top of page

Aire Wharfe Cup returns to ILKLEY

At The Avenue, Threshfield. Ilkley 2nd XV vs Wharfedale Development XV

Ilkley 23 pts - Wharfedale 10 pts

This final provided an exciting and fitting end to Ilkley’s season and the sight of

young Harry Smith holding the trophy aloft was the icing on an already pretty well

decorated cake for the Stacks Field outfit.

The first XV were 5 points clear of the chasing pack and Champions in league North

One East, the second XV had clinched their league title and the Centurions had

completed a rather truncated season unbeaten.

This final would surely have been the biggest rugby occasion most of the young

ILKLEY players would have experienced, though the inclusion of a smattering of age

and experience in the line up was crucial. Wharfedale too fielded a largely young XV

though they too included some wily and heavyweight campaigners. A tough contest

was expected and whilst the rugby didn’t always come up to Barbarians standard,

the tension and excitement for the large crowd was tangible and audible.

The first half saw ILKLEY playing down the famous slope and they certainly took full


An early penalty was sliced wide but ILKLEY stormed back going close twice before

a the rare sight of a surging ILKLEY scrum provided the platform for Hugo Lawrence

to burst through three tacklers and set the ball up for Archie Elgood. He beat two

more and then popped the ball back for Alec Graham to barge over for the try.

Smith’s kick was good. 7-0.

Wharfedale quickly replied with a penalty goal as ILKLEY failed to clear their lines.


Wharfedale were then pegged back by their propensity to hold on too long or get

themselves in offside positions. One such penalty offence produced a lineout close

to their line and referee Mr Leadbeater was again displeased. Smith despatched this

kick accurately. 10-3.

Wharfedale replied with fury and now it was the ILKLEY side called upon to man the

barricades. Robust and stubborn defence is a calling card of the ILKLEY senior

sides and after several attempts to cross the ILKLEY line a lineout was stolen and

Sam Rowntree broke out to the 22. The ball was lost and back came the men in

green only to be frustrated again. This time Smith cleared. Another defensive set

was still required before ILKLEY regained their composure as they once again

benefitted from Wharfedale indiscretions. Two penalty kicks to touch saw Sam

Rowntree, immense throughout the half, set up Smith for a great try on the stroke of

half time. The conversion was good. 17-3.

Half time.

Now it was the uphill part of the contest for the young ILKLEY side.

Well, it’s true to state that the second half was rather lacking in the quality of the

rugby played in the first. Interspersed with penalties, the majority of which were

conceded by Wharfedale and combined with handling errors from both sides there

were only three more scores in this enthralling and occasionally bruising encounter.

Notably the ILKLEY scrum were increasingly dominant throughout and, crucially, this

superiority built as the game progressed.

Smith added two penalty goals on 68 and 75 minutes to stretch the lead to 23-3.

Wharfedale engineered a superb consolation try with a couple of minutes to go.

Final score 23-10.

Most, if not all, the 7 replacements nominated for the match got at least a part of the

game and every one of them will have enjoyed the sight of their captain lifting the

trophy before the famous “oh!oh!…..we are the ILKLEY boys” rang out around the

green hills of Threshfield.

Thanks go to the three match officials, Messrs Leadbeater, Brocksom and Bex and

to the Wharfedale club for laying on a great night and particularly to John Riley for

single handedly organising the whole Aire Wharfe tournament.

The ILKLEY team was: 1. Ollie Ham, 2. Jack Popely, 3. Hugo Lawrence, 4. Alec

Graham, 5. Jack Wolstencroft, 6. Sam Davison, 7. Max Jones, 8. Sam Rowntree, 9.

Archie Elgood, 10. Harry Smith (c), 11. Harry Brow, 12. Joe Hawden, 13. Ben

Rawnsley, 14. Tom Heap, 15. Keiron Parker, 16. Joe Paton, 17. Nat Robinson, 18.

Ed Finch, 19. Callum Gillon, 20. Fred Gazeley, 21. Alex Jewett, 22. Angus Kinder.

Changed but relieved not to be required, Jon Hutchinson.

Images of this game/season and previous season’s games may be viewed at:


bottom of page