Rugby League Challenge Cup

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Image:Challenge cup 1897.jpg
The first ever Challenge Cup Final, 1897: Batley(l) vs St Helens(r)

The Challenge Cup is a knockout competition for rugby league clubs in Europe. Originally it was contested only by British teams, but in recent years the entry has been expanded to allow French and Russian teams to take part.

It has been held annually since 1896, with the exception of the duration of the First World War.

Contents

[edit] History

The clubs that formed the Northern Union had long been playing in local knockout cup competitions under the auspices of the Rugby Football Union. However, the rugby union authorities refused to sanction a nationwide tournament, fearing that this would inevitably lead to professionalism. After the schism of 1895, the northern clubs were free to go-ahead, and they instigated the Northern Rugby Football Union Challenge Cup.

The first competition was held during the 1896-97 season (the second season of the new game), and 56 clubs entered to compete for the £60 trophy. The first final was held at Headingley in Leeds, on the 24th April 1897. Batley defeated St Helens 10-3 in front of a crowd of 13,492 (see picture). It is interesting to note that the St Helens side did not play in a standardised team jersey.

Initially, the final tie was held at one of the larger club grounds in the north, however, in 1927 the decision was made to relocate to the new Wembley Stadium in London. The first final held at Wembley was in 1929 when Wigan beat Dewsbury 13-2 in front of a crowd of 41,500.

In 1946, the Lance Todd Trophy was introduced and awarded to the man of the match. In itself, it is a prestigious 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 is presented at a celebratory dinner at The Willows, home of the Salford City Reds. On Saturday 26 August 2006 St Helens scrum-half Sean Long became the first player in the history of the Challenge Cup to collect a third Lance Todd trophy following his man-of-the-match performance in the final against Huddersfield Giants. His other Lance Todd trophy wins came in the 2001 and 2004 Challenge Cup Finals

In recent years the redevelopment of Wembley has led to the Cup Final utilising a variety of venues. The final is one of the biggest rugby league events of the year in Britain, along with the Super League Grand Final.

The Challenge Cup final traditionally formed the end to the season, being played in late April or early May. The move to a summer season for rugby league in 1996 did not see the Challenge Cup moved, and it became instead essentially a pre-season tournament, with the final taking place early in the season. Many people felt that this led to a decline in the prestige of the cup.

It was changed to a Summer competition in 2005, with the first Summer Cup Final held on Saturday August 27 at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff.

[edit] Structure

The modern Challenge Cup has 8 rounds prior to the final. Teams are seeded, entering at different stages. The precise format has altered slightly from year to year, however the basic format is as follows:

  • Preliminary round: The weaker of the amateur clubs involved go in the draw for this round with some receiving byes dependent on numbers. Teams from National League Three, the National Conference League Premier Division (and sometimes Division One dependent on numbers) and the Army, Navy and RAF are guaranteed exemptions to the First Round. Besides the forces, National Conference League and National League Three sides that have automatic right to entry (not all National League Three sides do) there are sixteen sides invited from the regional BARLA leagues, plus one or two sides from the Student Rugby League, a representative from the Rugby League Conference and a representative each for Wales, Scotland and Ireland (although these teams don't always enter in practice).
  • First round: Amateur teams from all the nations of the British Isles. Most of the teams are English and affiliated to BARLA.
  • Second round: No new teams enter the competition at this stage
  • Fourth round: The twelve Super League teams join the competition
  • Fifth round: Last 16
  • Quarter Finals: Last eight
  • Semi Finals: (played at neutral venues)
  • Final

[edit] List of finals

Note that in the years immediately following the Second World War the final was played over two legs, with the aggregate score being used.

YearWinnersScoreRunner-upVenueAttendance
1896-97Batley10 - 3St HelensLeeds13,492
1897-98 Batley7 - 0BradfordLeeds27,941
1898-99Oldham19 - 9HunsletManchester15,763
1899-00Swinton16 - 8SalfordManchester17,864
1900-01Batley6 - 0WarringtonLeeds29,563
1901-02Broughton Rangers25 - 0SalfordRochdale15,006
1902-03Halifax7 - 0SalfordLeeds32,507
1903-04 Halifax8 - 3WarringtonSalford17,041
1904-05Warrington6 - 0Hull Kingston RoversLeeds19,638
1905-06Bradford5 - 0SalfordLeeds15,834
1906-07Warrington17 - 3OldhamBroughton18,500
1907-08Hunslet14 - 0HullHuddersfield18,000
1908-09 Wakefield Trinity17 - 0HullLeeds23,587
1909-10 Leeds7 - 7HullHuddersfield11,608
(replay)Leeds26 - 12HullHuddersfield19,413
1910-11Broughton Rangers4 - 0WiganSalford8,000
1911-12Dewsbury8 - 5OldhamLeeds15,271
1912-13Huddersfield9 - 5WarringtonLeeds22,754
1913-14 Hull6 - 0Wakefield TrinityHalifax19,000
1914-15Huddersfield37 - 3St HelensOldham8,000
1919-20Huddersfield21 - 10 WiganLeeds14,000
1920-21Leigh13 - 0HalifaxBroughton25,000
1921-22Rochdale Hornets10 - 9HullLeeds32,596
1922-23Leeds28 - 3HullWakefield29,335
1923-24Wigan21 - 4 OldhamRochdale41,831
1924-25 Oldham16 - 3Hull Kingston RoversLeeds28,335
1925-26 Swinton9 - 3OldhamRochdale27,000
1926-27Oldham26 - 7SwintonWigan33,448
1927-28Swinton5 - 3WarringtonWigan33,909
1928-29Wigan13 - 2DewsburyWembley41,500
1929-30Widnes10 - 3St HelensWembley36,544
1930-31Halifax22 - 8YorkWembley40,368
1931-32Leeds11 - 8SwintonWigan29,000
1932-33Huddersfield21 - 17WarringtonWembley41,874
1933-34 Hunslet11 - 5WidnesWembley41,280
1934-35Castleford11 - 8 HuddersfieldWembley39,000
1935-36 Leeds18 - 2WarringtonWembley51,250
1936-37Widnes18 - 5KeighleyWembley47,699
1937-38Salford7 - 4BarrowWembley51,243
1938-39Halifax20 - 3SalfordWembley55,453
1940-41Leeds19 - 2HalifaxBradford28,500
1941-42Leeds15 - 10HalifaxBradford15,250
1942-43Dewsbury16 - 9LeedsDewsbury10,470
1942-43Leeds 6 - 0DewsburyLeeds16,000
1942-43Dewsbury16 - 15Leeds(aggegate score)n/a
1943-44 Bradford Northern0 - 3WiganWigan22,000
1943-44 Bradford Northern8 - 0 WiganBradford30,000
1943-44Bradford Northern8 - 3Wigan(aggegate score)n/a
1944-45 Huddersfield7 - 4Bradford NorthernHuddersfield9,041
1944-45Huddersfield6 - 5Bradford NorthernBradford17,500
1944-45Huddersfield13 - 9Bradford Northern(aggegate score)n/a
1945-46Wakefield Trinity13 - 12WiganWembley54,730
1946-47Bradford Northern8 - 4LeedsWembley77,605
1947-48Wigan8 - 3Bradford NorthernWembley71,465
1948-49Bradford Northern12 - 0HalifaxWembley95,050
1949-50Warrington19 - 0Widnes VikingsWembley94,249
1950-51 Wigan10 - 0BarrowWembley 94,262
1951-52Workington Town18 - 10Featherstone RoversWembley72,093
1952-53Huddersfield15 - 10St HelensWembley89,588
1953-54Warrington4 - 4 HalifaxWembley81,841
(replay)Warrington18 - 4HalifaxBradford102,569
1954-55Barrow21 - 12Workington TownWembley66,513
1955-56St Helens13 - 2HalifaxWembley79,341
1956-57Leeds9 - 7BarrowWembley76,318
1957-58Wigan13-9Workington TownWembley66,109
1958-59Wigan30 - 13HullWembley79,811
1959-60Wakefield Trinity38 - 5HullWembley79,773
1960-61St Helens12 - 6WiganWembley94,672
1961-62Wakefield Trinity12 - 6HuddersfieldWembley81,263
1962-63Wakefield Trinity25 - 10WiganWembley84,492
1963-64Widnes13 - 5Hull Kingston RoversWembley84,488
1964-65Wigan20 - 16HunsletWembley89,016
1965-66St Helens21 - 2WiganWembley98,536
1966-67Featherstone Rovers17 - 12BarrowWembley76,290
1967-68Leeds11 - 10Wakefield TrinityWembley87,100
1968-69Castleford11 - 6Salford Wembley97,939
1969-70Castleford7 - 2WiganWembley95,255
1970-71Leigh24 - 7LeedsWembley85,514
1971-72St Helens16 - 13LeedsWembley89,495
1972-73Featherstone Rovers33 - 14Bradford NorthernWembley72,395
1973-74Warrington24 -9 Featherstone RoversWembley77,400
1974-75Widnes14 - 7WarringtonWembley85,098
1975-76St Helens20 - 5WidnesWembley89,982
1976-77Leeds16 - 7WidnesWembley80,871
1977-78Leeds14 - 12St HelensWembley96,000
1978-79 Widnes12 - 3Wakefield TrinityWembley94,218
1979-80Hull Kingston Rovers10 - 5HullWembley95,000
1980-81Widnes18 - 9 Hull Kingston RoversWembley92,496
1981-82Hull14 - 14WidnesWembley92,147
(replay)Hull18 - 9WidnesLeeds41,171
1982-83Featherstone Rovers 14 - 12HullWembley84,969
1983-84 Widnes19 - 6WiganWembley80,116
1984-85Wigan 28 - 24 Hull Wembley 99,801
1985-86 Castleford Tigers 15 - 14 Hull Kingston Rovers Wembley 82,134
1986-87 Halifax 19 - 18 St Helens Wembley 91,267
1987-88 Wigan 32 - 12 Halifax Wembley 94,273
1988-89 Wigan 27 - 0 St Helens Wembley 78,000
1989-90 Wigan 36 - 14 Warrington Wembley 77,729
1990-91 Wigan 13 - 8 St Helens Wembley 75,532
1991-92 Wigan 28 - 12 Castleford Wembley 77,286
1992-93 Wigan 20 - 14 Widnes Wembley 77,684
1993-94 Wigan 26 - 16 Leeds Wembley 78,348
1994-95 Wigan 30 - 10 Leeds Wembley 78,550
1995-96 St Helens 40 - 32 Bradford Bulls Wembley 75,994
1996-97 St Helens 32 - 22 Bradford Bulls Wembley 78,022
1997-98 Sheffield Eagles 17 - 8 Wigan Warriors Wembley 60,669
1998-99 Leeds Rhinos 52- 16 London Broncos Wembley 73,242
1999-00 Bradford Bulls 24 - 18 Leeds Rhinos Murrayfield 67,247
2000-01 St Helens 13 - 6 Bradford Bulls Twickenham Stadium 68,250
2001-02 Wigan Warriors 21 - 12 St Helens Murrayfield 62,140
2002-03 Bradford Bulls 22 - 20 Leeds Rhinos Millennium Stadium 71,212
2003-04 St Helens 32 - 16 Wigan Warriors Millennium Stadium 73,734
2005 Hull FC 25 - 24 Leeds Rhinos Millennium Stadium 74,213
2006 St Helens 42 - 12 Huddersfield Giants Twickenham Stadium 65,187

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