St Helens R.F.C.
St Helens Rugby Football Club is a professional rugby league club in St Helens, Merseyside currently competing in the Super League, the top tier of competition for rugby league in Europe. Formed in 1873, St Helens are one of the 22 original members of the Northern Rugby Football Union and have been champions on 13 occasions. St Helens are also the third most successful side in the Challenge Cup with 12 wins in 21 Final appearances, St Helens are founding members of the Super League and are one of only four teams to have appeared in every season since its creation in 1996. Since 1961 the clubs colours have been white, with a red V on the jersey. St Helens play their games at the Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens, having moved from their previous home, Knowsley Road. St Helens are one of the oldest members of the Rugby Football League, founded as St Helens Football Club on 19 November 1873 at the Fleece Hotel by William Douglas Herman, they played their first ever match on 31 January 1874 against Liverpool Royal Infirmary. They became known as St Helens Rangers up until the 1880s, the club moved from the City Ground in 1890 where they had shared with St Helens Recs when neither were members of the Northern Rugby Football Union. They defeated Manchester Rangers in the first match played at Knowsley Road, in 1895 the club were one of 22 clubs that resigned from the Rugby Football Union and established the Northern Union. The first match of the new code was an 8—3 win at home to Rochdale Hornets before 3,000 spectators and they played in a vertically striped blue and white jersey—a stark contrast to the well known broad red band which would become the kit for the club later. The club reverted to this kit for one season during the rugby league season in 1995. The Challenge Cup was launched in 1897 and it was St Helens who contested its first final with Batley, at Headingley, the Gallant Youths of Batley emerged victorious 10—3, with Dave Red Traynor scoring the lone St Helens try. Between 1897 and 1901, St Helens were not successful, even considered a mid—table side. They finished second to bottom in the 1900—01 Lancashire League season, in the 1901—02 season, however, they did finish third in the Lancashire league. In 1902–03, the combined Lancashire and Yorkshire leagues saw St Helens enter for the first time, St Helens were placed in Division 1 but finished next to bottom and suffered relegation. Promotion was gained at the 1st attempt, only for another year to see them finish once again in a relegation position. However the two Divisions became one League to save the club from a 2nd relegation, on 14 June 1913, St Helens Recs joined the Northern Union after defecting from rugby union and association football. The Recs were based individually at the City Road ground, after previously sharing with St Helens, before their move to Knowsley Road, the Recs played their first game on 6 September 1913. St Helens now had two rugby league teams
Super League is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in Europe. The league has twelve teams, eleven from England and one from France, canadian and Welsh clubs that also compete in the Rugby Football League can also qualify. Commonally known in the UK as the Super League it is referred to internationally as the European Super League, the current champions are Wigan Warriors. Super League began in 1996, replacing the RFL Championship and switching from a winter to a summer season, each team plays 23 games between February and July,11 home games,11 away games and a Magic Weekend game at a neutral venue. After 23 games, teams enter a Super 8 stage, the top eight play each other once more, the top four then enter the play-off series leading to the Grand Final which determines the champions. The bottom four teams go on to play the top four Championship teams in The Qualifiers to determine who will play in Super League the following season, Leeds Rhinos are the most successful club in the Super League era, having won 7 titles. However, Wigan Warriors are the most successful overall, having won 21 British Championships. The Super League champions play the National Rugby League champions from Australasia in the World Club Challenge at the start of the season, murdoch also approached the British clubs to form Super League. A large sum of money aided the decision, and the competition got under way in 1996, part of the deal saw rugby league switch from a winter to a summer season. The 12 founding teams of Super League were, Bradford Bulls Castleford Tigers Halifax Leeds Rhinos London Broncos Oldham Roughyeds Paris Saint-Germain Sheffield Eagles St. C, however this proved so unpopular that only existing clubs were selected for the competition. London Broncos, who had come fourth in the Second Division, were fast-tracked in on commercial grounds, a new team, Paris Saint-Germain, was created to give a French dimension. Between 1998 and 2000 there was no relegation from Super League, after two years Paris were dropped from the competition. In 2006, French side Catalans Dragons from Perpignan joined the league, Super League licences were announced in May 2005 by the RFL as the new determinant of the Super League competitions participants from 2009 in place of promotion and relegation. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than just the performance of a club. After 2007 automatic promotion and relegation was suspended for Super League with new teams to be admitted on a basis with the term of the licence to start in 2009. The RFL stated that applying to compete in Super League would be assessed by criteria in four areas with the final evaluations and decisions being taken by the RFL board of directors. Points attained by each application are translated into licence grades A, B or C. First licensing period In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009, the teams announced were the 12 existing Super League teams along with National League 1 teams, Celtic Crusaders and Salford
Super League Grand Final
The Super League Grand Final is the championship-deciding game of rugby leagues Super League competition. It is played two teams who have qualified via the Super League Play-Off series. The winning team receive the Super League Trophy and go on to play the NRL champions in the World Club Challenge, the Harry Sunderland Trophy is awarded to the man of the match in the Grand Final. Wigan are the current champions, beating Warrington 12-6, use of a play-off system to decide the Championship brought back a rugby league tradition that had fallen out of use in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. The Super League Premiership replaced the Championship final but it was to decide the Premiership winners, the Premiership was discontinued after the introduction of the Super League play-off series in 1998. The Super League Grand Final was introduced for the 1998 season, the inaugural Grand Final match was played that year on Saturday 24 October, between Wigan and Leeds. The venue of every Super League Grand Final to date has been Old Trafford, the Grand Final is held at Old Trafford, Manchester, the largest capacity stadium in the North of England. Attendances The winners of the Grand Final qualify to play the winners of the National Rugby League in the World Club Challenge, the Grand Final Runner up can play in the World Club Series if a team were to win the double. The winners of the Super League collect the Grand Final rings, the winners also collect £100,000 with the runner up collecting £50,000. The record for most Super League titles won is held by Leeds with seven titles, Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield currently holds the record for captaining the most Super League title winning sides after captaining Leeds to all 7 of their grand final successes. The Harry Sunderland Trophy is awarded to the Man-of-the-Match in the Super League Grand Final by the Rugby League Writers Association, the Super League Grand Final has been the championship-deciding game since Super League III in 1998, These final were held at Old Trafford. In rugby league, the term the Double is referring to the achievement of a club wins the top division. To date, this has been achieved by a total ten different clubs, the Treble refers to the team who wins all three domestic honours on offer during the season, Grand Final, League Leaders Shield and Challenge Cup. To date seven teams have won the treble, only Bradford Bulls, St. Helens, winning all Four Cups refers to winning the Super League, League Leaders Shield, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge in one season. Not all of these cups were available in the past but have replaced over cups that could be won, feeder were cancelled in 2011 due to the pitch being wet and a stage could not be constructed. Super League Super League Play-Off Series Old Trafford Super League Trophy Harry Sunderland Trophy
The Challenge Cup is a knockout rugby league cup competition organised by the Rugby Football League, held annually since 1896, with the exception of 1915–1919 and 1939–1940. It involves amateur, semi-professional and professional clubs, the final of the Challenge Cup at Wembley Stadium, London, is one of the most prestigious matches in world rugby league and is broadcast around the world. Abide with Me, sung before the game, has become a rugby league anthem, the current holders of the Challenge Cup are Hull F. C. who defeated Warrington 12–10 on 27 August 2016 at Wembley Stadium, the very first time they have won at Wembley. Wigan are the most successful club in the history of the competition, the clubs that formed the Northern Union had long been playing in local knock-out cup competitions under the auspices of the Rugby Football Union. However, the rugby union authorities refused to sanction a nationwide tournament, after the schism of 1895, the northern clubs were free to go-ahead, and they instigated the Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup. In 1896 Fattorinis of Bradford were commissioned to manufacture the Challenge Cup at a cost of just £60, Fattorinis also supplied three-guineas winners medals then valued at thirty shillings. The first competition was held during the 1896–97 season, and 56 clubs entered to compete for the trophy, the first final was held at Headingley in Leeds, on 24 April 1897. Batley defeated St. Helens 10–3 in front of a crowd of 13,492 and it is interesting to note that the St Helens side did not play in a standardised team jersey. The competition was interrupted by the Great War, although it was held in 1915. It was then suspended until the end of hostilities, the first final held at Wembley was in 1929 when Wigan beat Dewsbury 13–2 in front of a crowd of 41,500. The Challenge Cup finals, which place in the game’s Northern heartland, got big crowds as the game raised money for prisoners of war. In 1946, the Lance Todd Trophy was introduced and awarded to the man of the match, the first winner was Billy Stott of Wakefield Trinity the first winner of the trophy on the losing team was Frank Whitcombe of Bradford Northern in 1948. In itself, it is a trophy presented only at the Challenge Cup Final. The winner is selected by the members of the Rugby League Writers Association present at the game and the trophy was presented at a dinner at the Willows. 1954 saw the Challenge Cup final drawn and the set the record for a rugby league match attendance. The match was on 5 May and 102,569 was the attendance at Odsal Stadium. Wigan are well known for their successes in the Challenge Cup competition, until the 1993–94 season there were very few amateur clubs included in the cup, typically two. For part of the 1980s, and the 1992–93 season the cup was solely for professional clubs, in 1997, a Challenge Cup Plate took place for teams knocked out in the early rounds of the competition
World Club Challenge
The World Club Challenge is an annually held 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 fixture until the late 1980s. It was also punctuated in the 1990s by the Super League war but has held every year since 2000. The Wigan Warriors are the current champions, having defeated the Cronulla Sutherland Sharks 22-6 in 2017, the World Club Challenge is now the championship match for the World Club Series which began at the beginning of 2015. The World Club Series includes two games, these games are exhibition matches before the main game, the World Club Challenge. The competition began so unofficially in 1976 as a match between Sydneys 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 six rounds in two hemispheres and $1,000,000 prize money, the competition was prohibitively expensive to stage and 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 match between the League champions in 1998, a World Club Challenge as a show-piece fixture at Ellis Park in Johannesburg was mooted. 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, for these reasons, it was viewed as merely a pre-season warm up game by most Australasian teams and fans. This also led to a 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 February 2013, the changes to the tournament were gaining momentum with the NRL and 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, Sydneys 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, excludes pool games in 1997 *capacity for rugby league games may differ from official stadium capacity