By Richard Cowley, Date:22/2/12
On Friday Night (Saturday morning Australian time) The Melbourne Storm will take on the might of the Super league when they run out at Carnegie Stadium against the Leeds Rhinos.
Since the year 2000 Super League teams have won 8 of 13 games played. The English are always out to prove that the best Super League clubs can match it with the best NRL clubs. This is their way to hit out at critics who contently label the Super League as inferior to the NRL. To the Super League’s credit on 8 out of 13 occasions they have proved this correct. It usually props up the spirits after the national side have fallen short against Australia and New Zealand in the Four Nations series.
From the other side of the World Australian media and punters alike will point to the fact that the Super League season has been underway for a few weeks while the NRL season hasn’t even kicked off. Pre-season mode and match fitness of players are put out there early as possible excuses and the World Club Challenge concept itself is called into question.
Debate rages over weather the concept should be expanded or weather the games should start alternating between Australia and England. (Not sure how that will work if The New Zealand Warriors or the French based Catalans Dragons manage to win their respective competitions). One thing is for sure that the concept needs to change in some way to strengthen credibility and draw in the interest from a wider range of rugby league fans. Maybe just expanding the concept with multiple teams and alternating it between southern and northern hemispheres could do the trick.
On Friday night a Storm will hit Leeds no doubt. If Leeds are prepared it is possible the Storm could become a rain shower and those critics from down under will wheel out every excuse under the sun. If the Storm hits Leeds with a fury causing flood gates to open and levy’s to break then the critics will use it as an excuse to hammer the health of the English game and the intensity of the Super League.
Either way the media exposure Rugby League does gets via the World Club Challenge on both sides of the World is something that must not be taken lightly in the minds of the RFL and ARLC when they look at way of improving the concept for next year. The rivalry between Australia and England has always been a great thing for sports in general. There is no reason why the RFL and ARLC couldn’t leverage this rivalry to make the WCC much bigger then it is today.
WCC – 2013, 22 February – Leeds Rhinos vs. Melbourne Storm Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds, England
Melbourne Storm: Billy Slater, Sisi Waqa, Justin O’Neill, Will Chambers, Mahe Fonua; Gareth Widdop, Cooper Cronk; Ryan Hinchcliffe, Tohu Harris, Ryan Hoffman, Jesse Bromwich, Cameron Smith (c), Bryan Norrie. Res: Brett Finch, Jason Ryles, Siosaia Vave, Lagi Setu, Kenny Bromwich, Junior Moors (two to be omitted).
Leeds Rhinos: Kallum Watkins, Joel Moon, Ryan Hall, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kylie Leuluai, Paul McShane, Jamie Peacock, Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Carl Ablett, Kevin Sinfield (c), Steve Ward, Brett Delaney, Ian Kirke, Chris Clarkson, Mitch Achurch, Richard Moore, Jimmy Keinhorst, Joe Vickery (two to be omitted).
World Cup Challenge Results from 2000
2000, 22 January, Melbourne Storm 44 – St Helens 6, JJB Stadium, Wigan, Crowd:13,394
2001, 26 January, St Helens 20 – Brisbane Broncos 18, Reebok Stadium, Bolton, Crowd:16,041
2002, 25 January, Bradford Bulls 41 – Newcastle Knights 26, Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, Crowd:21,113
2003, 14 February, Sydney Roosters 38 – St Helens 0, Reebok Stadium, Bolton, Crowd:19,807
2004, 13 February, Bradford Bulls 22 – Penrith Panthers 4, Alfred McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield, Crowd:18,962
2005, 4 February, Leeds Rhinos 39 – Bulldogs 32, Elland Road, Leeds, Crowd:37,028
2006, 3 February, Bradford Bulls 30 – Wests Tigers 10, Galpharm Stadium, Huddersfield, Crowd:19,207
2007, 23 February, St Helens 18 – Brisbane Broncos 14, Reebok Stadium, Bolton, Crowd:23,247
2008, 29 February, Leeds Rhinos 11 – Melbourne Storm 4, Elland Road, Leeds, Crowd:33,204
2009, 1 March, Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 28 – Leeds Rhinos 20, Elland Road, Leeds, Crowd:32,569
2010, 28 February, Melbourne Storm 18 – Leeds Rhinos 10, Elland Road, Leeds, Crowd:27,697
2011, 27 February, St George Illawarra Dragons 21 – Wigan Warriors 15, DW Stadium, Wigan, Crowd:24,268
2012, 17 February, Leeds Rhinos 26 – Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles 12, Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds, Crowd:21,062