|Current season or competition:|
|Number of teams||2|
|Broadcast partner|| Sky Sports |
|Related competition|| World Club Series |
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 is a full-contact sport played by two teams of thirteen players on a rectangular field measuring 68m wide and 112-122m long. 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 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.
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 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.
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.
The Sydney Roosters is an Australian professional rugby league football club. They are 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. The Roosters have 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. 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.
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".
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.
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. 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.
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 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).
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 didn't 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.
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.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 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.
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, February 10.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.
(a) – defunct club (b) – Currently relegated from Super League
|World Club Challenge Participants|
|Colors||Club||Established||City||League||Last WCC||# of Titles||Last WCC title|
|Bradford Bulls (b)||1907||Bradford, West Yorkshire||2006||3||2006|
|Brisbane Broncos||1987||Brisbane, Queensland||2007||2||1997|
|Canberra Raiders||1981||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory||1989||0|
|Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||1934||Sydney, New South Wales||2005||0|
|Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks||1967||Sydney, New South Wales||2017||0|
|Hunter Mariners (a)||1995||Newcastle, New South Wales||1997||0|
|Leeds Rhinos||1870||Leeds, West Yorkshire||2018||3||2012|
|Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||1946||Sydney, New South Wales||2012||1||2009|
|Melbourne Storm||1997||Melbourne, Victoria||2018||3||2018|
|Newcastle Knights||1988||Newcastle, New South Wales||2002||0|
|North Queensland Cowboys||1993||Townsville, Queensland||2016||1||2016|
|Penrith Panthers||1967||Penrith, New South Wales||2004||0|
|South Sydney Rabbitohs||1908||Sydney, New South Wales||2015||1||2015|
|St George Illawarra Dragons||1998||Sydney and Wollongong, New South Wales||2011||1||2011|
|St. Helens||1873||St. Helens, Merseyside||2015||2||2007|
|Sydney Roosters||1908||Sydney, New South Wales||2019||4||2019|
|Wests Tigers||1999||Sydney, New South Wales||2006||0|
|Widnes Vikings (b)||1875||Widnes, Cheshire||1989||1||1989|
|Wigan Warriors||1872||Wigan, Greater Manchester||2017||4||2017|
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)
1 Melbourne stripped of title due to salary cap breaches
|Club||Wins||Last win||Runners-up||Last final lost||Total finals|
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 this is the Sydney Roosters in 2019.
To date the teams that have held the three titles at once are as follows:
|1975/76||1975 NSWRFL Grand Final, 1975 Minor Premiership, 1976 World Club Challenge|
|1992||1992 NSWRL Grand Final, 1992 Minor Premiership, 1992 World Club Challenge (b)|
|1997||1997 Super League (Australia) Grand Final, 1997 Super League Minor Premiership, 1997 World Club Championship Final (a)|
|2001/02||2001 Super League Grand Final, 2001 League Leaders Shield, 2002 World Club Challenge|
|2003/04||2003 Super League Grand Final, 2003 League Leaders Shield, 2004 World Club Challenge|
|2004/05||2004 Super League Grand Final, 2004 League Leaders Shield, 2005 World Club Challenge|
|2006/07||2006 Super League Grand Final, 2006 League Leaders Shield, 2007 World Club Challenge|
|2010/11||2010 NRL Grand Final, 2010 Minor Premiership, 2011 World Club Challenge|
|2013/14||2013 NRL Grand Final, 2013 Minor Premiership, 2014 World Club Challenge|
|2017/18||2017 NRL Grand Final, 2017 Minor Premiership, 2018 World Club Challenge|
|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||Elland Road||2005, 2008, 2009, 2010|
|2||DW Stadium||2000, 2011, 2017, 2019|
|3||Macron Stadium||2001, 2003, 2007|
|4||John Smiths Stadium||2002, 2004, 2006|
|5||Headingley Carnegie Stadium||2012, 2013, 2016|
|6||Central Park||1987, 1992|
|7||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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