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Roy Francis (rugby)

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Title: Roy Francis (rugby)  
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Subject: North Sydney Bears, Leeds Rhinos, Dewsbury Rams, Rugby league in England, Ken Irvine, 1970 NSWRFL season, 1969 NSWRFL season, Joe Warham, Bradford Bulls statistics, Brynmawr RFC
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Roy Francis (rugby)

L. Roy Francis is a Welsh former professional rugby league footballer and coach of the mid 20th century. He was the first Black British professional coach in any sport. Francis was also a highly accomplished player, scoring 229 tries in his 356 career games, chiefly as a winger. A Great Britain and Wales national representative three-quarter back, he played for English clubs Wigan, Barrow, Dewsbury (as a guest), Warrington and Hull. Francis then became a coach with Hull. Renowned for his innovative coaching methods, he was regarded as a visionary, leading Hull to title success before going on to win the Challenge Cup with Leeds. He then broke further ground by moving on to coach in Australia with the North Sydney Bears before another brief stint at Leeds, and then Bradford Northern.

Playing career

Francis came from Tiger Bay, Wales. He played rugby union for Brynmawr RFC before joining English rugby league club Wigan as a seventeen-year-old [1] on 14 November 1936. He made his Wigan debut on 26 March 1937. He moved to Barrow in January 1939 but then served in the Army during the Second World War. He played rugby union in the Army and also made guest appearances for Dewsbury. Francis became a Sergeant in the British Army during World War II.[2] He played at centre for Northern Command XIII against a Rugby League XIII at Thrum Hall, Halifax on Saturday 21 March 1942.[2] Francis played at centre, i.e. number 4 in Dewsbury's 14–25 aggregate defeat to Wigan in the 1943–44 Rugby Football League Championship final; the 9-13 first-leg defeat at Central Park, Wigan on Saturday 13 May 1944, and scored a try in the 5-12 second-leg defeat at Crown Flatt, Dewsbury on Saturday 20 May 1944.[3]

Returning to Barrow after the war, Francis represented Great Britain but was controversially overlooked for one Ashes tour to Australia for political reasons, the organisers fearing the ructions that could be caused by travelling to a country with an infamous bar on non-white people. He joined Warrington for £800 in July 1948. He moved to Hull in November 1949 for a fee of £1,250. Francis played his last game on Boxing Day 1955 before switching to coaching, a field in which he was to make an even greater impact.

Coaching career

Francis' man-management, coaching methods and use of psychological techniques were considered years ahead of their time. He was the first coach to embrace players' families and offer them transport to games. He left Hull for Leeds in 1963[4] and oversaw their victory in the 1967–68 Northern Rugby Football League season's 'Watersplash' Challenge Cup final at Wembley.

Francis moved to Sydney to coach the North Sydney Bears for the 1969 NSWRFL season and stayed until 1970.

From 1971 to 1973 Francis was Hull FC's team manager.[5] He won a Premiership title back at Leeds in 1974, and then coached Bradford Northern from 1975.


  1. ^ University of Keele; Bale, John; Maguire, Joseph (1994). The Global Sports Arena: Athletic talent migration in an interdependent world. UK: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. p. 28. ISBN . 
  2. ^ a b "inside programme, Northern Command v. A Rugby League XIII, 1942". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  3. ^ "1943-1944 War Emergency League Championship Final". 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Hull Daily MailLocal lad who sealed his place in city's heart (1 January 2006)
  5. ^ "Coaches and Captains". History. Hull FC. Retrieved 18 December 2011. 

External links

  • Statistics at
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