Rugby league tournament held in memory of Nick Smith

Nick Smith with Rachel, Hadyn and Georgia.
Nick Smith with Rachel, Hadyn and Georgia.

A tournament for young rugby league players set up in memory of Siddal player Nick Smith, who died last year aged 38 from Motor Neurone Disease, has taken place at his former club.

Nick, known as Smudger, joined Siddal ARLFC when he was eight and played for the club at all age levels. He also spent time playing for Leeds Rhinos Academy and Sheffield Eagles.

The charity set up in his name, The Nick Smith Foundation, and Siddal ARLFC came together to launch the Smudger U7s Tournament and the first event took place on Sunday, September 2.

Over 70 young people from Siddal plus Drighlington ARLFC, Illingworth ARLFC and Underbank Rangers came together for the event which will be held annually.

Each of the players received a ball, sponsored by ADD Express Ltd, and Smudger’s Top Tips. While Leeds Rhino’s legend Ronnie Rhino also joined the event to cheer on the youngsters.

Parents, family and friends of the players, members of the Siddal rugby family and the wider rugby league community, including players from Hull KR, Huddersfield Giants and Halifax were at the event.

As was Nick’s family – including his wife Rachel, children Hadyn and Georgia, mum Viv, sister Helen and grandparents Jim and Maura. Nick’s son Hadyn, aged six, was part of the event playing in the Siddal Tykes team.

Nick’s brother-in-law Stephen Naylor, who is the Chair of the charity, said: “One of the objectives of The Nick Smith Foundation is supporting amateur rugby league by encouraging young people to take up and then keep playing. It played such a significant part in Nick’s life from childhood to adulthood and we know that he would be both incredibly proud and humbled that an event such as this was taking place in his memory and his name.

“I’d like to thank all the organisers of the event, all the children and families who took part and everyone else who supported it – by donating, buying cakes, drinks or sandwiches or simply being there #ForSmudger.”