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World Club Challenge

World Club Challenge
Current season or competition:
2020 World Club Challenge
World Club Challenge logo
SportRugby league
Instituted1976
Inaugural season1976
Number of teams2
Countries Australia
 England
 New Zealand
 France
 Canada
ChampionsEastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (2019)
Most titlesEastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors (4 titles)
Broadcast partnerSky Sports United Kingdom Republic of Ireland
Nine Network Australia
Sky Sport New Zealand
Related competitionWorld 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.

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.

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]

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.

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 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.

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] This feat was repeated the following year by the Sydney Roosters.

Statistics

Participants

  • excludes pool games in 1997

(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
Bullscolours.svg
Bradford Bulls (b) 1907 Bradford, West Yorkshire England Super League 2006; 13 years ago (2006) 3 2006; 13 years ago (2006)
Brisbane colours.svg
Brisbane Broncos 1987 Brisbane, Queensland Australia NRL 2007; 12 years ago (2007) 2 1997; 22 years ago (1997)
Canberra colours.svg
Canberra Raiders 1981 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Australia NRL 1989; 30 years ago (1989) 0
Canterbury colours.svg
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 1934 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2005; 14 years ago (2005) 0
Cronulla colours.svg
Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 1967 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2017; 2 years ago (2017) 0
Hunter colours.svg
Hunter Mariners (a) 1995 Newcastle, New South Wales Australia NRL 1997; 22 years ago (1997) 0
Rhinoscolours.svg
Leeds Rhinos 1870 Leeds, West Yorkshire England Super League 2018; 1 year ago (2018) 3 2012; 7 years ago (2012)
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 1946 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2012; 7 years ago (2012) 1 2009; 10 years ago (2009)
Melbourne colours.svg
Melbourne Storm 1997 Melbourne, Victoria Australia NRL 2018; 1 year ago (2018) 3 2018; 1 year ago (2018)
Newcastle colours.svg
Newcastle Knights 1988 Newcastle, New South Wales Australia NRL 2002; 17 years ago (2002) 0
North Queensland colours.svg
North Queensland Cowboys 1993 Townsville, Queensland Australia NRL 2016; 3 years ago (2016) 1 2016; 3 years ago (2016)
Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg
Penrith Panthers 1967 Penrith, New South Wales Australia NRL 2004; 15 years ago (2004) 0
South Sydney colours.svg
South Sydney Rabbitohs 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2015; 4 years ago (2015) 1 2015; 4 years ago (2015)
St. George colours.svg
St George Illawarra Dragons 1998 Sydney and Wollongong, New South Wales Australia NRL 2011; 8 years ago (2011) 1 2011; 8 years ago (2011)
Saintscolours.svg
St. Helens 1873 St. Helens, Merseyside England Super League 2015; 4 years ago (2015) 2 2007; 12 years ago (2007)
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg
Sydney Roosters 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2019; 0 years ago (2019) 4 2019; 0 years ago (2019)
Wests Tigers colours.svg
Wests Tigers 1999 Sydney, New South Wales Australia NRL 2006; 13 years ago (2006) 0
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes Vikings (b) 1875 Widnes, Cheshire England Super League 1989; 30 years ago (1989) 1 1989; 30 years ago (1989)
Wigancolours.svg
Wigan Warriors 1872 Wigan, Greater Manchester England Super League 2017; 2 years ago (2017) 4 2017; 2 years ago (2017)

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)

Season Premiers Score Runners-up Referee(s) Venue Attendance Date
World Club Challenge
1976 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs Roosters 25 – 2 Saintscolours.svg St Helens G. Cook Sydney Cricket Ground

Sydney

26,865 29 June 1976
1987 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 8 – 2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles J. Holdsworth Central Park

Wigan

36,895 7 October 1987
1989 Widnes colours.svg Widnes 30 – 18 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders F. Desplas Old Trafford

Trafford

30,786 4 October 1989
1991 Wigancolours.svg Wigan (2) 21 – 4 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers A. Sablayrolles Anfield

Liverpool

20,152 2 October 1991
1992 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 22 – 8 Wigancolours.svg Wigan D. Hale Central Park

Wigan

17,764 30 October 1992
1994 Wigancolours.svg Wigan (3) 20 – 14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos G. McCallum QEII Stadium

Brisbane

54,220 1 June 1994
1997 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos (2) 36 – 12 Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners G. Annesley Mt Smart Stadium

Auckland

10,300 18 October 1997
2000 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 44 – 6 Saintscolours.svg St Helens S. Cummings JJB Stadium

Wigan

13,394 22 January 2000
2001 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 20 – 18 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos S. Cummings Reebok Stadium

Bolton

16,041 26 January 2001
2002 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 41 – 26 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights S. Cummings Alfred McAlpine Stadium

Huddersfield

21,113 1 February 2002
2003 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (2) 38 – 0 Saintscolours.svg St Helens R. Smith Reebok Stadium

Bolton

19,807 14 February 2003
2004 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls (2) 22 – 4 Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers S. Ganson Alfred McAlpine Stadium

Huddersfield

18,962 13 February 2004
2005 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 39 – 32 Canterbury colours.svg Bulldogs S. Hampstead Elland Road

Leeds

37,028 4 February 2005
2006 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls (3) 30 – 10 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers S. Ganson Alfred McAlpine Stadium

Huddersfield

19,207 3 February 2006
2007 Saintscolours.svg St Helens (2) 18 – 14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos S. Clark Reebok Stadium

Bolton

23,207 23 February 2007
2008 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos (2) 11 – 4 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm A. Klein Elland Road

Leeds

33,204 29 February 2008
2009 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28 – 20 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos J. Robinson Elland Road

Leeds

32,569 1 March 2009
2010 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 18 – 10 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos R. Silverwood Elland Road

Leeds

27,697 28 February 2010
2011 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 21 – 15 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors T. Alibert DW Stadium

Wigan

24,268 27 February 2011
2012 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos (3) 26 – 12 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles A. Klein Headingley Stadium

Leeds

21,062 17 February 2012
2013 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (2) 18 – 14 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos B. Thaler Headingley Stadium

Leeds

20,400 22 February 2013
2014 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (3) 36 – 14 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors B. Cummins

G. Sutton

Allianz Stadium

Sydney

31,515 22 February 2014
2015 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 39 – 0 Saintscolours.svg St Helens R. Silverwood Langtree Park

St Helens

17,980 22 February 2015
2016 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 38 – 4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos R. Silverwood Headingley Stadium

Leeds

19,778 21 February 2016
2017 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors (4) 22 – 6 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks R. Hicks DW Stadium

Wigan

21,011 19 February 2017
2018 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm (3) 38 – 4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos G. Sutton

B. Cummins

AAMI Park

Melbourne

19,062 16 February 2018
2019 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters (4) 20 – 8 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors R. Hicks DW Stadium

Wigan

21,331 17 February 2019
2020 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters vs Saintscolours.svg St Helens TBD

TBD

1 Melbourne stripped of title due to salary cap breaches

Team Performance

Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years runner-up
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 4 4 1987, 1991, 1994, 2017 1992, 2011, 2014, 2019
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 4 0 1976, 2003, 2014, 2019
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 3 5 2005, 2008, 2012 2009, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018
Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 3 1 2000, 2010, 2013, 2018 2008
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 3 0 2002, 2004, 2006
Saintscolours.svg St Helens 2 4 2001, 2007 1976, 2000, 2003, 2015
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 2 3 1992, 1997 1994, 2001, 2007
Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 1 2 2009 1987, 2012
Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 1 0 1989
St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 1 0 2011
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 1 0 2015
North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 1 0 2016
Penrith Panthers square flag icon with 2017 colours.svg Penrith Panthers 0 2 1991, 2004
Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 0 1 1989
Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners 0 1 1997
Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 0 1 2002
Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 0 1 2005
Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 0 1 2006
Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla-Sutherland Sharks 0 1 2017

Wins by Competition

Team Winners Years won
England Super League 13 1987, 1989, 1991, 1994, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,

2008, 2012, 2017

Australia National Rugby League 13 1976, 1992, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013, 2014,

2015, 2016, 2018, 2019

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 this is the Sydney Roosters in 2019.[16]

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

Club Years Titles
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 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

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

Attendance

Highest

Year City Stadium Attendance
1994 Brisbane ANZ Stadium 54,220

Lowest

Year City Stadium Attendance
1997 Auckland Ericsson Stadium 12,000

Records

Sponsors

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

Period Sponsor Name
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

References

  1. ^ Wilson, Andy (3 October 2010). "Wigan prepare to slay Dragons after crushing St Helens in Grand Final". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
  2. ^ Townsend, David (27 September 1992). "Just a Touch of the Old Dart". The Sydney Morning Herald. Australia: Fairfax Media. p. 47. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  3. ^ Hadfield, Dave (1998-09-23). "League proposes show in S Africa". The Independent. UK: independent.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-04-24.
  4. ^ Phil Gould (2006-02-05). "Humbling highlights Tigers' reliance on Benji". SMH. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
  5. ^ Langdon, Mark (2005-02-04). "Deadly Danny can get St Helens off to a flyer". The Racing Post. London, England: MGN LTD. Retrieved 2009-10-05.[dead link]
  6. ^ "World Club Challenge Expansion Working Party Group". rleague.com. 2012-05-20. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  7. ^ "World Club Challenge confirmed for Aust". nrl.com. 2013-11-18. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  8. ^ Steve Mascord (2013-02-14). "World Club Challenge to be held in Australia". Canberra Times. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2015-07-19.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Dragons to play in World Club Series". Nrl.com. Retrieved 9 October 2017.
  11. ^ "World Club Challenge set to be scrapped?". seriousaboutrl.com. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  12. ^ "Wollongong to host historic Super League game". foxsports.com.au. Retrieved 4 November 2017.
  13. ^ a b "2018 World Club Challenge: Leeds Rhinos to play Melbourne Storm in Australia". BBC Sport. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  14. ^ "Super League: Wigan Warriors to face Hull FC in Australia in 2018". BBC Sport. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  15. ^ "Slater injured as Storm beat Leeds in World Club Challenge". nrl.com.au. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  16. ^ "Storm treble enters the history books". melbournestorm.com.au. Retrieved 20 February 2018.