Category Archive: Super League Rugby

Super League Rugby News

Jun 20

Warrington fight to stay in Super League a year after contesting the Grand Final

Super League is imitating the Premier League; we’re still waiting for rugby league’s Champions Trophy; and State of Origin II is not just an all-Australia affair

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

Panic on the streets of Warrington, panic on the streets of Wigan; Salford, Leeds and Perpignan. Yes, Morrissey saw it coming. Super League clubs are apparently considering a proposal to increase the competition to 13 or 14 teams in 2019, having cut it to 12 just three years ago. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before.

It beggars belief – until you realise the RFL and the clubs themselves are simply terrified of losing another giant of the game to relegation. Bradford was bad enough. Warrington, Catalans or Wigan would be an equal opportunity too far.

Related: Super League could expand to 13 or 14 teams under new proposals

Related: Rugby league players should learn from footballers and start their own union

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/jun/20/rugby-warrington-super-league-grand-final

Jun 19

Super League could expand to 13 or 14 teams under new proposals

• Relegated Hull KR could benefit from mooted expansion from 2018 season
• Odd number of teams would raise questions on Magic Weekend’s future

A proposal which involves increasing the number of teams in Super League to 13, or even 14, is being considered by the Rugby Football League as discussions begin on the format of the sport’s league structure for 2018 and beyond.

Related: Hull make wilting Castleford pay to set up semi-final against Leeds

Related: Sam Tomkins’s drop goal sends Wigan past Warrington in Challenge Cup

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/19/super-league-could-expand-13-14-teams-proposals-rugby-league

Jun 10

Castleford’s Andy Lynch joins Super League 500 club and sets sights on silverware

• Forward will become seventh Super League player to reach 500 appearances
• ‘To bring a trophy back to this club would mean everything to me’

Andy Lynch joins a select club on Sunday. The venerable Castleford prop, who retires at the end of this season, will become the seventh player in the Super League era to reach 500 club appearances and he is in esteemed company.

Lynch, who could yet finish his career with the record for Super League appearances, joins Kevin Sinfield, Jamie Peacock and Leon Pryce in one of the game’s most exclusive groups, yet there is one thing missing.

Related: Albert Kelly inspires depleted Hull to impressive win at Salford

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/10/castleford-andy-lynch-super-league-500-club

Jun 09

Albert Kelly inspires depleted Hull to impressive win at Salford

• Salford 10-34 Hull
• Visitors move into top four despite absence of key players

Hull moved into Super League’s top four with a commanding victory over second-placed Salford on an evening that, given the key personnel missing for the visitors, may well rank as one of their most encouraging of the season. The big names Gareth Ellis, Danny Houghton and Scott Taylor were all missing here yet Hull were still too good.

The effects of a second double-header weekend will linger in the performances of some sides for a good while yet – and you suspect Salford will not be the only side this weekend to look below-par as a result of those demanding excursions.

Related: Rugby league players should learn from footballers and start their own union

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/09/salford-hull-super-league-match-report

Jun 04

Castleford leave it late to edge out St Helens and stretch lead at top

• Castleford 16-12 St Helens
• Late try from Tom Holmes inflicts first defeat on Saints’ new coach

Castleford took another step towards finally securing the title after almost a century of trying with a narrow home victory against St Helens. The win was notable also for the fact that they were without a number of key front-line players.

Daryl Powell, the Tigers’ head coach, made no secret of how, with this third game of a gruelling 10-day period, he would rest several big names to not only make a point to the sport’s schedulers but also to ensure that his Castleford players do not burn out in the long term.

Related: Castleford’s Daryl Powell accuses RFL of neglect over player welfare

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/04/castleford-st-helens-super-league-match-report

Jun 03

Steve Michaels grabs two tries as Hull pile on the misery for Wigan

• Hull FC 39-26 Wigan
• Slumping Warriors have now gone six matches without a victory

It is undoubtedly an exaggeration to suggest Wigan’s season is in crisis just yet, but it is becoming increasingly clear that the reigning Super League champions are running out of excuses and, more importantly, fixtures.

The Warriors have now gone six games without a win after this latest defeat, and while there are still the Super 8s to follow later this summer, the fact Shaun Wane’s side are closer to the bottom four makes their remaining six fixtures before the split essential to remain in touch with the leading pack.

Related: Leeds end gruelling run of matches with gritty win over Leigh

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/03/hull-fc-wigan-warriors-super-league-match-report

Jun 02

Leeds end gruelling run of matches with gritty win over Leigh

• Leeds 22-14 Leigh
• Almost as many penalties as points as fixture congestion hits home

It is at such moments, in the final game of a demanding period which involves playing three times in eight days, that one may learn most about a side. However, in a week which has featured criticism aplenty from coaches and players alike, the most obvious lesson of all was how it is perhaps more important to seek out quality, rather than quantity, if the sport is indeed to undergo a restructuring this winter.

For those arguing that the sport’s stars are playing too often, this was the ideal night to press home their case. If any of the Rugby Football League came along to watch a game which featured almost as many penalties as points, they would have surely found it hard to disagree. One double-header weekend over Easter is congestion enough but another – squeezed in to allow an England pre-season training camp in Dubai which never actually happened – is clearly too much of a strain.

Related: Castleford’s Daryl Powell accuses RFL of neglect over player welfare

Related: Salford’s title push continues with convincing win at Warrington

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/02/leeds-leigh-super-league-match-report

Jun 01

Castleford’s Daryl Powell accuses RFL of neglect over player welfare

• Double-headers show ‘lacking of understanding’ regarding physical toll
• Castleford to protect at least six players by resting them against St Helens

Daryl Powell has accused the Rugby Football League of a “lack of understanding” following Super League’s second double-header round in less than six weeks, claiming the exertions placed on players makes a laughing stock of player welfare.

Castleford beat Widnes and Leigh over the bank holiday to remain top but Powell will make at least six changes for Sunday’s visit of St Helens, insisting he has to protect his players because the sport’s administrators are not. “The RFL are not going to look after the players so I’m going to do it – there’ll be a lot of changes,” Powell said. “We’re hardly halfway through the year and we’ve had two Friday-Monday turnarounds. There’s a lack of understanding from them of what happens on a day-to-day basis.

Related: Widnes Vikings face move out of rugby league heartland if club is sold

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jun/01/castleford-daryl-powell-rfl-player-welfare

May 31

Rugby league players should learn from footballers and start their own union

When speaking about ‘ridiculous’ fixture congestion in Super League, Hull FC’s Mark Minichiello bemoaned the lack of a players’ union. They should start one

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

You would think most folk would quite enjoy two Easters in a month. More chocolate eggs, strange goings on down Lancashire hillsides, the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and another two days off. But there’s the rub. When players and reporters refer to the Whitsun weekend as “a second Easter” they mean Super League clubs playing twice in four days. Strap yourself in for a ferocious backlash.

Speaking before their shock defeat at home to Leigh on Friday, which was followed by another narrow loss in a tempestuous game at Catalans on Monday night, Hull FC second rower Mark Minichiello called it “ridiculous”. Fair enough. Most elements of the season that players don’t like, coaches moan over and pundits waffle about are actually agreed by the clubs’ chief executives. Super League works like that. The club bosses vote for something then sit back and keep schtum while everyone blames the RFL. But this is a little different. The RFL wanted to start Super League a week late to fit in Wayne Bennett’s infamous England training camp in Dubai that ended up being cancelled anyway. They couldn’t push the season deeper into October as half of the players will be off to the World Cup training camps. So “two Easters” it was.

Related: How many kids could name a rugby league player? Fewer than 20 years ago

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/no-helmets-required/2017/may/31/rugby-league-players-footballers-union

May 29

Salford’s title push continues with convincing win at Warrington

• Warrington 10-38 Salford

As this extraordinary Super League season enters its second half it is becoming increasingly evident that Salford are not going to fall away from the title race.

Had it not been for Castleford’s dominance this season, Salford’s transformation into genuine contenders would have been the most eye-catching of all.

Related: Widnes Vikings face move out of rugby league heartland if club is sold

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/29/warrington-salford-super-league-match-report

May 29

Widnes Vikings face move out of rugby league heartland if club is sold

• Super League club set to take advantage of relaxation in rules over location
• Board remains reluctant to sanction departure away from Cheshire home

Widnes Vikings have rejected approaches from a number of investors in non-heartlands areas as they receive interest in their Super League franchise from prospective buyers hoping to make them the first top-flight club to take advantage of a relaxation in the rules surrounding relocation.

The Guardian revealed in March how the Rugby Football League had become increasingly receptive to Super League sides holding talks with potential bidders about selling up and moving elsewhere. In recent weeks the Vikings have received offers from several parties away from the sport’s traditional territories.

Related: Failed Bradford bidder Richard Lamb brands RFL ‘amateurish’

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/29/widnes-vikings-super-league-rfl-franchise-relocation

May 27

Sean O’Loughlin believes Wigan can retain Super League title despite losses

• Champions play Wakefield needing win to boost title hopes
• ‘We’ve got every confidence we’ll be up at the right end come end of the year’

Sean O’Loughlin insists Wigan remain capable of retaining their Super League title despite a run of form that appears to suggest Monday’s game against Wakefield is arguably their most important of the season.

The reigning champions are without a win in their past four games and despite a relatively strong start to the season they now find themselves in mid-table as the regular season enters its final stretch.

Related: Mark Percival’s late try welcomes Justin Holbrook to St Helens with derby win

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/27/sean-oloughlin-wigan-retain-super-league-title-losses

May 26

Matt Parcell shines as Leeds storm to clinical victory over Warrington

• Leeds 40-0 Warrington
• Wolves attacking frailties brutally exposed

There have been many moments already this season to suggest Leeds and Warrington are on different paths – this was perhaps the most conclusive of them all. A year ago, it was Leeds toiling at the wrong end of Super League while Warrington pressed ahead for major honours, finishing with the League Leaders’ Shield and appearances in both major finals.

There is a way to go yet before Leeds can reach any of those milestones, but the annus horribilis that was 2016 is slowly being cast further into the back of everyone’s minds at the Rhinos. This year has been much more like the Leeds of old – and how fitting it was that in their biggest ever Super League victory against Warrington, some of their old guard stole the show.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/26/leeds-warrington-super-league-match-report

May 25

Mark Percival’s late try welcomes Justin Holbrook to St Helens with derby win

• St Helens 22-19 Wigan
• Mark Percival’s second try edges thrilling derby against Wigan

Justin Holbrook could be forgiven for thinking life as a Super League coach is always this easy. There will be tougher times ahead for the new man in charge at St Helens, but this has been quite the seamless transition for the Australian as he begins the sizeable task of reviving the Saints’ fortunes.

Holbrook watched on last week as his new side produced the standout performance of Magic Weekend, beating Hull FC 45-0. His first official match could not have been much tougher – the rip-roarer that is rugby league’s greatest derby, St Helens against Wigan.

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/25/st-helens-wigan-rugby-league-super-league-match-report

May 21

Castleford put on stylish show to beat Leeds during Magic Weekend

• Catalans 10-18 Huddersfield; Leigh 22-36 Salford; Castleford 29-18 Leeds
• Greg Eden scored a second-half hat-trick in a 17-minute spell

The schedulers have often got it wrong when it comes to building up to a grand finale at Magic Weekend. At times the sport’s annual on-the-road jamboree has ended with a whimper but here five very different portions of hors d’oeuvres set the tone for not only an enthralling main course but the team everyone in rugby league wants to see right now.

If any side have deserved the platform and backdrop St James’ Park provides for the Magic Weekend, it is Castleford. They have led the way since the start this year, have looked irrepressible for large periods of it and, perhaps most tellingly of all for a side with championship aspirations, are capable of winning in different ways.

Related: Storm and Vixens back on top, and more: Australia sportwatch – as it happened

Related: Sports quiz of the week: Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and King Arthur

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/21/castleford-leeds-magic-weekend-

May 20

Magic Weekend roundup: St Helens pull one out the hat to stun Hull FC

• Hull FC 0-45 St Helens; Widnes 12-34 Wakefield
• Wigan 24-24 Warrington

If this is to be the final Magic Weekend in Newcastle, then all the signs point to the event going out on a high. There have been no shortage of upsets and standout moments in the 11-year history of rugby league’s annual on-the-road round and the opening day of the 2017 event had a heartening mix of everything.

The middle salvo of an encouraging first act to the weekend offered up one of the event’s most surprising results in recent years. Seven days ago, St Helens would have been forgiven for dreading the prospect of facing second-placed Hull here, but with their new coach, Justin Holbrook, taking his place in the stands for the first time, one always suspected the Saints would raise their game – although surely not to this level.

Related: Super League’s Magic Weekend transcends what happens on the field | Aaron Bower

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Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/may/20/super-league-magic-weekend-roundup

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