For all you rugby league fans out there, it’s time to celebrate the return of the Super League for another hard-hitting season.
Although technically it’s not the first action of the season, with Huddersfield and Wigan already meeting last week, everyone else is kicking-off their campaign this week and looking to get early points on the board.
Here at Lovell Rugby we have been looking through the Super League record books to help preview the exciting season ahead. With eighteen years to look back over, get ready for some stats as big and impressive as the tackles and players themselves.
Having started back in 1996 to replace the RFL Championship, Super League brought with it a change in seasons as the competition moved from winter to summer. Originally comprising of twelve teams, for the first two years only a League Leaders title was contested for and this saw St Helens and Bradford share the honours. Come 1998, the league format changed and the championship became a play-off series to determine the overall Super League champions. Leeds currently lead the way with six titles across the years, dominating the league with five titles between 2007 – 2012.
For all the impressive trophies that St Helens have won, it could so easily have been even more as between 2007 and 2011 they lost a record five consecutive Grand Finals, four of which came against Leeds. Throughout the years, just under half the sides who topped the league come the end of the regular season have then gone on to be crowned Super League champions.
Turning the clocks right back to the start of rugby league and you will find that Leeds and Huddersfield are the oldest clubs still in existence, having originally formed 150 years ago back in 1864.
For all the big hits and hard tackling that the Super League is renowned for, it may come as something of a surprise that the 2004 season holds the record for the least red cards in total, a rather soft two. Not wanting to lose its tough image, Wigan can lay claim to the most Men of Steel titles awarded to their players, with Ellery Hanley the only player to win three awards in 1985, 1987 and 1989. Whilst on the subject of tackling, Danny Houghton (Hull FC) has the fearsome record of most tackles in one season, with 1179 in 2013.
Saving two of the biggest Super League facts for the buzzer and Bradford’s Lesley Vainikolo holds the record for the most tries in one season with 36 back in 2004 whilst the all-time leading Super League try scorer record belongs to Leeds’ Danny McGuire, with 207 to his name.
Lovell Rugby’s Prediction
Opinions are clearly divided in the Lovell Rugby office, with some siding on Leeds and others opting for the reigning champions Wigan as well as Warrington and St Helens also thrown into the mix. This just goes to show how close the competition is as any one of several sides could realistically claim the title come Old Trafford on October 11th.
Players to Look Out For
Mose Masoe (St Helens) – nicknamed the ‘Smiling Assassin’, the 20st Samoa prop already proved a big hit during the Rugby League World Cup last year. Despite injury restricting his immediate impact, expect plenty of explosive action once the St Helens man gets going.
Matthew Russell (Warrington) – having gained valuable experience in Australia, Sam Tomkins former understudy returns to England. The 20 year old full-back impressed for Scotland during the World Cup and will be looking to strengthen a team who have finished runners-up for the last two years.
Matt Bowen (Wigan) – hoping to fill the void left by Tomkins departure, Wigan were quick to find a replacement in the form of Australia’s Bowen. With a record tally of 130 tries from 270 appearances for former club the North Queensland Cowboys, there will certainly be plenty of attacking quality for the reigning champions.
Remember to stay with Lovell Rugby throughout the Super League action as we bring you the latest rugby shirts to show your support in. We will also be offering great prizes through our Facebook and Twitter pages, so be sure to visit them.