World Club Challenge

Last updated
World Club Challenge
Current season or competition:
Rugby football current event.svg 2019 World Club Series
World Club Challenge logo.png
Sport Rugby league
Instituted1976
Inaugural season 1976
Number of teams2
CountriesFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Flag of England.svg  England
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand
Flag of France.svg  France
Champions Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (2019)
Most titles Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors (4 titles)
Broadcast partner Sky Sports Flag of the United Kingdom.svg Flag of Ireland.svg
Nine Network Flag of Australia (converted).svg
Sky Sport Flag of New Zealand.svg
Related competition World Club Series
Super League
NRL

The World Club Challenge is an annual rugby league competition between the winners of the Australian NRL and the 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 City Roosters are the current champions, having defeated the Wigan Warriors 8– 20 in Wigan.

Rugby league team sport, code of rugby football

Rugby league football is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field. One of the two codes of rugby, it originated in Northern England in 1895 as a split from the Rugby Football Union over the issue of payments to players. Its rules progressively changed with the aim of producing a faster, more entertaining game for spectators.

Super League professional rugby league

Super League is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in the Northern hemisphere. The league has twelve teams: eleven from England and one from France.

The 1976 World Club Challenge was an unofficial trial of what would later become the World Club Challenge concept, with the 1975 NSWRFL season's premiers, Eastern Suburbs hosting the 1975–76 Northern Rugby Football League season's Premiership and Challenge Cup winners St. Helens. The one-off challenge match was played on the 29th of June, right in the middle of the 1976 NSWRFL season, at the Sydney Cricket Ground before a crowd of 26,856.

Contents

Between 2015 and 2017, the World Club Challenge was the championship match for the World Club Series which began at the beginning of 2015. The World Club Series includes two other games, these games are exhibition matches before the main game, the World Club Challenge. 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 Dacia World Club Series is an annual rugby league football competition played between the clubs from the NRL and the Super League. The competition culminates with the World Club Challenge, a single match played between the reigning champions of each league.

History

1976–1999: Origin and development

The competition began so 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. [1]

Sydney Roosters rugby league football club

The Sydney Roosters is an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney. The club competes in the National Rugby League (NRL) competition and is one of the oldest and most successful clubs in Australian rugby league history, having won fourteen New South Wales Rugby League (NSWRL) and National Rugby League titles, and several other competitions. Only the South Sydney Rabbitohs and the St George Dragons have won more premierships. The club holds the record for having the most wins and the second greatest margin of victory in a match in Australian rugby league history, and has won more minor premierships than any other club. The Roosters is one of only two clubs to finish runners-up in its inaugural season. The Eastern Suburbs DRLFC is the only club to have played in each and every season at the elite level, and since the 1970s has often been dubbed the "glamour club" of the league. Coached by Trent Robinson along with captains Boyd Cordner and Jake Friend, the Roosters play their home games at the Sydney Cricket Ground.

The Rugby League Premiership was a competition for British rugby league clubs that operated between 1973 and 1995. As the Super League Premiership the competition continued to operate until 1997.

St Helens R.F.C. rugby league club

St Helens R.F.C. is a professional rugby league club in St Helens, Merseyside who compete in the Super League, the top tier of competition for rugby league in Europe.

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.

Widnes Vikings Rugby League team based in Widnes

The Widnes Vikings are an English professional rugby league club based in Widnes, Cheshire that plays in the Betfred Championship. The club plays its home matches at the Halton Stadium. Founded as Widnes Football Club, they are one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895, making them one of the world's first rugby league teams. Their historic nickname is "The Chemics" after the main industry in Widnes, but now they use their modern nickname, "The Vikings".

Canberra Raiders rugby league football club

The Canberra Raiders are an Australian professional rugby league football club based in the national capital city of Canberra, Australian Capital Territory. They have competed in Australasia's elite rugby league competition, the National Rugby League (NRL) premiership since 1982. Over this period the club has won 3 premierships,, received 1 wooden spoon and had a total of 15 of its players selected to don the green and gold for Australia national rugby league team. The Raiders' current home ground is Canberra Stadium in Bruce, Australian Capital Territory. Previously, the team played home matches at Seiffert Oval in Queanbeyan, New South Wales, with the move to the AIS Stadium in Bruce taking place in 1990. The official symbol for the Canberra Raiders is the Viking. The Viking, also a mascot at Raiders' games, is known as Victor the Viking.

If only we could see a genuine contest between Wigan and Brisbane – a World Club final. Alas, it will never happen. Oh sure, a game might be arranged, but logistics dictate that one side would be out of season, rusty or tired, and away from home.

The Sydney Morning Herald , September 1992 [2]

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 twenty-two clubs from the Australasian Super League and Super League. 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.

1997 World Club Championship

The 1997 World Club Championship was an expansion of the World Club Challenge concept by Super League. The competition was restructured to include all 22 clubs from the Australasian Super League and the Super League championships and was known as the Visa World Club Championship due to sponsorship. As it was contested over 6 rounds in 2 hemispheres, with A$1,000,000 prize money, the competition was prohibitively expensive to stage. This coupled with the poor ratings and attendances that were achieved both in Australia and Europe reportedly resulted in a loss over $5,000,000, and the World Club Challenge was not staged again for a number of years. No British teams progressed further than the quarter finals, with two Australian teams reaching the final : the dominant Brisbane Broncos club and the ill-fated Hunter Mariners.

Super League (Australia)

Super League was an Australian rugby league football administrative body that conducted professional competition in Australia and New Zealand for one season in 1997. Along with Super League of Europe, it was created by News Corporation during the Super League war which arose following an unsuccessful attempt to purchase the pay television rights to rugby league in Australia. After two years of legal battles the competition was played for a single season in 1997 alongside the rival Australian Rugby League (ARL) competition before the two merged in 1998 to form the National Rugby League (NRL).

1997 tournament trophy World Club Challenge.JPG
1997 tournament trophy

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. [3] However this didn't eventuate.

2000–2014: Regular competition

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. [4] [5]

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.

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. [6] 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. [7] In addition, commencing in 2015, the tournament would also be expanded to six teams. [8] 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.

2015–2017: World Club Series

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. [9] It took place between February 20–22, 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. [10]

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. [11] 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, February 10. [12] 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. [13] [14]

2018: World Club Challenge return

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. [13] 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. [15]

Statistics

Participants

(a) – defunct club (b) – Currently relegated from Super League

World Club Challenge Participants
ColorsClubEstablishedCityLeagueLast WCC# of TitlesLast WCC title
Bullscolours.svg
Bradford Bulls (b)1907 Bradford, West Yorkshire Flag of England.svg Super League 2006;13 years ago32006;13 years ago
Brisbane colours.svg
Brisbane Broncos 1987 Brisbane, Queensland Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2007;12 years ago21997;22 years ago
Canberra colours.svg
Canberra Raiders 1981 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 1989;30 years ago0
Canterbury colours.svg
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 1934 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2005;14 years ago0
Cronulla colours.svg
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 1967 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2017;2 years ago0
Hunter colours.svg
Hunter Mariners (a)1995 Newcastle, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 1997;22 years ago0
Rhinoscolours.svg
Leeds Rhinos 1870 Leeds, West Yorkshire Flag of England.svg Super League 2018;1 year ago32012;7 years ago
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 1946 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2012;7 years ago12009;10 years ago
Melbourne colours.svg
Melbourne Storm 1997 Melbourne, Victoria Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2018;1 year ago32018;1 year ago
Newcastle colours.svg
Newcastle Knights 1988 Newcastle, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2002;17 years ago0
North Queensland colours.svg
North Queensland Cowboys 1993 Townsville, Queensland Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2016;3 years ago12016;3 years ago
Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg
Penrith Panthers 1967 Penrith, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2004;15 years ago0
South Sydney colours.svg
South Sydney Rabbitohs 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2015;4 years ago12015;4 years ago
St. George Illawarra colours.svg
St George Illawarra Dragons 1998 Sydney and Wollongong, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2011;8 years ago12011;8 years ago
Saintscolours.svg
St. Helens 1873 St. Helens, Merseyside Flag of England.svg Super League 2015;4 years ago22007;12 years ago
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg
Sydney Roosters 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2019;0 years ago42019;0 years ago
Wests Tigers colours.svg
Wests Tigers 1999 Sydney, New South Wales Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 2006;13 years ago0
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes Vikings (b)1875 Widnes, Cheshire Flag of England.svg Super League 1989;30 years ago11989;30 years ago
Wigancolours.svg
Wigan Warriors 1872 Wigan, Greater Manchester Flag of England.svg Super League 2017;2 years ago42017;2 years ago

List of Finals

18 teams have competed in the World Club Challenge with 12 teams being successful and being crowned world champions. Sydney Roosters & Wigan have currently won more finals than any other team with 4 titles each. (Roosters first title was prior to the club’s name change from Eastern Suburbs)

YearWinnersScoreRunner-up
1976 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 25–2 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1987 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 8–2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly
1989 Widnes colours.svg Widnes 30–18 Canberra colours.svg Canberra
1991 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 21–4 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith
1992 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 22–8 Wigancolours.svg Wigan
1994 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 20–14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane
1997 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 36–12 Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners
2000 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 44–6 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2001 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 20–18 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane
2002 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 41–26 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle
2003 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 38–0 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2004 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 22–4 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith
2005 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 39–32 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury
2006 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 30–10 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests
2007 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 18–14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane
2008 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 11–4 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne
2009 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly 28–20 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds
2010 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 118–10 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds
2011 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra 21–15 Wigancolours.svg Wigan
2012 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 26–12 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly
2013 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 18–14 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds
2014 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 36–14 Wigancolours.svg Wigan
2015 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 39–0 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2016 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 38–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds
2017 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 22–6 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla
2018 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne 38–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds
2019 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 20-8 Wigancolours.svg Wigan

1 Melbourne stripped of title due to salary cap breaches

Most successful clubs

ClubWinsLast winRunners-upLast final lostTotal finals
1 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 42017420198
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 420190N/A4
3 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 32012520188
3 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 3*2018120085
5 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 320060N/A3
6 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 22007420156
7 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 21997320075
8 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12009220123
9 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 119890N/A1
10 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 120150N/A1
11 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 120110N/A1
12 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 120160N/A1
13 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers 0N/A220042
14 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0N/A120171
15 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 0N/A120061
16 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs 0N/A120051
17 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 0N/A120021
18 Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners 0N/A119971
19 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 0N/A119891

Wins by Competition

CompetitionWins
1 Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 14*
2 Flag of England.svg Super League 13

The Treble

The Treble is when one team holds three titles (World Club Challenge, Grand Final Winner and Minor Premiership/League Leader) at the same time. The most recent team to do ths is Melbourne Storm in 2018. [16]

To date the teams that have held the three titles at once are as follows:

ClubYearsTitles
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs Roosters 1975/76 1975 NSWRFL Grand Final, 1975 Minor Premiership, 1976 World Club Challenge
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 1992 1992 NSWRL Grand Final, 1992 Minor Premiership, 1992 World Club Challenge (b)
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 1997 1997 Super League (Australia) Grand Final, 1997 Super League Minor Premiership, 1997 World Club Championship Final (a)
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 2001/02 2001 Super League Grand Final, 2001 League Leaders Shield, 2002 World Club Challenge
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 2003/04 2003 Super League Grand Final, 2003 League Leaders Shield, 2004 World Club Challenge
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 2004/05 2004 Super League Grand Final, 2004 League Leaders Shield, 2005 World Club Challenge
Saintscolours.svg St Helens 2006/07 2006 Super League Grand Final, 2006 League Leaders Shield, 2007 World Club Challenge
St. George Illawarra colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 2010/11 2010 NRL Grand Final, 2010 Minor Premiership, 2011 World Club Challenge
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 2013/14 2013 NRL Grand Final, 2013 Minor Premiership, 2014 World Club Challenge
Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 2017/18 2017 NRL Grand Final, 2017 Minor Premiership, 2018 World Club Challenge
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg 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.

Venues

CityStadiumYears
1 Flag of England.svg Leeds Elland Road 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010
2 Flag of England.svg Wigan DW Stadium 2000, 2011, 2017, 2019
3 Flag of England.svg Horwich Macron Stadium 2001, 2003, 2007
4 Flag of England.svg Huddersfield John Smiths Stadium 2002, 2004, 2006
5 Flag of England.svg Leeds Headingley Carnegie Stadium 2012, 2013, 2016
6 Flag of England.svg Wigan Central Park 1987, 1992
7 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sydney Sydney Cricket Ground 1976
8 Flag of England.svg Manchester Old Trafford 1989
9 Flag of England.svg Liverpool Anfield 1991
10 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Brisbane ANZ Stadium 1994
11 Flag of New Zealand.svg Auckland Ericsson Stadium 1997
12 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Sydney Allianz Stadium 2014
13 Flag of England.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 2015
14 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Melbourne AAMI Park 2018

Attendance

Highest

YearCityStadiumAttendance
1994 Brisbane ANZ Stadium 54,220

Lowest

YearCityStadiumAttendance
1997 Auckland Ericsson Stadium 12,000

Records

Sponsors

The World Club Challenge has been sponsored sporadically since its formation with 9 different sponsors.

PeriodSponsorName
1987–1991 Foster's Foster's World Club Challenge
1992–1993NoneWorld Club Challenge
1994–1996 MMI MMI World Club Challenge
1997–2004NoneWorld Club Challenge
2005–2009 Carnegie Carnegie World Club Challenge
2010 Gillette Gillette World Club Challenge
2011ProbizProbiz World Club Challenge
2012 Heinz Big Soup Heinz Big Soup World Club Challenge
2013ProbizProbiz World Club Challenge
2014–2015NoneWorld 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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References

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