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Salford v Batley (1901)

Batley go down to Lancashire rivals Salford in the very first season of the Northern Rugby League.

Non-Fiction 1901 8 mins Silent


This is probably the most accomplished of Mitchell and Kenyon's rugby films. It's rich with sporting action from the Northern Rugby League's very first season, and offers rare glimpses of scoring opportunities: a Salford try under the posts and four kicks at goal. Remarkably, there's also an interior shot (rare as hen's teeth in Edwardian films) showing Salford's dressing room in the local pub.

The film is an incredibly atmospheric evocation of the afternoon's entertainment, and an eye-opening record of the speed, brutality and popularity of the sport in northern England at the time. Viewers of the modern Union game (a closer cousin to Northern Rugby League than the post-1907 Rugby League, when many of the game's most distinctive rule changes were set in place) may well recognise a game of explosive action intermixed with persistent and lengthy scrummaging - much to the frustration of many a commentator today.