|Current season or competition:|
2021 World Club Challenge
|Number of teams||2|
|Nations|| England |
|Holders||Sydney Roosters (5th title) (2020)|
|Most titles||Sydney Roosters (5 titles)|
|Broadcast partner|| Sky Sports |
|Related competition|| Super League |
World Club Series
The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league competition between the winners of the Australian NRL and the English Super League. The first such match was played in 1976 but did not become a regular fixture until the late 1980s. It was also punctuated in the 1990s by the Super League war but has been held every year since 2000. The Sydney Roosters are the current champions, defeating St Helens 20-12 in 2020.
Between 2015 and 2017, the World Club Challenge became the championship match for the 3 game, World Club Series. Two further exhibition matches were played prior to the main game.
As the World Club Challenge is a match between the premiers of the NRL and the Super League Champions, it has been possible for teams from New Zealand, France and Wales to win it as well as England and Australia, however, to date only English and Australian sides have competed in and won the World Club Challenge.
The competition began unofficially in 1976 as a match between Sydney's Eastern Suburbs and Premiership winners St. Helens. In 1987, another unofficial match took place when Wigan chairman Maurice Lindsay invited Manly-Warringah to Central Park.
The first official World Club Challenge was between Widnes and Canberra in 1989. Three further matches, each involving Wigan, were staged in the early 1990s with the 1994 match being staged in Australia. This would be the last time for 20 years that this would happen.
The Sydney Morning Herald , September 1992
After the 1994 match logistical issues meant the concept was put on hiatus until it was revived in 1997.
With the outbreak of Australia's Super League War in 1995, the World Club Challenge was not staged again until 1997 when the competition was restructured to include the twenty-two clubs from the Australasian Super League and the European Super League. The twelve Australian Rugby League affiliated clubs did not take part. With six rounds in two hemispheres and $1,000,000 prize money, the competition was prohibitively expensive to stage and reportedly lost over $5,000,000. This, coupled with the poor ratings and attendances both in Australia and Europe, led to the competition being postponed for two seasons.
Returning to a one-off match between the League champions in 1998, a World Club Challenge as a show-piece fixture at Ellis Park in Johannesburg was mooted.However this did not eventuate.
When it was resurrected in 2000, the World Club Challenge was once more played between the winners of the premierships in Australasia and Europe. During this period it was contested annually in the United Kingdom in late January or early February, before the commencement National Rugby League season and the Super League season. Over this period Super League teams dominated the tournament winning 7 of 9 matches, and this led one Australian commentator to deride the competition, citing the British refusal to play the game outside of the UK, the effects of jet lag on an Australian team who arrived in England only a couple of days before the game, and wintry conditions as reasons for Australian team's poor performance. In addition, the games were being played at the beginning of the new season instead of at the end of the previous season, so the rosters of both sides had normally changed considerably, therefore the teams that took the field were not the ones that won the respective premierships. For these reasons, it was viewed as merely a pre-season warm up game by most Australasian teams and fans.
Since the 2009 tournament, its popularity has increased with stronger crowds and also with Australian teams taking the concept more seriously, Australian teams were arriving earlier to acclimatize the players and often organising warm up games with other super league sides and this created a much stronger showing and improved results. This also led to an increased movement to having the tournament staged in Australia. During this period, the matches were fixtured in late February, still before the commencement of the National Rugby League season but in the early stages of the new Super League season.[ citation needed ]
In mid-2012, a working party was established to look into the feasibility of conducting the match in either a neutral or Australian venue and also looking into the possibility of expanding the tournament. [ citation needed ]In February 2013, the changes to the tournament were gaining momentum with the NRL and Super League agreeing to begin alternating the World Club Challenge tournament between the UK and Australia. These changes were finally confirmed in November 2013, with both parties agreeing that the 2014 World Club Challenge would be the first held in Australia since 1994. In addition, commencing in 2015, the tournament would also be expanded to six teams. The World Club Challenge return to Australia in 2014 was a success with a solid crowd numbers of over 31,000, with the Sydney Roosters defeating the Wigan Warriors 36–14. During the game, Sydney's Michael Jennings became the first player to score a hat trick of tries in a World Club Challenge.
In September 2014 it was announced that the World Club Challenge name would be changed to the World Club Series with six clubs participating – 3 from each league.It took place between 20–22 February 2015, and featured three matches, the first and second essentially being two exhibition games and the final game being for the Championship trophy between the two respective premiers as in previous years.
In October 2017 it was suggested that the 2018 Series could be scrapped completely based on the top Australian teams reluctance to travel to the UK for the 2017 series which resulted in the Series being scaled back to two games only. In particular the second game of the 2017 series only featured an invited team from the NRL.In addition, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup being played in Australia at the end of 2017, meant that the preseasons for Australian teams was going to be unusually short ahead of the 2018 season and therefore did not want to make the trip to England for the 2018 series. The Melbourne Storm (2017 NRL Premiers) in particular, were reluctant to travel meaning the series was in danger of cancellation for the first time since the 1990s as it is the Storm that was playing in the World Club Challenge.
In June 2017, the Super League announced that the Australian city of Wollongong would host the first ever Super League game outside Europe. Wigan Warriors will "host" Hull F.C. in the game at WIN Stadium on Saturday, 10 February.In addition and as part of this trip to Australia, Wigan and Hull would also play two exhibition games against South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons respectively. These were separately arranged fixtures and not considered part of the World Club Series.
On 14 November 2017, it was confirmed that Leeds Rhinos would travel to Australia to play Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne on 16 February 2018, and that the World Club Challenge would return to a one-game format for the first time since 2014.The Storm defeated Leeds 38–4 to become World Club Champions for 2018 and also became the first club to hold the NRL Minor Premiership, NRL Premiership and World Club Challenege at the same time since the Sydney Roosters in 2014.
On 22 February 2020, the Sydney Roosters became the first team to win back to back World Club Challenges, defeating St Helens 20–12 in the process. They also overtook Wigan in most challenges won with five.
On 20th November 2020 it was announced that the 2021 World Club challenge, which was to be played between Melbourne Storm and St Helens would be postponed until late in 2021 owing to the push back of seasons due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing pandemic itself preventing overseas travel.
18 teams have competed in the World Club Challenge with 12 teams being successful and being crowned world champions. Sydney Roosters have currently won more finals than any other team with 5. (Roosters first title was prior to the club’s name change from Eastern Suburbs)
|1976||Eastern Suburbs||25 – 2||St Helens||Sydney Cricket Ground||26,865|
|1987||Wigan||8 – 2||Manly Warringah||Central Park||36,895|
|1989||Widnes||30 – 18||Canberra||Old Trafford||30,786|
|1991||Wigan (2)||21 – 4||Penrith||Anfield||20,152|
|1992||Brisbane||22 – 8||Wigan||Central Park||17,764|
|1994||Wigan (3)||20 – 14||Brisbane||QEII Stadium||54,220|
|1997||Brisbane (2)||36 – 12||Hunter Mariners||Mt Smart Stadium||10,300|
|2000||Melbourne||44 – 6||St Helens||DW Stadium||13,394|
|2001||St Helens||20 – 18||Brisbane||Reebok Stadium||16,041|
|2002||Bradford||41 – 26||Newcastle Knights||Kirklees Stadium||21,113|
|2003||Sydney Roosters (2)||38 – 0||St Helens||Reebok Stadium||19,807|
|2004||Bradford (2)||22 – 4||Penrith||Kirklees Stadium||18,962|
|2005||Leeds||39 – 32||Canterbury-Bankstown||Elland Road||37,028|
|2006||Bradford (3)||30 – 10||Wests Tigers||Kirklees Stadium||19,207|
|2007||St Helens (2)||18 – 14||Brisbane||Reebok Stadium||23,207|
|2008||Leeds (2)||11 – 4||Melbourne||Elland Road||33,204|
|2009||Manly Warringah||28 – 20||Leeds||Elland Road||32,569|
|2010||Melbourne||18 – 10||Leeds||Elland Road||27,697|
|2011||St. George Illawarra||21 – 15||Wigan||DW Stadium||24,268|
|2012||Leeds (3)||26 – 12||Manly Warringah||Headingley Stadium||21,062|
|2013||Melbourne (2)||18 – 14||Leeds||Headingley Stadium||20,400|
|2014||Sydney Roosters (3)||36 – 14||Wigan||Sydney Football Stadium||31,515|
|2015||South Sydney||39 – 0||St Helens||Langtree Park||17,980|
|2016||North Queensland||38 – 4||Leeds||Headingley Stadium||19,778|
|2017||Wigan (4)||22 – 6||Cronulla-Sutherland||DW Stadium||21,011|
|2018||Melbourne (3)||38 – 4||Leeds||Melbourne Rectangular Stadium||19,062|
|2019||Sydney Roosters (4)||20 – 8||Wigan||DW Stadium||21,331|
|2020||Sydney Roosters (5)||20 – 12||St Helens||Totally Wicked Stadium||16,108|
1 Melbourne stripped of title due to salary cap breaches
|Team||Winners||Runners-up||Years won||Years runner-up|
|Sydney Roosters||5||0||1976, 2003, 2014, 2019, 2020|
|Wigan Warriors||4||4||1987, 1991, 1994, 2017||1992, 2011, 2014, 2019|
|Leeds Rhinos||3||5||2005, 2008, 2012||2009, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018|
|Melbourne Storm||3||1||2000, ||2008|
|Bradford Bulls||3||0||2002, 2004, 2006||–|
|St Helens||2||5||2001, 2007||1976, 2000, 2003, 2015, 2020|
|Brisbane Broncos||2||3||1992, 1997||1994, 2001, 2007|
|Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||1||2||2009||1987, 2012|
|St. George Illawarra Dragons||1||0||2011||–|
|South Sydney Rabbitohs||1||0||2015|
|North Queensland Cowboys||1||0||2016||–|
|Penrith Panthers||0||2||–||1991, 2004|
|National Rugby League / NSWRL / Super League||14||1976, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2014, |
2015, 2016, 2018, 2019, 2020
|Super League / First Division||13||1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, |
2008, 2012, 2017
The Treble, in Australian rugby league, involves winning the World Club Challenge, Grand Final, and Minor Premiership with in the same season.
NB: In British rugby league, "the treble" refers to winning the Super League Grand Final, League Leaders Shield, and Challenge Cup, however British teams are still listed here who qualify by the Australian definition.
To date the teams that have held the three titles at once are as follows:
|Eastern Suburbs Roosters||1975/76||1975 NSWRFL Grand Final, 1975 Minor Premiership, 1976 World Club Challenge|
|Brisbane Broncos||1992||1992 NSWRL Grand Final, 1992 Minor Premiership, 1992 World Club Challenge (b)|
|Brisbane Broncos||1997||1997 Super League (Australia) Grand Final, 1997 Super League Minor Premiership, 1997 World Club Championship Final (a)|
|Bradford Bulls||2001/02||2001 Super League Grand Final, 2001 League Leaders Shield, 2002 World Club Challenge|
|Bradford Bulls||2003/04||2003 Super League Grand Final, 2003 League Leaders Shield, 2004 World Club Challenge|
|Leeds Rhinos||2004/05||2004 Super League Grand Final, 2004 League Leaders Shield, 2005 World Club Challenge|
|St Helens||2006/07||2006 Super League Grand Final, 2006 League Leaders Shield, 2007 World Club Challenge|
|St. George Illawarra Dragons||2010/11||2010 NRL Grand Final, 2010 Minor Premiership, 2011 World Club Challenge|
|Sydney Roosters||2013/14||2013 NRL Grand Final, 2013 Minor Premiership, 2014 World Club Challenge|
|Melbourne Storm||2017/18||2017 NRL Grand Final, 2017 Minor Premiership, 2018 World Club Challenge|
|Sydney Roosters||2018/19||2018 NRL Grand Final, 2018 Minor Premiership, 2019 World Club Challenge|
(a) The 1997 World Club Challenge was a tournament that occurred concurrently with the respective RL seasons, not after them.
(b) In 1992 the World Club Challenge was played at the conclusion of the respective seasons.
NOTE: no English teams feature prior to 1997 as there was no Grand Final played in England at this time.
|1||Leeds||Elland Road||2005, 2008, 2009, 2010|
|2||Wigan||DW Stadium||2000, 2011, 2017, 2019|
|3||Horwich||Macron Stadium||2001, 2003, 2007|
|4||Huddersfield||John Smiths Stadium||2002, 2004, 2006|
|5||Leeds||Headingley Carnegie Stadium||2012, 2013, 2016|
|6||Wigan||Central Park||1987, 1992|
|7||St. Helens||Langtree Park||2015, 2020|
|8||Sydney||Sydney Cricket Ground||1976|
The World Club Challenge has been sponsored sporadically since its formation with 9 different sponsors.
|1987–1991||Foster's||Foster's World Club Challenge|
|1992–1993||None||World Club Challenge|
|1994–1996||MMI||MMI World Club Challenge|
|1997–2004||None||World Club Challenge|
|2005–2009||Carnegie||Carnegie World Club Challenge|
|2010||Gillette||Gillette World Club Challenge|
|2011||Probiz||Probiz World Club Challenge|
|2012||Heinz Big Soup||Heinz Big Soup World Club Challenge|
|2013||Probiz||Probiz World Club Challenge|
|2014–2015||None||World Club Challenge|
|2016–2017||Dacia||Dacia World Club Challenge|
|2018||Downer||Downer World Club Challenge|
|2019||Betfred||Betfred World Club Challenge|
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