Bramley Legend - Willis Rushton - Bramley Buffaloes

Classy three-quarter Willis made his debut for Bramley at stand-off in the 12-5 home victory against fierce neighbours Hunslet on the 25th February 1956.  His first try for the club came in a stunning 31-10 home thrashing of Castleford while his other try of the season was scored in the 7-21 defeat at Hunslet’s Parkside ground.

The 1956-57 season saw Willis split his 36 appearances between left centre, left wing and stand-off.   Irrespective of where he played he ended the season scoring a very impressive 17 ties in 36 appearances including braces at home to Swinton (33-2) and Castleford (33-12) and in the 28-0 away victory at Doncaster.  He scored in three successive matches in April, the 10-17 defeat at Castleford then in the home win versus Castleford and finally in the 30-12 victory at the Barley Mow against Doncaster.

Willis played his 50th game for Bramley in their 15-13 home victory against Swinton with Willis celebrating by scoring Bramley’s only try in the match.  In the 32 matches he played during the 1957-58 season he crossed the try-line six times including two in the 19-all draw at Dewsbury and then against Swinton as mentioned plus tries against Dewsbury at home (11-6) and then a week later in the 17-3 home win versus Huddersfield  and 17-0 thumping of Hull KR at the Barley Mow.

The 1958-59 season was a record-breaking season for Willis as he broke the Bramley tries in a season record when he ended the season with twenty tries to his name, a record that would not be equalled until the 1972-73 season when Australian-born centre Alan Smith totalled twenty and wouldn’t be beaten until Peter Lister’s amazing 34 tries in season 1985-86.  Willis scored in five consecutive matches during August and September with two tries in the 18-12 home victory against Featherstone, followed by scoring against Dewsbury 22-14 also at home and then in the defeats at Huddersfield (7-21) and at home to Hull in the Yorkshire Cup (16-34) and then in the 30-15 home win versus Keighley.  Later in the season he scored a brace of tries in the 14-4 victory at Dewsbury and then surpassed that with a hat-trick in a nail-biting 15-13 tussle at home to the Gallant Youths Batley with his record-breaking tries coming as he crossed the line for two tries at home to Doncaster.  This season also saw Willis make his 100th appearance when he faced Huddersfield at the Barley Mow in a tight struggle that Bramley finally went down 4-9.

While he couldn’t reproduce the form of the previous season, Willis was still one of the outstanding Bramley players of the 1959-60 season as he clocked up another ten tries in 37 appearances.  The highlight of the season was reaching the quarter-final of the Rugby League Challenge cup before losing 2-8 to the powerful Oldham side.  Willis had scored the only try in the first round 3-3 draw at Liverpool City where Bramley then won the replay convincingly 39-0.

The opening match of the 1960-61 season was his 150th match for the club, sadly it resulted in a 13-21 home defeat to Halifax.  Willis topped the Bramley try-scoring list again, although during a tough season his total was with just nine tries.  Memorable performances were his two tries in the 10-7 home victory against Hull KR in the Yorkshire Cup and tries in the 10-5 win at Hunslet and then in the tight 8-7 home win against Keighley.

The final match of the 1961-62 season brought Willis his 200th appearance in the black and amber of Bramley, the side celebrated with a 23-16 victory.  Willis scored two tries in the 27-16 home win against Hull KR and also scored tries in the away matches at Hull KR (10-16) and Rochdale (14-14).

After the disappointing return of just four tries the previous season, Willis was back to his best during the 1962-63 season as he finished the season with 11 tries, just two behind Wrigglesworth.  He scored crucial tries in the victories at home to York (15-7) and the following match against Hull (23-14) in the Eastern Division Championship and in the away match at Hull KR (20-12) and the next match at home to Huddersfield (10-7) and also in the 15-9 home victory against Halifax.

The 1963-64 season would be his last at Bramley and he ended the season with four tries in thirteen appearances.  He scored two tries in the 40-12 thrashing at home to Liverpool City and scored his final try for the club in the 17-9 home victory against Leigh, with his final match being the 2-6 home defeat to Doncaster.  He ended his career as the most prolific try-scorer in the long history of the club, a true legend.

Career Details

Season              Appearances           Tries          Goals         Points

1955-56                      8                          2                                   6

1956-57                    36                        17                                 51

1957-58                    32                          6                                 18

1958-59                    36                        20                                 60

1959-60                    37                        10                                 30

1960-61                    29                          9                                 27

1961-62                    22                          4                                 12

1962-63                    34                        11                                 33

1963-64                    13                          4                                 12


Totals                     247                        83                                249