World Club Challenge

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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 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 exhibition 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 Match records
      • 4.1.1 Biggest win
      • 4.1.2 Highest scoring game
      • 4.1.3 Lowest scoring game
    • 4.2 Attendance
      • 4.2.1 Highest
      • 4.2.2 Lowest
    • 4.3 Venues
    • 4.4 Individual records
      • 4.4.1 Scoring
  • 5 Sponsors
  • 6 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.

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

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.

1997 tournament trophy

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

Main article: 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
Colors Club Established City Stadium Capacity* Titles (Last)
Bradford Bulls 1907 Bradford, West Yorkshire Odsal Stadium 27,491 3 (2006)
Brisbane colours.svg
Brisbane Broncos 1987 Brisbane, Queensland Suncorp Stadium 52,500 2 (1997)
Canberra colours.svg
Canberra Raiders 1981 Canberra, Australian Capital Territory Canberra Stadium 25,000 0
Canterbury colours.svg
Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs 1934 Canterbury, New South Wales ANZ Stadium 84,000 0
Hunter colours.svg
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 Sea Eagles colours.svg
Manly Warringah Sea Eagles 1946 Manly, New South Wales Brookvale Oval 23,000 1 (2009)
Melbourne colours.svg
Melbourne Storm 1997 Melbourne, Victoria AAMI Park 30,050 2 (2013)
Newcastle colours.svg
Newcastle Knights 1988 Newcastle, New South Wales Hunter Stadium 33,000 0
North Queensland colours.svg
North Queensland Cowboys 1995 Townsville, Queensland 1300SMILES Stadium 26,500 0
Panthers colours.svg
Penrith Panthers 1966 Penrith, New South Wales Sporting Bet Stadium 22,500 0
South Sydney colours.svg
South Sydney Rabbitohs 1908 Redfern, New South Wales ANZ Stadium 84,000 1 (2015)
St. George colours.svg
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)
Eastern Suburbs colours.svg
Sydney Roosters 1908 Sydney, New South Wales Allianz Stadium 45,500 3 (2014)
Wests Tigers colours.svg
Wests Tigers 1999 Sydney, New South Wales Campbelltown Stadium 22,000 0
Widnes colours.svg
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.


Year Result Stadium
Winners Score Runners-up
1976 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Eastern Suburbs 25–2 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Sydney Cricket Ground
1987 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 8–2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles Central Park
1989 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 30–18 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders Old Trafford
1991 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 21–4 Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers Anfield
1992 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 22–8 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Central Park
1994 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 20–14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos ANZ Stadium
1997* Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 36–12 Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners Ericsson Stadium
2000 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 44–6 Saintscolours.svg St Helens DW Stadium
2001 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 20–18 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos Reebok Stadium
2002 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 41–26 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights John Smith's Stadium
2003 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 38–0 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Reebok Stadium
2004 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 22–4 Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers John Smith's Stadium
2005 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 39–32 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs Elland Road
2006 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 30–10 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers John Smith's Stadium
2007 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 18–14 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos Reebok Stadium
2008 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 11–4 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm Elland Road
2009 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28–20 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Elland Road
2010 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm* 18–10 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Elland Road
2011 St. George colours.svg St George-Illawarra Dragons 21–15 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors DW Stadium
2012 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 26–12 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles Headingley Carnegie Stadium
2013 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 18–14 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Headingley Carnegie Stadium
2014 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 36–14 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Allianz Stadium
2015 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 39-0 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Langtree Park
2016 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys/ TBD TBD North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys/ TBD TBA
  • (1997*- Tournament)
  • (*- Melbourne Storm stripped of title)


Club Wins Last win Runners-up Last final lost
1 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 3 2014 0 N/A
2 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 3 2006 0 N/A
3 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 3 1994 3 2014
4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 3 2012 3 2013
5 Melbourne colours.svg Melbourne Storm 2 2013 1 2008
6 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 2 1997 3 2007
7 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 2 2007 4 2015
8 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles 1 2009 1 2012
9 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 1 1989 0 N/A
10 St. George colours.svg St George Dragons 1 2011 0 N/A
11 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 1 2015 0 N/A
12 Panthers colours.svg Penrith Panthers 0 N/A 2 2004
13 Wests Tigers colours.svg Wests Tigers 0 N/A 1 2006
14 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs 0 N/A 1 2005
15 Newcastle colours.svg Newcastle Knights 0 N/A 1 2002
16 Hunter colours.svg Hunter Mariners 0 N/A 1 1997
17 Canberra colours.svg Canberra Raiders 0 N/A 1 1989
Country Wins
1  United Kingdom 12
2  Australia 10


Match records

Biggest win

Year Winner Score Loser
2015 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 39-0 Saintscolours.svg St Helens RFC

Highest scoring game

Year Winner Score Loser
2005 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 39-32 Canterbury colours.svg Canterbury Bulldogs

Lowest scoring game

Year Winner Score Loser
1987 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 8-2 Manly Sea Eagles colours.svg Manly Sea Eagles



Year City Stadium Attendance
1994 Brisbane ANZ Stadium 54,220


Year City Stadium Attendance
1997 Auckland Mount Smart Stadium 12,000


City Stadium Years
1 England Leeds Elland Road 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010
2 England Bolton Macron Stadium 2001, 2003, 2007
3 England Huddersfield John Smiths Stadium 2002, 2004, 2006
4 England Wigan Central Park 1987, 1992
5 England Wigan DW Stadium 2000, 2011
6 England Leeds Headingley Carnegie Stadium 2012, 2013
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 Mount Smart Stadium 1997
12 Australia Sydney Allianz Stadium 2014
13 England St Helens Langtree Park 2015

Individual records


Total points

Points Name (club/s) Appearances Tries Goals Drop Goals
36 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds) 6 0 17 2
24 Frano Botica (Wigan) 3 0 12 0
23 Paul Deacon (Bradford) 2 0 11 1
22 Craig Fitzgibbon (Sydney) 1 1 9 0

Most points in a game

Points Name (club/s) Tries Goals Opponent Date
22 Craig Fitzgibbon (Sydney) 1 9 St. Helens 14 February 2003

Total tries (2 or more)

Tries Name (club/s)
4 Ryan Hall (Leeds)
3 Marcus Bai (Melbourne / Bradford)
Michael Hancock (Brisbane)
Michael Jennings (Sydney)
Jamie Jones-Buchanan (Leeds)
Danny McGuire (Leeds)
Darren Smith (Brisbane)
Brett Stewart (Manly-Warringah)
2 George Carmont (Wigan)
Josh Charnley (Wigan)
Hazem El Masri (Canterbury-Bankstown)
Stuart Fielden (Bradford)
Ade Gardner (St Helens)
Scott Hill (Melbourne)
Andrew Johns (Newcastle)
Jamahl Lolesi (Canterbury-Bankstown, Wests Tigers)
Brett Morris (St George Illawarra)
Martin Offiah (Widnes)
Julian O'Neill (Brisbane)
Robbie Paul (Bradford)
Joel Reddy (South Sydney)
Robbie Ross (Melbourne)
Paul Sculthorpe (St Helens)
Lesley Vainikolo (Bradford)
Anthony Watmough (Manly-Warringah)
Michael Withers (Bradford)
Nick Zisti (Hunter)

Most tries in a game

Tries Name (club/s) Opponent Date
3 Michael Jennings (Sydney) Wigan 22 February 2014

Total goals

Goals Name (club/s)
17 Kevin Sinfield (Leeds)
12 Frano Botica (Wigan)
11 Paul Deacon (Bradford / Wigan)
9 Craig Fitzgibbon (Sydney)
8 Cameron Smith (Melbourne)

Drop goals

Goals Name (club/s)
2 Sinfield (Leeds)
1 Deacon (Bradford)
Long (St Helens)
Lydon (Wigan)
Sculthorpe (St Helens)
Soward (St George Illawarra)
Tomkins (Wigan)


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 None World Club Challenge
2015- AFEX AFRX World Club Series


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