By Richard Sykes

John F Greenwood, a towering figure in Northern rugby union and Huddersfield’s most capped county player, has died aged 82.

Born on April 19 1940 into one of Huddersfield’s eminent textile families, Greenwood began playing rugby at Ashville College in Harrogate. In 1958, at the age of 18, he made the first of his 532 First XV appearances for Huddersfield RUFC.

It was an away fixture at Bedford and Huddersfield’s young loose head prop was up against the vastly experienced St L H (Larry) Webb. Webb went on to win four caps for England the following year.

Greenwood relished his baptism of fire and in his first team career which spanned four decades – finally ending in 1985 – he earned universal admiration for his strength, athleticism and skill as a player.

He served two spells as captain at Huddersfield RUFC, firstly from 1965 to 1967 and then again in the 1972/73 season. At the end of his first team career Greenwood continued to indulge his passion for the game, playing in all of HRUFC’s junior teams before finally hanging up his boots. He was also a founder member of Luddites representative team in 1974, which he played for and captained.  

Greenwood’s county rugby career was equally as impressive as his club one. He was capped 37 times for Yorkshire between 1965 and 1974 in an age when county matches were much more significant than they are today.

International players took part and Greenwood locked horns with many of them, including England captain and British and Irish Lion Fran Cotton.

The two were opposing props and captains in the ‘Roses’ matches. At the end of his Yorkshire playing career Greenwood continued to serve the county as area representative on the committee, from 1974 to 1979, and thereafter as a team selector.

In 1991/92 Greenwood was elected president of Huddersfield RUFC and he was made a honorary life member of the club in 2017.

In his working life Greenwood was a director in the family textile firm, Walter Greenwood and Co of Holmfirth. He was a true gentleman on and of the rugby field and a dedicated family man. He leaves a wife, Anne, children Angus and April and four grandchildren. He died on July 9 2022.