Former Fax player and coach Pearce dies, aged 94

editorial image

Les Pearce, the former Halifax player and coach, has died, aged 94.

Pearce was born in Swansea and played rugby union for his hometown club before ‘going north’ to turn professional with Fax in 1949.

He spent nearly 10 years at Thrum Hall during the club’s most successful era; they were Championship runners-up three times, Yorkshire Cup winners twice, Yorkshire League winners four times and unbeaten at home between December 1952 and November 1956.

In total, he made 119 appearances between 1949 and 1959, scoring 16 tries.

Pearce turned to coaching after his retirement, initially with Dewsbury and then with Fax, leading his old club to a League Cup Final win in January 1972.

He then moved to Leigh, guiding them to a BBC2 Floodlit Trophy Final win in December 1972. Famously, Pearce once named himself as an unused substitute for Leigh in 1974 when he was 50 years old.

He coached Wales in the 1975 World Cup, including a 12-7 win over England in Brisbane.

He was also in charge when, later in 1975, Wales beat New Zealand, the last time a Welsh team triumphed over the Kiwis in either code.

He then returned to Fax for a second spell in charge at Thrum Hall.