200 Club – No.31 – Paul Rose

Category: Heritage

200 Club – No.31 – Paul Rose

Paul Rose was born in Hull in December 1952; joining Rovers as a junior. His obvious potential saw him quickly accelerated through the A team, and he made his first team debut as a substitute at home to Leigh on 27 September 1969. At just over 16 years and nine months, he was the youngest player to play for Rovers’ first team since they joined the Northern Union in 1897.  After four more substitute appearances, he made his first full senior start, deputising for Phil Lowe in a 12-5 home win over Dewsbury on 7 April 1970.  

Deprived of inspirational skipper Roger Millward for much of the 1970/71 season, the Robins’ lowest finish for over ten years saw them 13th out of 30 clubs. But the young Rose established himself as a regular first-teamer, appearing in 29 of that season’s 41 games, with 23 second row starts, mainly alongside either Phil Lowe or Eric Palmer. He also scored his first senior try, in a 17-13 win at Barrow. 

The following season, 1971/72, Rose was picked to play at loose-forward for the first time in a 31-11 home win over Leigh, and he celebrated with two tries. Eleven of his 26 appearances that season came in the no 13 jersey. But it was another ‘in and out’ season for the Robins, culminating in a run of only one win in the last nine games, and Rose was one of the casualties, losing his place after a defeat in the return match at Leigh in March.  

After making such progress in his first two full seasons, 1972/73 proved something of a set-back for the young second-rower. Injured in the fourth game, he returned in early October but in his fourth game back, was sent off for the first time in a 22-10 win at Doncaster. After that, he made only two more appearances before absenting himself from training for the rest of the season.  

He returned to training during the close season, explaining that he had been saving to get married and could earn more at work than by playing, and he had an outstanding 1973/74 season. Whilst the side struggled badly in the newly-reformed first division, ultimately failing to stave off relegation, Rose stepped up to the challenge. He played in 31 of the 38 matches, his form earning him a place on the 1974 Great Britain tour to Australiasia. Perhaps in his favour was that after playing in his usual back row positions in the first six games, he was moved up to prop to help resolve the Robins’ front row problems, and did this so successfully that he remained there for most of the season.  

In the ensuing 1974/75 promotion season, he made 26 appearances before the end of February, but was perhaps the victim of his versatility, and was switched regularly between prop and second row. He lost his starting place after a home win against Huyton in mid-January, and in his third consecutive match on the bench, he watched as an over-physical Workington side meted out some rough treatment to his teammates, particularly Roger Millward. Brought into the fray mid-way through the second half, Rose immediately extracted revenge on the principal offender, and quickly found himself back in the dressing room.  

At the time, Aussie full-back Bob Smithies was with the Robins, and his club back home, Dapto, offered Rose a six-month contract to play in the 1975 season ‘down under’. It was a great opportunity for the still young man, and Rovers agreed, not without misgivings, to allow him to take it.  

Returning to action for the Robins in a 24-13 win over Castleford, Rose immediately showed his best form and made an instant impression on new coach Harry Poole. But disciplinary issues were starting to become a concern, and his season ended early, after a second sending-off in the season. Early in 1976/77, Phil Lowe returned to Craven Park after a three-year stint with Manly, and his second-row partnership with Rose, coupled with the presence of Len Casey at loose man, gave Rovers a formidable back row. Rose had another fine season and Rovers had the makings of a very successful side – the low point being the tragic passing of coach Harry Poole in March 1977. 

1977/78 was notable for the fantastic night at old Craven Park when Rovers beat St Helens 26-11 to win the BBC2 Floodlit Trophy. The win set them on their way towards the most successful spell in their history. Rose had a fine game, scoring the try that put Rovers into a lead they never lost when, after his powerful charge was halted on the line, he played the ball to himself to dive over for a characteristic try. Then, midway through the second half, his slipped pass started a four-man move that ended with a Ged Dunn try and gave Rovers an unassailable 21-3 lead.  

After missing five of the early games through injury, Rose returned to resume his second-row partnership with Lowe and played a full part in setting the Robins on their way to their first Division 1 title in 1978/79. Unfortunately though, Rose missed the run-in to the championship after sustaining a dislocated shoulder at the end of March. His compensation was a championship-winners medal and a £16,000 benefit cheque.  

Despite unsuccessful efforts to return to action the following November, Rose returned in January 1980, and played a full part in the Challenge Cup run, ultimately being a key member of the team that beat Hull FC at Wembley that year. It was to be the final highlight of Rose’s career at Craven Park. The following season, after two further dismissals, and differences of opinion with his coach, he decided that he needed a fresh start and was transfer-listed at his own request. It was to be some time before he got his wish however, but in August 1982 he moved to Hull FC for £30,000.  

In all, Paul Rose made 270 appearances for the Robins, scoring 43 tries, many of them by using his strength to power over from play-the-balls near the opposition line. He was without doubt one of the finest second-rowers ever to play for the club; a powerful and direct runner, who was at his most destructive when taking a short pass at full speed and bursting through opposing defences. With his ability to get the ball away in the tackle and his uncompromising defence, he was a perfect foil for Lowe. Their second-row partnership is widely felt to be best the club has had. He was amiable and friendly off the field, if, however, occasionally over-aggressive on it. 

Rose played in 95 games for the Black & Whites before retiring in 1985, winning a further championship medal and appearing in two more Wembley finals. During his 16-year career in senior football, he won seven international caps. By the time he retired, he was a very popular licensee at the Royal Oak in Paull, later moving to Leek in Staffordshire where he worked as a coach driver. He has suffered badly from arthritis for many years, a legacy of his rugby career. 

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