World Club Series

Last updated

World Club Series
Sport Rugby league
Instituted 2015
Number of teams12
CountryFlag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia
Flag of England.svg  England (RFL [1] )
Series winners Flag of England.svg Super League (1st title)
Most titles Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL (2 titles)
Broadcast partner Nine Network
Sky Sports
BBC Sport
Related competitions World Club Challenge
Super League
National Rugby League

The World Club Series was an annual rugby league football competition played between clubs from the NRL (Australia and New Zealand) and the Super League (England and France). The competition culminated with the World Club Challenge, a single match played between the reigning champions of each league.


The World Club Challenge was first contested in 1976 and was expanded to include two invited teams from each league playing a short Series in 2015. The Series was reduced to one invited team from each league in 2017, and suspended (only the usual Challenge was played) in 2018.



The World Club Series was created as an expansion to the World Club Challenge competition which has been played sporadically since it began unofficially in 1976. Games were played on a somewhat ad-hoc basis throughout the 1980s and 1990s before returning to a one-off match between the League champions in 1998.

Between 1998 and 2014 the World Club Challenge was played as an annual fixture at the beginning of each Rugby League season.

2014: Creation

In September 2014 it was announced that the World Club Challenge would be expanded, with four extra clubs participating in the World Club Series. [2] The first edition took place between 20 and 22 February 2015 and featured three matches, the first and second essentially being two exhibition games and the final game being for the World Club Challenge match between the two respective premiers as in previous years. [3] The first World Club Series was won outright by the Australians with St. George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos narrowly beating Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors in the first two games to win the series and South Sydney beating St Helens 39-0 in the World Club Challenge, which was the biggest winning margin in the history of the competition.

2015-2016: Possible Further Expansion

In 2016 a possible expansion to 8 teams was suggested. This would see two games being played in Australia and two games being played in the UK. The World Club Challenge would be played alternatively between the UK and Australia each year and a new points system would be introduced to determine the series winners: one point would be awarded to the winners of the first four games and two points to the winners of the World Club Challenge.

This expansion ultimately did not eventuate and it remained a six team format in 2015 and 2016.

2017: Contraction

In 2017, the format was reduced to 4 teams, with the NRL citing tight schedules, distant travel and long seasons as an impediment to their participation in the Series. After the NRL negotiated with the Brisbane Broncos, it was decided that they would represent the NRL in an exhibition match vs Warrington Wolves prior to the usual Challenge game between the Super League Champions Wigan Warriors and Cronulla Sutherland Sharks, maintaining the overall Series concept. 2017 would be Super League's first victory since the series began, with Warrington winning 27-18 against Brisbane, [4] and Wigan beating Cronulla 22-6. [5]

Following the reluctance of Australian teams to travel to England for the 2017 tournament there were similar issues with the 2018 tournament. This coupled with, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup being played in Australia at the end of 2017 meant that the preseason for Australian teams was going to be unusually short ahead of the 2018 season and therefore they 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 was the Storm that was playing in the World Club Challenge.

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. [6] [7]

2018: Return of the World Club Challenge

In November 2017, it was confirmed that the World Club Challenge would return to a one-game format for the first time since 2014 with Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos travelling to Australia to play NRL Champions Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne. On 16 February 2018, Melbourne Storm were victorious, outscoring Leeds Rhinos by 38 points to 4.

2019: World Club Challenge

It is not known if and or when an expanded World Club Series will return and the 2019 World Club Challenge will again be a one-game format with NRL Premiership-winners, Sydney Roosters travelling to the UK to play Super League Champions Wigan Warriors at Wigan's DW Stadium on Sunday 17 February 2019 (kick-off 7pm).


Qualification rules in the two league competitions mean that, in theory, teams from four different countries could compete in the competition. English and French teams compete in the Super League and so are eligible to win that competition and qualify for the series. In the NRL, teams from Australia and one team from New Zealand compete and so could win their league to qualify.

Super League

The two teams from Super League that qualify to play in the World Club Series are:

If a team wins both Grand Final and League Leaders' Shield then the Grand Final runners up will qualify.


Qualification for the NRL has varied since the World Club series was first instituted in 2015. While the NRL Premiers always play off for the World club Challenge each year, the teams representing the NRL in the other two games have altered from year to year. Normally, the Grand Final Winners, Runners up and Minor Premiers are given first option to play; however, history has shown that it is either invited teams that make up the numbers or teams that are "willing to travel" who take part.


yearWinnersScoreRunners upVenueAttendance
St. George Illawarra colours.svg St George Illawarra 18–12 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 13,080
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 14–12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan DW Stadium 20,842
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 39–0 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 12,576
2016 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 38–12 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 14,008
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 42–12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan DW Stadium 19,103
North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 38–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Headingley 19,778
2017 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 27–18 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Halliwell Jones Stadium 12,082
Wigancolours.svg Wigan 22–6 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sutherland DW Stadium 21,011

NOTE: No series in 2018, reverted to a single World Club Challenge match

Club statistics

TeamWinsYears wonRunners upYears runner-up
1 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 22015, 201612017
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1201712015, 2016
3 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1201712015
4 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 120160
5 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 120160
6 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 120150
7 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 120150
8 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 022015, 2016
9 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 012016
10 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 012017

Series wins

CountrySeries wonYears wonMatches won
1 Flag of Australia (converted).svg NRL 22015, 20166
2 Flag of England.svg Super League 120172


1 Flag of England.svg Wigan DW Stadium 2015, 2016, 2017
2 Flag of England.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 2015, 2016
3 Flag of England.svg Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 2015, 2017
4 Flag of England.svg Leeds Headingley Carnegie Stadium 2016



2017 Wigan DW Stadium 21,011


2017 Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 12,082


Most matches refereed

=12 Flag of England.svg Richard Silverwood 2015, 2016
=12 Flag of England.svg Ben Thaler 2015, 2016
=12 Flag of England.svg Phil Bentham 2015, 2017
=21 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matt Cecchin 2016
=21 Flag of England.svg Robert Hicks2017


2015none World Club Series
2016-2017 Automobile Dacia Dacia World Club Series


See also

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The 2014 World Club Challenge was the 15th consecutive annual World Club Challenge and was contested by Super League XVIII champions, Wigan Warriors and 2013 NRL Premiers, the Sydney Roosters. The 2014 World Club Challenge marked a return to Australia, 20 years after the last Australian based game. It was played on 22 February 2014 at Allianz Stadium in Sydney. The Roosters won the match 36–14.

World Club Challenge

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.

The 2015 World Club Series was the inaugural World Club Series and was contested by six clubs, including Super League XIX champions, St Helens R.F.C. and 2014 NRL Premiers, the South Sydney Rabbitohs. The 2015 series marked a departure from the previous format, whereby only the premiers from the two respective competitions would take part.

The 2016 Super League Grand Final was the 19th official Grand Final and conclusive and championship-deciding match of the Super League XXI season. It was held on Saturday 8 October 2016, at Old Trafford, Manchester, with a 6pm kick-off time. British rock band Feeder provided the pre-match and half-time entertainment. The Wigan Warriors were crowned champions, winning their fourth Super League crown, and prevented Warrington from winning their first championship in 61 years.

The 2017 World Club Series was the third staging of the World Club Series and featured two Super League teams and two National Rugby League (NRL) teams. The series included the World Club Challenge, a one-off match between the champions of the Super League and NRL.

2016 NRL Grand Final

The 2016 NRL Grand Final was a rugby league match between the Melbourne Storm and the Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks to determine the premiers of the National Rugby League for the 2016 season. The match was held at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Sunday 2 October. The Sharks won the match 14–12 in a tight contest before 83,625 spectators, earning the club its first premiership title in their 49-year history. They also became the last of nine Sydney-based teams to win a premiership. Cronulla forward Luke Lewis was awarded the Clive Churchill Medal as the best player on ground.

The 2017 NRL season was the 110th season of professional rugby league in Australia and the 20th season run by the National Rugby League. The season started in New Zealand with the annual Auckland Nines, and was followed by the All Stars Match, which was played at McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, and the World Club Series. It marked the last time that the Anzac Test and City vs. Country representative matches were played.


  1. Sky Sports (2 March 2009). "RFL cool on bigger Challenge". BSkyB. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  2. World Club Series Details Announced - Rugby League Week
  3. Dragons to play in World Club Series -
  4. "Warrington 27-18 Brisbane: Wolves' first-half blitz stuns Broncos".
  5. "Wigan 22-6 Cronulla: Warriors crowned World Club Champions".
  6. "2018 World Club Challenge: Leeds Rhinos to play Melbourne Storm in Australia". BBC Sport. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  7. "Super League: Wigan Warriors to face Hull FC in Australia in 2018". BBC Sport. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.