The Challenge Cup final is almost upon us! Castleford Tigers take on the Leeds Rhinos at Wembley this Saturday for the right to lift one of Rugby League’s most prestigious trophies. Here are 10 things you may not know about the Challenge Cup final…
#10 Wigan are the most successful team
Wigan Warriors hold the record for the most Challenge Cup final wins with 19. Between 1987 and 1995 they won the trophy 8 consecutive times and are the current holders after beating Hull FC last year 16-0.
#9 Leeds and Hull FC have the worst Wembley record
Hull’s defeat last year moved them level with Leeds Rhinos for the title of the most unsuccessful finalists. Whilst the Rhinos have enjoyed plenty of Super League success in recent years, the Challenge Cup is a competition which has evaded many of their star players. Leeds haven’t won the competition since 1999 and have lost 6 finals since then. It’s a run of bad luck they’ll be hoping to turn around on Saturday.
#8 The First Final
The first final in the history of the Cup was between St Helens and Batley in 1897. 56 clubs has entered and the final was watched by over 13000 people at Headingley. St Helens won the match 10-3.
#7 The Lance Todd Trophy
The Lance Todd trophy, named in memory of former New Zealand and Wigan player Lance Todd, is awarded to the man of the match and is selected by members of the Rugby League Writer’s Association. The first winner was Billy Stott of Wakefield in 1946 and more recently Matty Smith of Wigan collected the award last year. Former St Helens legend Sean Long holds the record for winning the accolade 3 times.
#6 The Challenge Cup Plate
In 1997 a second competition, The Challenge Cup Plate, was trialled which saw the teams knocked out in the earlier rounds of the Cup compete. Hull KR beat Hunslet Hawks 60-14 in the final at Wembley but ultimately the Plate did not prove as popular as the main competition.
#5 The Challenge Cup Trophy
The Challenge Cup itself is 36 inches of solid silver and was originally designed in 1897 by Silversmiths ‘Fattorini and sons’ who were simply given the instructions to come up with something that looked prestigious. The original trophy was last awarded to St Helens in the 2001 final, with a second version of the trophy now being presented to the winners.
#4 Biggest Win
Leeds fans will be hearing a lot this week about the 1999 final and how it was the last occasion which they won at Wembley. The day was one Rhinos’ fans shouldn’t forget after a 52-16 win over the London Broncos is still the biggest winning margin in the final’s history.
#3 World Record Attendance
In the 1953/54 final Warrington and Halifax drew 4-4 at Wembley. The replay was arranged a few days later at Odsal in Bradford, but organisers did not foresee how many spectators would be trying to get in to the ground. 102, 569 is the official attendance although it’s believed the figure was more like 120, 000 as Warrington won the replay 8-4.
There have only been 3 final replays in the history of the competition, most recently in 1982 after Widnes and Hull FC drew at Wembley (Hull won the replay at Elland Road 18-9). The RFL has confirmed that if Castleford and Leeds draw on Saturday, the replay will be held at Bramall Lane in Sheffield on the 3rd of September. The two sides drew 24-24 in the Super League last month.
#1 All Roads lead to Wembley
Despite being a predominantly northern sport, the Challenge Cup final was first staged at Wembley Stadium in London in 1929 and then permanently from 1946. Whilst the stadium went under reconstruction in the early 2000s, the final was hosted at Twickenham, Murrayfield and the Millenium Stadium in Cardiff. The first final at the new Wembley Stadium saw St Helens beat Catalan Dragons 30-8 in 2007. Wembley is now ready for the all Yorkshire derby this Saturday.