A crowd of 20,000 watched this top-of-the-table Lancashire League clash at Oldham's Watersheddings ground. After the breakaway from the Rugby Football Union in 1895, the Northern Union gradually introduced rule changes. By 1906 the 15-a-side game, as here, would become 13-a-side, while 'play the ball' replaced the use of scrums to restart after every tackle. Oldham emerged 1901's League winners.
The Northern Rugby Football Union, better known as Northern Union, was formed in 1895, when prominent Yorkshire and Lancashire clubs resigned from the Rugby Football Union in a dispute over compensation for players taking time off work. All the major differences between the two codes would be established by 1907.