12 league games and overall they won just 7 and drew 1 of their 30 games. Mal Cressey was the leading try-scorer with just 8 touch-downs and David Prescott was the leading goal-kicker with 36 goals. His 4 tries made him the leading points scorer with 113. Lock Phil Lea became the first player to player 100 games for the club, a distinction that was to be recorded as a Centenarian for all such future achievements.
Alan Hunter left the club and was replaced for the 1996-97 season by former Kelso RUFC, Great Britain, Wigan and Hull KR rugby league full-back George Fairbairn. Hull won 14 of their 18 league games in North-East Three to make a swift return and gain promotion back to North-East Two as runners-up to champions Darlington. The club caused something of a local sensation when they obtained permission from Hull FC to sign winger Leroy Mckenzie for a four month period in the rugby league professional close season. In all games Hull won 20 and drew 1 of their 27 games. The highlight of the season was win over Whitby, Sunderland, a game that was played on Hull KR’s New Craven Park ground, the first time two union sides had played on a professional league ground in Hull. The leading try-scorers were Rob Moulds and Peter Hazelton with 11 each and David Prescott topped the points scorers with 167 points from 2 tries and 64 goals for 167 points. The club were now playing without a fourth team.
Season 1997-98 saw Hull finish fourth in the table, winning 11 and losing seven of their league games, and 20 of their total fixtures. Leroy McKenzie was the leading try-scorer with 21 which was a new club record, and the leading goal-kicker and points scorer was David Prescott with 86 goals and 5 tries for total of 230 points. Both of these were records which would stand until the 2008-09 season.
A very average 1998-99 season saw Hull again finish fourth winning 9 and losing 9 of their league games and 17 wins and 13 defeats in all games. At the end of the season the club made its first overseas tour when 33 players and club members visited Raleigh in North Carolina, USA. The club received the Civic Reception from the Mayor of the city during their visit and also played two games. Raleigh began a sistership with Hull in October 1886 and Hull RUFC were believed to be the first sports club from the area to pay them a visit. The club’s leading try-scorer was former Harrogate and Hull KR centre Julian Barkworth with 12 and David Prescott with 52 goals and 4 tries was the leading points scorer with 156.
Season 1999-2000 was another poor one with Hull only winning 8 of their 18 league games and 15 from 32 overall. Four players shared the leading try-scorers list, all on 8 tries – centres Andy and Julian Barkworth, back-row Sean Botherway and hooker Gareth Phillips. Leading point scorer was David Prescott who scored 24 goals in the 11 games he played for 63 points. George Fairbairn left the club at the end of the season for business reasons after 4 years as coach.
The 2000-2001 season will be remembered as the poorest so far and the one that saw us do ‘the great escape’, as the saying goes. Samoan international Maea David joined the club from Hull FC. In the absence of an official coach Moore would also be acting-coach. The second half of the season began with a rare 22-18 away victory at Huddersfield YMCA, no doubt boosted by the news that former Llanelli and Wales, British Lions, and Hull FC fly-half Gary Pearce was to join Hull as playing Director of Rugby for the game the following week (Jan 13 2001). The leading try-scorer was Leroy McKenzie with 12 and Gary Pearce kicked 39 goals for a total of 96 points. David Prescott retired from playing rugby after playing in 150 games and scoring 1007 points, including 352 goals. Both were still club records ten years later.
The following season, 2001-2002, was awaited with great anticipation. The club won 19 and drew 1 of their 22 league games and won the division by 9 clear points. 14 consecutive games were won and the side was unbeaten at home in all games played. Promotion was gained to Division Two North East. The leading try-scorer was Leroy McKenzie with 17 tries. Guy Martinson was the leading points scorer with 126 from just 14 games kicking 41 goals and scoring 5 tries.
Season 2002-03 saw Hull acquit themselves very well at the higher level and they won 15 league games to finish third in the table behind two exceptional sides in Bradford & Bingley and Sheffield. The club progressed to the final 16 of the Powergen Intermediate Cup before losing to Cheshire side Lymm. They also progressed to the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup, losing to Doncaster after defeating Pontefract, Old Crossleyans and Hull Ionians. This was the first time Hull had beaten Hull Ionians, who were always in a much higher league, and had in fact played in the National Three North during this season. The leading try-scorer was again Leroy Mckenzie with 25 touchdowns which was a new club record and he was also the leading points scorer with 125 . Gary Pearce was the leading goal-kicker with 55 and his single try gave him 123 points.
Season 2003-04 saw Hull RUFC in awesome form as they swept aside the opposition to win their opening twenty-one league games, ensuring the league title with a 26-20 victory at West Hartlepool on March 6th, with three games still to play. A 23-22 defeat at Stockton in the final kick of the final league game of the season denied the club a 100% record but they won the league by eight clear points over Middlesbrough with a 773-245 playing record. Nine existing club records were broken in this highly successful season. Leroy McKenzie was the leading try-scorer for the fourth consecutive season with 24 tries and had now passed the 100 mark with 119, the first Hull player to achieve this target, Guy Martinson scored 20 tries. Carl Paterson was the leading points scorer with 217 comprising 75 goals and 10 tries, while Guy Martinson kicked 24 goals to add to his 20 tries for a points total of 154. In all games the side scored 140 tries, 108 goals for a total of 939 points. Hull again progressed to the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup only to lose to National Three side Halifax by 17-7, giving their higher-rated opponents a real fright before losing the game.
Hull RUFC took their well-earned place in Division North One for season 2004-05 following two promotions in three seasons. Hull looked forward to taking on local rivals Hull Ionians, whom they have never played league matches against.
The side won 16 of its 22 games including six doubles, scoring 625 points while conceding 334, having beaten every side in the division with the exception of champions Preston Grasshoppers. After winning their opening seven games Hull had put any possible relegation fears behind them but they lost their unbeaten record to Hull Ionians who recorded a 24-15 win at Haworth Park in the first ever league game between the two clubs. Hull got their revenge with a 12-10 win at Brantingham Park four weeks later to regain top spot in the table and the new boys were being talked of as promotion contenders. The three way battle between Hull, Hull Ionians and Preston went to the final day of the season with the club finally finishing in third position, two points behind their local rivals and six points behind Preston. They were never outside of the top three in the table and three of the six games they lost were by less than five points. The two games against Preston showed how close Hull were to winning promotion. Danny Smith was the leading try-scorer with 17 tries and Carl Paterson was again the leading points scorer with 74 goals and four tries for his 207 points.
Hull RUFC viewed season 2005-06 with great confidence. The club progressed to the Yorkshire Cup semi-finals for the third time in four seasons. A new club record was created when winger Danny Smith scored 26 tries to beat Leroy McKenzie’s previous record of 25 which was achieved in the 2002-03 season. Danny Smith also played for Yorkshire in the end of season County Championship games and subsequently joined National One side Otley. Waylon Tangahau scored 18 tries and with his 49 goals he was the club top points scorer with 198. Leroy Mckenzie became the first Hull player to play 200 games for the club.
Hull faced season 2006-07 in a very similar position to the previous one, a very severe player shortage but one of a permanent nature compared to last season. The best news for the club was that former Leeds Tykes, Sale, Rotherham and Pau lock forward Chris Murphy had joined the club during the summer after taking up a job in the Hull area. The leading try-scorer was Movete Otoota with just 9 tries and the leading points scorer was Guy Martinson whose 6 tries and 34 goals gave him 113 points. In the final league game of the season at Caldy Leroy McKenzie played his final senior game for the club after appearing in 208 games and scoring 134 tries.
Expectations for the season 2007-08 were very high. Hull had their best season in North One winning 10 and drawing 1 of their 22 games to finish the season in fifth place. The sensational signing in February of rugby union and rugby league dual Tongan international, former Hull FC, Bradford Bulls, Saracens and Paris Racing Metro threequarter Tevita Vaikona rocked national rugby union circles. The leading try-scorer was Matt White with 12 tries and the leading goal-kicker and points-scorer was Cameron Gray with 6 tries and 35 goals. The final Hull RUFC game to be played at Haworth Park was on April 19 when Hull beat Westoe 27-25. The following season would see Hull playing at their new home, the Ferens Ground on Chanterlands Avenue, and hopes of gaining National League status had never been higher.
The opening match at the Ferens Ground where the visitors Westoe, who had been Hull’s last opponents at Haworth Park, were put to the sword in a tremendous display of attacking rugby from Hull who turned round a 14-8 interval lead into a 63-8 hammering of the South Shields side. Hull scored 10 tries with Mateo Malupo creating a new club record with 5 of them. Hull went on to win 18 of their 22 league games to finish up as runners-up to Westoe. That only left the small matter of the play-off for the second promotion place between Hull and Midlands One runners-up Chester. On a glorious day and before 400 spectators, Hull turned on the style and gave a superb team performance to win emphatically by 40-15. After only five seasons Hull were to take their place in the newly-created National Two North. The leading try-scorer was Mateo Malupo with 16 tries from only 10 games with Latu Makaafi, Tevita Vaikona and Adrian Wadforth all on 11. James Cameron broke both the goal-kicking and points scoring records, previously held by David Prescott, with 101 goals and 254 points, including 5 tries.
The 2009-10 season saw Hull FC forward Lee Radford become defensive coach. The final league position was fifth, a tremendous achievement for a newly-promoted side and the highest league placing ever achieved by an East Yorkshire club. We won 17 and drew 1 of our 30 league games. Hull again got to the semi-final of the Yorkshire Cup for the fourth time, beating Driffield and Beverley before losing 26-7 at National One side Wharfedale. The club leading try-scorer was Rob Devonshire with 11 and the leading points scorer was James Cameron whose 69 goals and 2 tries gave him a total of 180 points. Guy Martinson became the second double Centenarian.
Optimism was high for the 2010-11 season.In early November the club entertained luckless Manchester who were in free-fall at the moment in what was to prove to be their third consecutive relegation. A score of 102-3 saw Hull run in 16 tries for a club record and another record went when James Cameron kicked 11 goals.
Hull reached their first-ever Yorkshire Cup Final with wins over Morley, Beverley, and Cleckheaton before going down 25-18 in an epic final at York’s Clifton Park ground. Over 1,000 people witnessed a very tough and full-blooded match on very hard ground between Hull and Huddersfield, a side Hull had done the double over in league games during the season. Huddersfield won T’owd Tin Pot’ for the first time since 1890. The final playing record was 16 wins and 2 draws from the 30 games and the final league position was seventh. The leading try-scorers were Alex Piercy and James Greene with 17 and Will Robinson with 16. James Cameron was the leading goal-kicker with 90 goals and his 4 tries brought him a total of 230 points. James Ward became Hull’s third double Centenarian.
A new Head Coach for the 2011-12 season in John Widdowson. The league season ended with a resounding 55-12 win at old rivals Westoe to finish the season with 94 points, level with Preston Grasshoppers, who had the better scoring difference, to finish fourth in the table, just one point behind second placed Caldy who Hull had beaten 44-10 on March 17th. The leading try-scorers for the season were James Wigglesworth with fifteen, Will Robinson with thirteen and Rob Devonshire with twelve. James Cameron kicked ninety goals and scored 249 points. Fullman also created another club record with 38 consecutive appearances, which he was to extend to 44 the following season. A unique occasion for the club was seen on April 24th when three players, James Cameron, Scott Plevey and Rob Devonshire all made their 100th appearance for Hull in the home match against Bromsgrove to bring the list of Centenarians to 23.
For the season 2012-13 Hull won thirteen of the twenty-nine games played and the twenty-two bonus points they earned along the way were to prove invaluable in the final tally of 74. In the 51-9 home win over Dudley Kingswinford James Cameron created a new goal-kicking record of 353 goals, beating David Prescott’s record which had stood for many years. Full-back James Wigglesworth was again the leading try-scorer for Hull with eighteen touch-downs while young fly-half Greg Lound stepped into the shoes of the injured James Cameron with great aplomb to land 89 goals for a total of 223 points. Hull are indeed lucky to have two such accomplished place-kickers. James Cameron brought his goals tally to 366 with the sixteen he kicked this season and only needs another 59 points to create a new club points-scoring record.
New Hull RUFC coach Kerry Wood knew he had a big job on his hands when he started preparations for the season 2013-14.
The start of the 2014-15 season was tempered with the news that during the close season Hull had lost several prominent players, including Chris Murphy and his brother Phil. Chris had played 190 games for the club and Phil 105. Geoff Wappett resigned as joint Director of Rugby and was replaced very quickly by former player and DOR Gary Pearce, whose second spell with the club began with a 27-22 home win over Chester. The next seven games saw the side win three and lose four but the last two of that spell had seen home wins over Leicester Lions and Otley and survival was still a possibility. Hull and Birmingham/Solihull joined Stockport in relegation and Hull’s six year tenure in National Two North had come to an end.
After six seasons in National Two North, Hull now faced life back in National Three North. The third great loss was former club skipper and leading points scorer James Cameron, who had taken up a new job in London and had joined Westcombe Park. James had played in 150 games for the club and scored 1128 points, most of them from his 445 goals. Hull finished the season with fifteen wins and eleven defeats and it is significant that of those eleven defeats eight were lost by seven points or less and six of those eight were by three or less. Eighteen bonus points were gained, a total which was only exceeded by the twenty-one of Sheffield Tigers who only lost four games. The club finished a very creditable fifth in the table on 78 points, equal to fourth-placed Firwood Waterloo and one point behind third-placed Lymm.
Compiled by Norman Angell.