Former Rugby League referee donates her memorabilia to Heritage Quay collection

A collection of unique Women’s Rugby League memorabilia has found a new home in Huddersfield – the birth place of Rugby League.

The collection, which belongs to former Rugby League referee Julia Lee from Huddersfield, has been added to the Rugby Football League Archive at Heritage Quay the archives service for the University of Huddersfield.

The items Julia is donating include a signed England Wildcats rugby shirt, scrapbooks, photographs and a rugby ball signed by the Great Britain Lionesses who toured New Zealand in 1998

Julia Lee refereeing in 1991. Image courtesy of Andrew Varley agency.

The formation of a special collection of women’s rugby league material in the Rugby Football League (RFL) archive at Heritage Quay is being funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund as part of a project called Life with the Lioness

Julia, the first woman to referee men’s Rugby League in the 1980s, is leading the project which aims to uncover documents, celebrate the history of women in Rugby League and inspire future generations. 

Julia is delighted that her collection has been accepted by Rugby League Cares, a charity which offers support to players and former players, and deposited at Heritage Quay.  She is keen for other former women RL players and supporters to get involved:

“We are trying to get in contact with previous Lionesses and women who have supported rugby league throughout their lives,” she said. 

“If you have any items of interest you might like to share, or stories of playing, coaching or your involvement in women’s rugby league please get in touch with us and help to raise the profile of the women’s game.”

Julia Lee with her Rugby League memorabilia.

As well as encouraging contact from former Lionesses, The Life with the Lionesses project is looking for volunteers to help with cataloguing the collection.

Dr Becky Bowd, University Archivist at Heritage Quay, said:

“I’m delighted to add Julia’s collection to the RFL Archive at Heritage Quay. The Life with the Lioness project is a fantastic opportunity to raise awareness of women’s contribution to rugby league.

“Women are currently under-represented across many of our collections, but especially so in the RFL Archive. We hope this project will uncover stories and collections that will lead to increased female representation in the RFL Archive.”

If you would like to get involved contact and to find out more about the project go to

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