Written by Callum Walker
Andy Lynch began and ended his career with hometown club Castleford Tigers, debuting in 1999 aged 19. Over a period of six years, prop forward Lynch played 137 games for the Tigers, scoring 15 tries. Many followers of Rugby League state that props do not mature until their late 20s, yet Lynch was already a formidable and exciting forward as a vicenarian, regularly mixing it with the hardest men in Super League.
2003 was a particularly good year for Lynch, earning a spot in the Super League Dream Team for the first and only time whilst also scooping up Castleford’s Player of the Year at the age of 23. Following Castleford’s relegation from the top flight in 2004, Lynch moved to pastures new – Bradford.
Although the forward had been a regular in the Bulls side, he was not selected in Bradford’s successful 2005 Grand Final, though he did win a winners’ medal a year later in the World Club Challenge.
In seven seasons, Lynch registered 204 appearances for the Bulls, scoring 46 tries, becoming an influential figure in the late 2000s as Bradford struggled to hit the heights of barely a decade before.
September 2011 saw Lynch swap West Yorkshire for the black-and-white part of Humberside for a reported six figure sum. In recognition of his leadership and experience – Lynch was now 33 – the forward was given the captaincy for the 2012 season.
Though he helped guide the Airlie Birds to a Challenge Cup Final in 2013, Hull were denied a first win at Wembley by Wigan. FC even had the ignominy of failing to score a point as the Warriors triumphed 16-0.
Lynch left Hull at the end of the 2013 season to where it all began: Castleford. Aged 34, it was perhaps a surprise that head coach Daryl Powell – who had been in the job for less than a year – brought him back to Wheldon Road. But, it was a move that both Lynch and Castleford benefited from.
His experience was vital as the Tigers reached Wembley in 2014 for the first time since 1992. Like a fine wine, Lynch got better with age; 2014, 2015 and 2016 saw the 6 ft 2, 16 stone forward produce some of the best rugby of his career as well as earn two one-year deals in 2015 and 2016.
And, it wasn’t until he was 37 years old – a feat which made him the oldest player in the top flight – that Lynch finally decided to hang up his boots at the end of a league-winning 2017 season.
In four seasons back at Castleford, Lynch played 95 times, scoring twice to bring him up to second in the list of all-time Super League appearances with 452 – just two shy of Kevin Sinfield’s record.
It was an incredible achievement and such a shame that Lynch’s career ended with him failing to be selected in Castleford’s 2017 Grand Final loss to Leeds. It was a cruel twist of fate for the forward having also been left out of Bradford’s Grand Final-winning squad in 2005.
The forward also did his bit for charity whilst in the UK (he is now living in Australia). He ran the London Marathon in 2018 with a group of friends for the charity Phab kids.
It is the first time he attempted such a distance but Lynch didn’t stop there, riding 300 miles in the UK Red Ride to Wembley from Old Trafford in the 2018 Challenge Cup Final week for Rugby League Cares.
A real workhorse and tremendous communicator on the field, but also a superb role model and classic professional off it, Lynch earned call-ups to both England and Great Britain.
After playing seven games and scoring two tries for England ‘A’, Lynch was given the nod for the first-team, appearing five times between 2004 and 2005 and once for Great Britain in 2007. He would likely have earned more caps for England if he had not have been forced to withdraw from the training squad for the 2008 World Cup.