World Club Series

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World Club Series
Sport Rugby league
Instituted 2015
Ceased 2017
Number of teams 12
Country  Australia
 England (RFL[1])
Series winners England Super League (1st title)
Most titles Australia NRL (2 titles)
Broadcast partner Nine Network
Sky Sports
BBC Sport
Related competitions World Club Challenge
Super League
National Rugby League

The World Club Series was an annual rugby league football competition played between clubs from the NRL (Australia and New Zealand) and the Super League (England and France). The competition culminated with the World Club Challenge, a single match played between the reigning champions of each league.

The World Club Challenge was first contested in 1976 and was expanded to include two invited teams from each league playing a short Series in 2015. The Series was reduced to one invited team from each league in 2017, and suspended (only the usual Challenge was played) in 2018.



The World Club Series was created as an expansion to the World Club Challenge competition which has been played sporadically since it began unofficially in 1976. Games were played on a somewhat ad-hoc basis throughout the 1980s and 1990s before returning to a one-off match between the League champions in 1998.

Between 1998 and 2014 the World Club Challenge was played as an annual fixture at the beginning of each Rugby League season.

2014: Creation[edit]

In September 2014 it was announced that the World Club Challenge would be expanded, with four extra clubs participating in the World Club Series.[2] The first edition took place between 20 and 22 February 2015 and featured three matches, the first and second essentially being two exhibition games and the final game being for the World Club Challenge match between the two respective premiers as in previous years.[3] The first World Club Series was won outright by the Australians with St. George Illawarra Dragons and Brisbane Broncos narrowly beating Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors in the first two games to win the series and South Sydney beating St Helens 39-0 in the World Club Challenge, which was the biggest winning margin in the history of the competition.

2015-2016: Possible Further Expansion[edit]

In 2016 a possible expansion to 8 teams was suggested. This would see two games being played in Australia and two games being played in the UK. The World Club Challenge would be played alternatively between the UK and Australia each year and a new points system would be introduced to determine the series winners: one point would be awarded to the winners of the first four games and two points to the winners of the World Club Challenge.

This expansion ultimately did not eventuate and it remained a six team format in 2015 and 2016.

2017: Contraction[edit]

In 2017, the format was reduced to 4 teams, with the NRL citing tight schedules, distant travel and long seasons as an impediment to their participation in the Series. After the NRL negotiated with the Brisbane Broncos, it was decided that they would represent the NRL in an exhibition match vs Warrington Wolves prior to the usual Challenge game between the Super League Champions Wigan Warriors and Cronulla Sutherland Sharks, maintaining the overall Series concept. 2017 would be Super League's first victory since the series began, with Warrington winning 27-18 against Brisbane,[4] and Wigan beating Cronulla 22-6.[5]

Following the reluctance of Australian teams to travel to England for the 2017 tournament there were similar issues with the 2018 tournament. This coupled with, the 2017 Rugby League World Cup being played in Australia at the end of 2017 meant that the preseason for Australian teams was going to be unusually short ahead of the 2018 season and therefore they did not want to make the trip to England for the 2018 series. The Melbourne Storm (2017 NRL Premiers) in particular were reluctant to travel, meaning the series was in danger of cancellation for the first time since the 1990s as it was the Storm that was playing in the World Club Challenge.

In addition and as part of this trip to Australia, Wigan and Hull would also play two exhibition games against South Sydney Rabbitohs and St George Illawarra Dragons respectively. These were separately arranged fixtures and not considered part of the World Club Series.[6][7]

2018: Return of the World Club Challenge[edit]

In November 2017, it was confirmed that the World Club Challenge would return to a one-game format for the first time since 2014 with Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos travelling to Australia to play NRL Champions Melbourne Storm at AAMI Park in Melbourne. On 16 February 2018, Melbourne Storm were victorious, outscoring Leeds Rhinos by 38 points to 4.

2019: World Club Challenge[edit]

It is not known if and or when an expanded World Club Series will return and the 2019 World Club Challenge will again be a one-game format with NRL Premiership-winners, Sydney Roosters travelling to the UK to play Super League Champions Wigan Warriors at Wigan's DW Stadium on Sunday 17 February 2019 (kick-off 7pm).


Qualification rules in the two league competitions mean that, in theory, teams from four different countries could compete in the competition. English and French teams compete in the Super League and so are eligible to win that competition and qualify for the series. In the NRL, teams from Australia and one team from New Zealand compete and so could win their league to qualify.

Super League[edit]

The two teams from Super League that qualify to play in the World Club Series are:

  • League Leaders
  • Grand Final Winners

If a team wins both Grand Final and League Leaders' Shield then the Grand Final runners up will qualify.


Qualification for the NRL has varied since the World Club series was first instituted in 2015. While the NRL Premiers always play off for the World club Challenge each year, the teams representing the NRL in the other two games have altered from year to year. Normally, the Grand Final Winners, Runners up and Minor Premiers are given first option to play; however, history has shown that it is either invited teams that make up the numbers or teams that are "willing to travel" who take part.


year Winners Score Runners up Venue Attendance
St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra 18-12 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 13,080
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 14-12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan DW Stadium 20,842
South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney 39-0 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 12,576
2016 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney 38-12 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Langtree Park 14,008
Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane 42-12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan DW Stadium 19,103
North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland 38-4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Headingley 19,778
2017 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 27-18 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Halliwell Jones Stadium 12,082
Wigancolours.svg Wigan 22–6 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sutherland DW Stadium 21,011

NOTE: No series in 2018, reverted to a single World Club Challenge match

Club statistics[edit]

Team Wins Years won Runners up Years runner-up
1 Brisbane colours.svg Brisbane Broncos 2 2015, 2016 1 2017
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1 2017 1 2015, 2016
3 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1 2017 1 2015
4 North Queensland colours.svg North Queensland Cowboys 1 2016 0
5 Eastern Suburbs colours.svg Sydney Roosters 1 2016 0
6 South Sydney colours.svg South Sydney Rabbitohs 1 2015 0
7 St. George colours.svg St George Illawarra Dragons 1 2015 0
8 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 0 2 2015, 2016
9 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 0 1 2016
10 Cronulla colours.svg Cronulla Sharks 0 1 2017

Series wins[edit]

Country Series won Years won Matches won
1 Australia NRL 2 2015, 2016 6
2 England Super League 1 2017 2


City/town Stadium Years
1 England Wigan DW Stadium 2015, 2016, 2017
2 England St. Helens Langtree Park 2015, 2016
3 England Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 2015, 2017
4 England Leeds Headingley Carnegie Stadium 2016



Year City Stadium Attendance
2017 Wigan DW Stadium 21,011


Year City Stadium Attendance
2017 Warrington Halliwell Jones Stadium 12,082


Most matches refereed[edit]

Matches Referee Years
=1 2 England Richard Silverwood 2015, 2016
=1 2 England Ben Thaler 2015, 2016
=1 2 England Phil Bentham 2015, 2017
=2 1 Australia Matt Cecchin 2016
=2 1 England Robert Hicks 2017


Period Sponsor Name
2015 none World Club Series
2016-2017 Automobile Dacia Dacia World Club Series


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sky Sports (2 March 2009). "RFL cool on bigger Challenge". BSkyB. Retrieved 16 May 2009.
  2. ^ World Club Series Details Announced - Rugby League Week
  3. ^ Dragons to play in World Club Series -
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ "2018 World Club Challenge: Leeds Rhinos to play Melbourne Storm in Australia". BBC Sport. 13 November 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.
  7. ^ "Super League: Wigan Warriors to face Hull FC in Australia in 2018". BBC Sport. 26 July 2017. Retrieved 12 December 2017.


External links[edit]