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Wednesday, October 6, 1999 Published at 17:31 GMT

Sport: Rugby League: News

Historic name disappears from league

The merged club will need a new badge as well as a new name

The name of Huddersfield, where rugby league was born in 1895, is to disappear from the ranks of professional clubs.

The Giants' merger plans with Sheffield were accepted by the game's bosses.

But the plan for a Huddersfield club to join the Northern Ford Premiership (NFP) for 2000 was rejected.

The Rugby Football League Council delayed a decision on the merger proposal put forward by Hull and Gateshead, because of a lack of detail from the two clubs.

Hunslet's application to join the game's elite division will also not be decided until next week.

The Premiership Grand Final winners have until Saturday to prove they can meet the requirements for Super League.

They are believed to be considering merging with Bramley and playing matches at Headingley.

Doncaster have been granted full membership of the NFP, in one of two rulings made by the RFL in Leeds on Wednesday.

Yorkshire name proposed

The other is that a club formed from Sheffield and Huddersfield will play in the fifth season of Super League, probably under the name Yorkshire.

Huddersfield are believed to have acquired a 75% stake in the merged club, but the loss of the town's name is a blow to traditionalists.

It was at a meeting at the George Hotel in the West Yorkshire town that the Northern Union was founded in a breakaway move from the Rugby Football Union in a row over professionalism.

The breakaway organisation later became the Rugby Football League as Huddersfield became the dominant force in the game in the early part of this century.

Six Challenge Cups and seven championships preceded a lengthy decline and the club almost going out of existence in the late 1980s.

Despite the backing of millionaire chairman Ken Davy they have twice finished bottom of Super League since they joined in 1998.

Sweetener plan fails

The merger entitles the club to a share of a £1.25m pay-out from Super League.

But their plan to pacify supporters by continuing the famous name in the game's second tier failed.

The opposition of the Association of Premiership Clubs (APC) was backed by the RFL Council in Leeds on Wednesday.

"The APC clubs made it clear that for the 1999-2000 season they did not wish to consider any applications for membership from any new clubs," said RFL chairman Sir Rodney Walker.

"Based upon that, the new consortia withdrew their application and proceeded only with the application for membership of the new Super League club."

The NFP season starts on Boxing Day this year but APC chairman Bob McDermott said Huddersfield would be welcome to apply for the 2000/01 season.

"Because the Super League have indicated that for the 2002 season clubs will have to reapply for their franchises, there is a possibility that a number of existing Super League clubs could find they are defranchised," said McDermott.

"We will start putting a mechanism in place to ensure that we can find a place for these clubs as and when they come down from the top division."

Huddersfield chairman Ken Davy was bitterly disappointed with the decision.

"We had positive indications from the Rugby Football League board and chief executive Neil Tunnicliffe that clubs from Super League would be accepted in the Premiership," he said.

"I can assure all the supporters that the great traditions of rugby league in Huddersfield will not only continue but will go from strength to strength."

Officials of the new club are seeking suggestions for a new name and hope to make an announcement early next week.

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