A WAR of the Roses Rugby League match saw Haslingden High School taking on Yorkshire’s Sherburn High School in front of a crowd of thousands.
Since March, the schools have been creating Rugby League teams from scratch in a televised Sky Sports initiative to promote the sport.
The match was played at Leeds Rhinos’ home ground of Headingley just ahead of the Super League game between the Rhinos and Saints – St Helen’s.
Haslingden High School won 14:10 but in a reversal of fortunes the Rhinos’ trounced the Saints 46:18.
Head of PE at Haslingden High School Wes Haworth said: “The Rhinos’ supporters were cheering on Sherburn and the Saints were cheering on Haslingden.
“It was an amazing experience and was a great night. I started teaching in 1997 and I don’t think I have been to a better school sporting fixture.”
Two coaches left Haslingden after the Year 10 media and marketing team successfully sold 150 tickets for the match. They also secured £3,500 of sponsorship.
The Year 10 team walked out on to the pitch through the tunnel alongside the North Yorkshire team.
Mr Haworth said: “Everything was set up in the ground for the Super League game and here was our team walking out onto the pitch with the music blaring. It was a bit surreal.
“This is something we have never done before. We took a team who were footballers and taught them how to play a different sport. Then they played their first match in front of thousands of people.
“When the game started, they scored a try quite early, but then our captain James Willetts scored two tries in the first half.
“He was a great captain, leading the team and getting the ball around the pitch. It was a fantastic effort from all the boys and they were all delighted when they won. They went to the supporters in the stand as heroes.”
The school received visits from England and Leeds Rhinos Jamie Peacock MBE and Leyland’s Neil Quinn also coached the side.
Mr Haworth said introducing the sport had a positive impact throughout school with improved attendance and behaviour.
He is planning to continue with the Rugby League team into Year 11 and hopes to interest other schools to take up the sport.
Mr Haworth is also considering holding a rugby festival at Haslingden High School in the future and a rematch against Sherburn.