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Chairman's Christmas Message


As Christmas draws close, it’s time to reflect on another year of Rugby League in the city of Sheffield.

And what a year it was! 2022 will be the year that Sheffield Eagles came home! It didn’t go quite according to plan as the opening of the stadium took a little longer than anticipated, but when that memorable day arrived and our men’s team ran out at the Olympic Legacy Park to face Widnes in our televised fixture in front of a bumper home crowd, there weren’t many in the stadium who weren’t moved by the occasion.

The men’s team went on to entertain (and frustrate) us throughout the season, finishing in a respectable league position and giving us all plenty to cheer (and complain) about over the course of the year. Regardless of the results, it felt good to be watching the team play back in Sheffield in a place that we can finally call home.

And of course the club didn’t just come home, it came home with new members of the family.

Our Women’s team, playing in their first season and very quickly embraced by the fans, had a fantastic season by finishing top of League One. That was before putting in an amazing performance in their semi-final at the OLP in front of over 400 paying fans and capping their first season with a playoff final victory at Odsal to move them into the Championship for 2023.  

The Wheelchair team continues to progress and, despite not winning a game all season, has become one of the largest wheelchair clubs in the country. They enjoyed a weekend trip to Dundee to play one of their matches and earlier this month managed a draw against Wigan Warriors. I’m sure that win is not far away for the team.

We also saw our Learning Disability RL team formed and they have quickly become favourites with everyone, playing at every game at the OLP and travelling to several festivals as well as hosting one in Sheffield. This truly demonstrates that Rugby League truly is available to everyone.

It was a magnificent sight to see all four teams represented equally at our awards night, rubbing shoulders with our fans and sponsors and that also demonstrated what this club means to so many - family. Our Eagles Foundation models this value every day in the work that it does to promote the club and Rugby League in our city so well.

The Rugby League World Cup also came to Sheffield! I was hugely honoured to lead the England team out as flag bearer at Bramall Lane for their men’s game vs Greece and was in the stands for several of the eight Wheelchair Rugby League games which were played at the EIS. The World Cup being in the city has helped us tremendously to strike new partnerships to promote Rugby League. I hope that we can attract further internationals in the future.

I first got involved with the Eagles in the late 90s as a sponsor and I joined the Sheffield Eagles Board in 2003. Almost 20 years on I am the longest ever serving director of the club. When I took on the Chairmanship towards the end of the 2016 season the club was in a difficult position financially and it has taken us a good couple of years to steady the ship, to restore our financial health and allow us to rebuild.

With the club on a far steadier footing and with new investment coming into the club, I feel that it is now time for me to step aside as a director and allow others to continue the club’s progress and journey. It has been an immense pleasure to be the Chairman of this club and I will fondly remember all of the ups and downs we have experienced, with one very special memory being our 1895 Cup win at Wembley and leading out the team. Few Chairman have the honour of doing this and I will treasure that day.

I am pleased to report that my association with the club is not over. Whilst the Board has accepted my resignation, they have offered me the role of Club President which I have gladly accepted. I will represent the club as they need me to going forward without having to be part of the decision making and the behind the scenes team. So I look forward to seeing you all in 2023 and beyond!

Finally I would like to wish everyone involved in the club a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year! Whether you are a player, on the coaching staff, a volunteer, a sponsor or one of our many fans, you all do your bit for this club and you are all a valuable cog in the wheel. Thank you for all you do and enjoy your Christmas time – we have a big year to come and we need you all rested and ready to go in January!

Chris Noble MBE