The First Boss - Henry Hoyle
20 hours ago | Andrew Ferguson
It's that time of year again - so from the LeagueUnlimited.com management, staff and volunteers to you and your family & friends - we wish you a very Merry Christmas and holiday season.
Up front, we want to send our best to everyone around the country who's been doing it tough through the drought and indeed some horrible spring and summer fires. It's been a trying year for so many Australians and we hope 2020 is kinder to you all.
Indeed it's been another huge year of footy across Australia, the Pacific and in Europe.
Back-to-back premierships and no signs of slowing down from the Sydney Roosters, while the Melbourne Storm continued to dominate the regular season winning yet another J.J. Giltinan shield as minor premiers. The Brisbane Broncos claimed the second NRLW title after winning the inaugural competition last year as well.
In terms of award winners, James Tedesco took out The Player's Champion, Dally M medal and our own LeagueUnlimited.com Player of the Year, finishing clear of evergreen Melbourne hooker Cameron Smith. In the Women's competition, Brisbane's Rona Peters finished with most votes and was our NRLW player of the season.
Up in Europe, Warrington took out the Coral Challenge Cup, upsetting runaway favourites St Helens at Wembley in August. The Saints didn't go home empty handed, dominating the Super League all season, claiming the League Leaders' Shield before going on with the job - unlike in 2018 - and being crowned Betfred Super League champions. The biggest story from the RFL's tiered system though, was Toronto Wolfpack claiming the Betfred Championship title and earning promotion to the Super League in 2020.
Back down under, New South Wales retained the Origin shield, and their female counterparts did the same in the second Women's Origin contest at North Sydney Oval. That fixture will shift into enemy territory next year with Sunshine Coast Stadium to host the annual contest.
The international stage was largely left til the end of 2019 - a small handful of tests took place mid-year with New Zealand comfortably accounting for Tonga in Auckland, shortly followed by Fiji downing Lebanon and Samoa's victory over PNG in the Pacific Tests at Leichhardt in Sydney. Shortly after the season completed, Australia were victors in the inaugural World Cup 9's in both the women's and men's tournaments, played at Bankwest Stadium.
Come the post season, the applecart was turned over. Great Britain visited for a tour of New Zealand and PNG in which they went home empty handed, recording losses to Tonga, New Zealand and the PNG Kumuls. Australia didn't escape unscathed - they did down the Kiwis on home soil in October, but fell to a spirited Tonga side a week later in Auckland. Fiji also recorded an important win over Samoa to earn promotion to the top tier of the next Oceania Cup.
Lastly in 2019 we saw all the spots filled for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup. Following Jamaica's surprise qualification in late 2018, this season saw repechage matches to decide the final non-European spot in the tournament - Cook Islands overcame South Africa mid-year before downing the USA Hawks in November to secure their return to the world stage after missing out on the 2017 tournament.
Meanwhile the final European qualifiers took place in a round-robin format, with Ireland, Italy, Scotland and RLWC newcomers Greece earning spots.
And yes - LeagueUnlimited.com covered all of it. For results, teamsheets and more for just about every game for all of those competitions, just click here.
2020 is just around the corner and we hope you'll stick with us as we enter our 19th year of covering everything about rugby league in Australia and plenty from beyond our own borders too. And yep - it all starts as soon as Thursday - with Boxing Day showdowns awaiting fans of several English clubs.
You can check out draws for any number of competitions for 2020 here.
For those wanting to get involved, LeagueUnlimited's 'The Front Row Forums' are there for your enjoyment 24/7. The largest rugby league discussion forums online continue to grow, with the usual debate and frank exchange of views. You can also follow the latest news and match updates on social media with us, so make sure you hit follow along with more than 20,000 footy fans on our Twitter, and join the 4,000+ who like us on Facebook!
As always we just can't let Christmas pass us by without thanking the incredible, dedicated contributors, writers and updaters to LU, as well as the moderators and administrators on the Front Row Forums. The website and discussion forums wouldn't continue to be such a success without you all - keep up the tireless and appreciated work you do! We hope you'll continue to make amazing contributions throughout 2020.
Interested in joining that team? We are on the lookout for anyone wanting to be part of LeagueUnlimited.com. If you have any offers, suggestions or think you have what it takes to be part of the team, please don't hesitate to email us at email@example.com.
A safe and enjoyable holidays to one and all!
- The LeagueUnlimited.com team
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