Rugby and coalminers in the north of England formed an unbreakable bond as far as back as the 1880s. Rugby league was built on pit villages and mining towns. Of the first ten members of the RFL Hall of Fame, three were miners.
But as this episode of ‘Rugby Reloaded’ explains, this link went much deeper, because both mining and rugby league were seen as exemplars of working-class toughness, teamwork and identity, a spirit which continues even today, long after the last pits have closed.
For more on the history of rugby and the other football codes, take a look at www.rugbyreloaded.com (where you can find the links for this episode) and follow me on Twitter at @collinstony