Denis Betts

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Denis Betts
Personal information
Full name Denis Charles Betts[1]
Born (1969-09-14) 14 September 1969 (age 48)
Salford, Lancashire, England
Playing information
Height 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Position Second row
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1986–95 Wigan
1995–97 Auckland Warriors 42 11 0 0 44
1998–01 Wigan Warriors 116 34 1 138
Total 158 45 1 0 182
Years Team Pld T G FG P
1989–90 Great Britain U-21 4
1990–99 Great Britain 32 8 0 0 32
1995 England 4 1 0 0 4
Coaching information
Years Team Gms W D L W%
2004–05 Wigan Warriors[2]
2010– Widnes Vikings
Total 0 0 0 0
Source: [3][4][5][6]

Denis Charles Betts (born 14 September 1969 in Salford, Lancashire) is an English rugby league coach and former player. He is the current head coach of the Widnes Vikings in the Super League, and assistant coach of England.

He played for Wigan in the Championship and Super League, for the Auckland Warriors in the Australian National Rugby League, usually as a second-row forward.

He won 4 caps for England and 32 for Great Britain, taking part in two Rugby League World Cups, in 1989-92 and 1995, reaching the final in both.

Early life

Betts attended Clarendon High School and has a younger brother, Darren Betts – also a talented rugby and football player who played for Salford in the 1990s. Betts was also a former Manchester United youth team player and was featured in an Inside United article in 2008 about former United players who went on to succeed in other sports.

Betts signed for Wigan from Leigh Miners[7] ARL (also known as Leigh Rangers) on 14 October 1986.

Playing career

Betts galvanised a great Wigan team, his own medal haul including six Championships, seven Rugby League Challenge Cups, three Premierships, four John Player/Regal Trophies and two Lancashire County Cup. He also received the Lance Todd Trophy (1991) and the coveted Man of Steel Award (1995). He featured in three World Club Challenge matches for Wigan, winning two, against Penrith Panthers in 1991 and Brisbane Broncos in 1994. Betts scored the opening try in the last game at Central Park, Wigan and the first try at the JJB Stadium.

At the height of the Super League War he signed a lucrative deal with the new team the Auckland Warriors (coached by former Wigan coach John Monie) in 1995. Later that year Betts became the first player to win both England and Great Britain caps while not playing in the English leagues. With former Wigan team-mate Shaun Edwards ruled out with injury, Betts was selected to captain England from the second row in the 1995 Rugby League World Cup Final at Wembley Stadium, but Australia won the match 16–8 and retained the Rugby League World Cup. Betts' selection as captain of England saw him become the first player given the honour while not playing in the English leagues.

Betts returned to Wigan in 1998, and played in the side that lost to Sheffield Eagles in the Challenge Cup Final that year. He missed the 1998 Super League Grand Final win that year through injury. He played in their 2000 Grand Final loss to St. Helens and their 2001 Grand Final loss to the Bradford Bulls.

Betts was persuaded to retire from playing at the age of 32, to help Wigan get under the salary cap.[8]

He made 32 appearances for Great Britain, the joint highest ever for a forward, and toured three times, in 1990, 1992 and 1996. He also captained England in the 1995 World Cup Final, which they lost to Australia at Wembley in front of 66,540 fans.

Coaching career

At the end of 2001, Betts moved into coaching as under-18s coach at Wigan, and progressed to under-21s, which he led to victory in the 2003 U21 Grand Final.[9] In July 2003, Stuart Raper was sacked as Wigan coach, and he was replaced by Mike Gregory. Gregory then appointed Betts as his assistant. Wigan's results improved and they went on reach the Grand Final, only to lose to Bradford. The following season, Wigan reached another final, losing this time to St. Helens in the Challenge Cup Final. Betts then took temporary charge in May 2004 when Gregory stepped down due to illness. He held the position for a year before he was moved sideways by the club to make way for the appointment of new head coach Ian Millward, who had left St. Helens just two weeks earlier and was recruited for his experience. Betts continued to work under Millward until the end of the 2005 season but left in November after refusing to take a post as coaching the academy U21 side.[10]

In January 2006 he took up a post as skills and development coach with Guinness Premiership rugby union club Gloucester, a position which he left in June 2010,[11] despite having another year on his contract. Speaking about his time at Gloucester, he said "It's a really passionate place and I hope they can get the success they deserve. I really enjoyed the place, especially the match-day atmosphere and the Shed."[12]

While at Gloucester, Betts emerged as a surprise contender for the vacant England coaching job,[13] which he applied for in March 2010, ultimately losing out to Bradford's Steve McNamara.

In November 2010, Betts was appointed coach of Championship side Widnes.[14] In May 2011, he was reappointed to manage Widnes into the Super League in 2012.[15]

Betts was appointed assistant coach to Wayne Bennett with England in April 2016. England finished third in the 2016 Four Nations and were runners-up in the 2017 World Cup.


  1. ^ "Index entry". FreeBMD. ONS. Retrieved 18 July 2017. 
  2. ^ "Wigan Rugby League - Coaching Register". CherryAndWhite. Retrieved 12 June 2015. 
  3. ^ England Statistics at
  4. ^ Great Britain Statistics at
  5. ^ Statistics at
  6. ^ Coaching Statistics at
  7. ^ Leigh Miners Rangers – About Us
  8. ^
  9. ^
  10. ^ Malin, Ian (11 January 2006). "Rugby union: Gloucester gamble on Betts to help continue revival". The Guardian. London. 
  11. ^ "Coach Betts departs Gloucester". BBC News. 21 June 2010. 
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2012. Retrieved 27 September 2011. 
  13. ^ "Betts in frame for England job". Sportinglife. 29 March 2010. Retrieved 29 March 2010. 
  14. ^ Wilson, Andy (10 November 2010). "Denis Betts returns as head coach of Widnes". The Guardian. London. 
  15. ^ "Denis Betts to lead Widnes Vikings in Super League". The Guardian. London. 10 May 2011. 

External links

  • Denis Betts Wigan Playing Career Page on the Wigan RL Fansite.
  • Denis Betts Wigan Coaching Career Page on the Wigan RL Fansite.
  • When Britain defeated the Aussies
Preceded by
Mike Gregory

Succeeded by
Ian Millward
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