WRL announce first two Hall of Fame members

Wales Rugby League have chosen Billy Boston and Gus Risman as their first two inductees in their newly formed official Hall of Fame.

It was a natural choice as both are already in the RFL’s Hall of Fame and were immortalised on the recently unveiled Rugby League statue outside Wembley Stadium.

The first celebration dinner takes place on Monday 25th April at the Village Hotel Chester St David’s in North Wales and Boston is amongst Wales players past and present who has already confirmed his attendance.

Also attending will be 1970s Welsh international John Risman, the son of Gus.

As well as officially inducting the two players into the Hall of Fame, the players from last season’s Wales senior side, who won the European Championship after beating Scotland, France and Ireland, will be presented with their winners medals.

Wales Rugby League’s chairman Brian Juliff, who was also a Welsh international, said: “Choosing individuals from so many worthy candidates has been ridiculously difficult but we already have some key names listed in the Rugby Football League Hall of Fame to help us on our way.

“On that basis we have agreed that our first two inductees will be Billy Boston and Gus Risman.

“Gus and Billy are of course are already immortalised on the bronze statue at Wembley Stadium which in itself is quite a remarkable in that two out of five people on the tribute are of Welsh heritage.

“Choosing modern players to sit alongside our immortals will always be a challenge but having already canvassed support on our candidates for selection, have no doubt that our future choices for induction will be warmly received. Cymru Am Byth.”

To book your place at the historic first WRL Hall of Fame and Wales Rugby League medal presentation dinner, e-mail: WalesTeamManager@walesrugbyleague.co.uk or chris.thair@walesrugbyleague.co.uk or call 07734598600.

Here are profiles of the first two inductees of the Wales Rugby League Hall of Fame…

Billy Boston was born on 6th August 1934 in Tiger Bay, Cardiff and played rugby union for Cardiff International Athletic Club, Pontypridd RFC and Neath RFC. Wigan were alerted to him when he was serving with the Royal Signals at Catterick and when he made his ‘A’ team début a crowd of 8,000 assembled inside Central Park, Wigan. He made his first team début against Barrow in November 1953 scoring a try. For the next 15 seasons he was a living legend and played his 488th and final game for the club in 1968. He’d scored 478 tries, virtually one per game, during that time. Boston also played 31 games for Great Britain scoring 24 tries. He was the first non-white player to be selected to tour Australia and New Zealand. This was in 1954, on which he set a new Lions record of 36 tries in 18 games. Boston also played in the 1962 tour, scoring a further 22 tries. Towards the end of his career, Boston played for Blackpool Borough, making his final appearance in 1970. He scored a total of 571 tries in his career, making him the second highest all-time try scorer in the history of the game after Brian Bevan. Boston became one of less than twenty-five Welshmen to have scored more than 1,000-points in their rugby league career. After finishing his playing career, he took over the running of the Griffin Hotel pub near Central Park until his retirement. In 1986, he was awarded an MBE for his services to the game of rugby league, and the Billy Boston Stand at Central Park was named in his honour. Similarly, the East Stand at the DW Stadium was officially renamed after Billy Boston in 2009. He is an original inductee of the British Rugby League Hall of Fame and is also in the Welsh Sports Hall of Fame and Wigan Warriors Hall of Fame. Boston will always be known as the greatest player never to win a Welsh cap. This is not because of his lack of ability, far from it. Wales only played two full internationals when Billy was in his prime and he was injured on both those occasions. He only ever pulled on a Welsh shirt in an exhibition match against France B.

Augustus John Ferdinand Risman was born in Cardiff on 21st March 1911. Winner of 18 Welsh caps, he was heritage #118, scoring five tries and kicking six goals, he also won 17 Great Britain caps, captaining the 1946 “Indomitable” tourists of Australia, and guested for England in a promotional international in France. A rugby union player for Barry schools, he was snapped up by Salford at aged 18 after interest from Tottenham Hotspur as he was also an accomplished association footballer. In a remarkable club career he scored 143 tries and kicked 789 goals in 427 appearances in a 17-year spell for Salford before joining Workington Town aged 35 and playing for another eight years, making 301 appearances, scoring 33 tries and kicking 716 goals. During World War II he guested for Leeds, Bradford Northern, Hunslet and Dewsbury and he finished his playing career with a short spell at Batley. In total his full-time pro player career reads 828 appearances, 203 tries, 1623 goals, 3855 points. He went on to coach Workington, Whitehaven, Oldham and Bradford Northern. His oldest son Bev was also a great player but he chose to play for England. However his oldest son John was also a Welsh international. Gus died in Workington in 1994 aged 83 and as a tribute, one of the newly created streets in Workington’s regenerated town centre was named Risman Place.