Tributes paid to prominent former promotion-winning Rotherham rugby coach Jim Kilfoyle

Tributes paid to prominent former promotion-winning Rotherham rugby coach Jim Kilfoyle

By David Beddows | 29/12/2020

Tributes paid to prominent former promotion-winning Rotherham rugby coach Jim Kilfoyle

TRIBUTES have been paid to former Rotherham Rugby Club coach and chief executive Jim Kilfoyle, one of the main figures of the glory years at Clifton Lane.


The popular Liverpudlian, who died on Boxing Day, led the team when it capped its rise up the domestic leagues with promotion to the Premiership in 2000.


A hugely respected figure in Yorkshire rugby, Jim was recruited by then Rotherham owner Mike Yarlett after impressing as a player and then coach at Wakefield at a time when they were one of the top outfits in northern England.


His coaching skills, man management and forward thinking philosophy proved a big asset, helping Rotherham became one of the most feared teams outside the top flight before finally reaching it after a two-legged play-off against Bedford.


Russ Earnshaw, part of the Rotherham team during their first season in the Premiership, said: "Jim Kilfoyle is everything rugby is about. A top bloke and had a huge impact on rugby in Yorkshire and beyond."


Another former Rotherham man, Dan Cook, added: "Sorry to hear about the passing of Jim. I knew him bet from his Rotherham days but he had a much wider impact on the game."


Jim, who worked as a school teacher, remained a big team figure when Rotherham pulled off two landmark wins in France in European competition in the 2000/01 campaign, beating Perpignan and then Grenoble.


Even though relegation back to the second tier followed, the man nicknamed "Tinners" retained an influential role as chief executive and argued the club's case when it was harshly denied promotion back to the Premiership by the RFU in 2002 for failing to meet the required criteria.


Titans responded by earning promotion once again the following year, with Jim and the Clifton Lane hierarchy brokering a deal to play matches at Rotherham United's then home at Millmoor.


Jim also coached Yorkshire to two County Championships and after leaving Rotherham he joined Sandal as coach in 2006 where he enjoyed more promotion success.


He was described by one rugby fan this week as a man who helped Rotherham "live the dream."