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Leicester Tigers History and Highlights

Leicester Tigers are a professional rugby club that plies its trade in the highest level of the sport in England, the Premiership Rugby.

The club was founded in 1880 following the merger of three amateur teams: Leicester Amateurs, Leicester Alert, and Leicester Athletic Society. The idea was for these teams to form and turn themselves into a formidable force in the game.

The club set high standards from the start, and, as the years have gone on, those standards have remained. Many within the organization will argue that this is why success has gone hand in hand with the Leicester Tigers.

The Origins

The club’s name is actually just Leicester Football Club, and while there are a few reasons as to where the nickname comes from, there’s no doubt that the term ‘Tiger’ fits nicely into the club’s ethos.

While the team has worn several differently-colored kits since its creation, it has mostly stuck to a striped pattern. The colors green, red and white have been present more often than others and are still present in the 2021-22 season.

Leicester played its matches at Mattioli Woods Welford Road, which first opened in 1892 and accommodated 3,000 spectators. Since its opening, the club has renovated it many times, even coming close to sharing Leicester City FC’s ground in 2005 and 2016. These days, the capacity of the stadium is 25,849.

Record Breakers

As an amateur team, the Leicester Tigers competed in the ‘Midland Counties Cup,’ a competition that took place between 1881-1926. Leicester would go on an 8-year title-winning streak between 1898 and 1905 before winning 4 out of the possible 5 between 1909 and 1913. It was the most successful team in the Midland Counties Cup before the competition was discontinued.

Since the creation of the reformatted Premiership Rugby league in 1987, the team has won the title a record 11 times.

Leicester was the first team to win the title in 1988 despite playing one game less than its closest rivals, the Wasps, who were just a point away in second place. Its most successful period began in 1999 when it won the title after a four-year wait, winning 22 out of the possible 26 matches and finishing 6 points ahead of second-placed Northampton Saints.

The Leicester Tigers would then win the following 3 titles, as well as 2 European Cups in 2001 and 2002. The success was attributed to having a high number of national players, 11 of whom were English and represented England at the Rugby World Cup.

Hall of Fame

Not many teams can boast of having a player inducted into the World Rugby Hall of Fame, yet the Leicester Tigers can claim 6. These include Tony O’Reilly, Martin Johnson, Clive Woodward, Bob Dwyer, Waisale Serevi, and Wavell Wakefield.

Martin Johnson and Clive Woodward are two men who have recently tasted success with the national team, winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

Johnson, known as one of the game’s greatest ever players, made an incredible 362 appearances for the Tigers, leading the team to 5 Premiership Rugby titles and 2 Heineken Cup wins. As well as winning the World Cup in 2003, he also won 5 Six Nations Championships.

Woodward played for Leicester between 1979-85 but was better known for his coaching ability. As well as winning the Rugby World Cup with Johnson, he also guided England to three 6 Nations Championship titles in 2000, 2001, and 2003.