World Club ChallengeClick here to view World Club Challenge 2015
The World Club Challenge is an annually competition between the winners of the Australian NRL and the European 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 South Sydney Rabbitohs are the current champions, having defeated St Helens 39–0 in 2015.
As the World Club Series championship match is a match between the premiers of the National Rugby League and Super League, 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.
In 2015 two other games were added to expand the World Club Challenge. These games are exibition matches in the World Club Series before the main game, the World Club Challenge.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1976–1999: Origin and Development
- 1.2 2000–2014: Regular competition
- 1.3 2015-Present: World Club Series
- 2 List of participants
- 3 Results
- 3.1 Winners
- 4 Records
- 4.1 Biggest Win
- 4.2 Attendence
- 5 References
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.
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.
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 Australian and European Super Leagues. 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 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.
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 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 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 will also be expanded to six teams. The World Club Challenge return to Australia in 2014 was a success with a solid crowd numbers of just 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-Present: 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. 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.
List of participants
- excludes pool games in 1997
|World Club Challenge Participants|
||Bradford Bulls||1907||Bradford, West Yorkshire||Odsal Stadium||27,491||3 (2006)|
||Brisbane Broncos||1987||Brisbane, Queensland||Suncorp Stadium||52,500||2 (1997)|
||Canberra Raiders||1981||Canberra, Australian Capital Territory||Canberra Stadium||25,000||0|
||Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs||1934||Canterbury, New South Wales||ANZ Stadium||84,000||0|
||Hunter Mariners||1995||Newcastle, New South Wales||Topper Stadium||11,000||0|
||Leeds Rhinos||1864||Leeds, West Yorkshire||Headingley Carnegie Stadium||20,500||3 (2012)|
||Manly Warringah Sea Eagles||1946||Manly, New South Wales||Brookvale Oval||23,000||1 (2009)|
||Melbourne Storm||1997||Melbourne, Victoria||AAMI Park||30,050||2 (2013)|
||Newcastle Knights||1988||Newcastle, New South Wales||Hunter Stadium||33,000||0|
||Penrith Panthers||1966||Penrith, New South Wales||Sporting Bet Stadium||22,500||0|
||South Sydney Rabbitohs||1908||Redfern, New South Wales||ANZ Stadium||84,000||1 (2015)|
||St George Illawarra Dragons||1998||Sydney, New South Wales||WIN Jubilee Oval||22,000||1 (2011)|
||St Helens||1873||St Helens, Merseyside||Langtree Park||18,000||2 (2007)|
||Sydney Roosters||1908||Sydney, New South Wales||Allianz Stadium||45,500||3 (2014)|
||Wests Tigers||1999||Sydney, New South Wales||Campbelltown Stadium||22,000||0|
||Widnes Vikings||1875||Widnes, Cheshire||Select Security Stadium||13,500||1 (1989)|
||Wigan Warriors||1872||Wigan, Greater Manchester||DW Stadium||24,057||3 (1994)|
*capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.
|1976||Eastern Suburbs||25–2||St Helens||Sydney Cricket Ground|
|1987||Wigan Warriors||8–2||Manly Sea Eagles||Central Park|
|1989||Widnes Vikings||30–18||Canberra Raiders||Old Trafford|
|1991||Wigan Warriors||21–4||Penrith Panthers||Anfield|
|1992||Brisbane Broncos||22–8||Wigan Warriors||Central Park|
|1994||Wigan Warriors||20–14||Brisbane Broncos||ANZ Stadium (Brisbane)|
|1997*||Brisbane Broncos||36–12||Hunter Mariners||Ericsson Stadium|
|2000||Melbourne Storm||44–6||St Helens||DW Stadium|
|2001||St Helens||20–18||Brisbane Broncos||Reebok Stadium|
|2002||Bradford Bulls||41–26||Newcastle Knights||John Smith's Stadium|
|2003||Sydney Roosters||38–0||St Helens||Reebok Stadium|
|2004||Bradford Bulls||22–4||Penrith Panthers||John Smith's Stadium|
|2005||Leeds Rhinos||39–32||Canterbury Bulldogs||Elland Road|
|2006||Bradford Bulls||30–10||Wests Tigers||John Smith's Stadium|
|2007||St Helens||18–14||Brisbane Broncos||Reebok Stadium|
|2008||Leeds Rhinos||11–4||Melbourne Storm||Elland Road|
|2009||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||28–20||Leeds Rhinos||Elland Road|
|2010||Melbourne Storm*||18–10||Leeds Rhinos||Elland Road|
|2011||St George-Illawarra Dragons||21–15||Wigan Warriors||DW Stadium|
|2012||Leeds Rhinos||26–12||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||Headingley Carnegie Stadium|
|2013||Melbourne Storm||18–14||Leeds Rhinos||Headingley Carnegie Stadium|
|2014||Sydney Roosters||36–14||Wigan Warriors||Allianz Stadium|
|2015||South Sydney||39-0||St Helens||Langtree Park|
- (1997*- Tournament)
- (*- Melbourne Storm stripped of title)
|1||Sydney Roosters||3||1976, 2003, 2014|
|2||Leeds Rhinos||3||2005, 2008, 2012|
|3||Bradford Bulls||3||2002, 2004, 2006|
|4||Wigan Warriors||3||1987, 1991, 1994|
|5||Melbourne Storm||2||2000, 2013|
|6||St Helens||2||2001, 2007|
|7||Brisbane Broncos||2||1992, 1997|
|8||South Sydney Rabbitohs||1||2015|
|9||St George Illawarra Dragons||1||2011|
|10||Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles||1||2009|
|2015||South Sydney Rabbitohs||39-0||St Helens RFC|
- Wilson, Andy (3 October 2010). "Wigan prepare to slay Dragons after crushing St Helens in Grand Final". guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 24 July 2011.
- 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.
- Hadfield, Dave (1998-09-23). "League proposes show in S Africa". The Independent (UK: independent.co.uk). Retrieved 2010-04-24.
- Phil Gould (2006-02-05). "Humbling highlights Tigers' reliance on Benji". SMH. Retrieved 2009-05-16.
- 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.
- rleague.com (2012-05-20). "World Club Challenge Expansion Working Party Group". rleague.com. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- nrl.com (2013-11-18). "World Club Challenge confirmed for Aust". nrl.com. Retrieved 2013-02-05.
- Steve Mascord (2013-02-14). "World Club Challenge to be held in Australia". Canberra Times. Retrieved 2013-02-14.
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