29 Mar 2020

Where it all began

Where it all began…

Ask most Rugby League fans how and when Rugby League was formed, and you’ll generally get the answer of “1895 at the George Hotel in Huddersfield”

But 101 years later, how did Super League come about? We’ll as it celebrates its 25th season, let us give you a little sporting history lesson….

The 1995/1996 season finished with Wigan claiming their 17th top division title and just a few weeks later a new era of Rugby League launched with the inaugural season of the Super League following an approach by Broadcasters looking to create a new style of competition.

The first season saw the 12 founding teams; Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Halifax, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos (fast-tracked from the second division), Oldham Bears, Paris St Germain (newly formed for Super League), Sheffield Eagles, St Helens, Warrington Wolves, Wigan Warriors and Workington Town compete to be crowned the first ever Super League Champions.

The new Super League competition saw Rugby League move from traditionally being a winter sport in the UK to a new Summer competition and it all started on 29th March 1996 at Charlety Stadium on the outskirts of Paris.

The game kicked-off with all the razzmatazz of a major sporting event including NFL style player entrances, live music, pyrotechnics and of course the voices of Sky Sports duo Eddie and Stevo.

Several familiar names featured for the Eagles in that opening game, including Eagles Head coach Gary Hetherington, a fresh faced 19-year-old Keith Senior (current Sheffield Assistant Coach), Mark Aston (current director and Head Coach of Sheffield Eagles) and current Castleford Tigers back room pair Matt Crowther and Ryan Sheridan.

In front of a crowd of over 17,000 it was former Sheffield Eagles & Featherstone Rovers player, Freddie Banquet who etched his name in the Super League history books that night, when he crossed to score the first ever Super League try. Banquet only spent one season with PSG before returning to England to play for Wakefield Trinity in the 1997 season where he averaged almost a try a game with 16 scores in 18 appearances.

And from that night in Paris, Super League was born.

As with all sport, Super League has been an emotional roller-coaster for fans of every club; the highs of an Easter Weekend win over your rivals to the lows missing out on play-offs or Grand Final glory.

But one thing for certain is that Super League has us all with unrivalled entertainment over the past quarter of a century…

Who can forget the first ever Super League Grand Final in 1998 and Jason Robinson’s try for Wigan, the iconic “Wide to West moment”, Bradford Bulls winning the treble in 2003, Catalans joining Super League in 2006 with a 38-30 win over Wigan, Rob Burrow’s jinking and weaving try in the 2011 Grand Final, Jacob Miller’s long range drop goal at St James’ Park in 2016, Leeds Rhinos treble winning team of 2017?

….we could go on and on with all the great moments Super League has blessed us with, but one thing is for sure there will be plenty more great moments to come once the current situation is over and we can all get back to the terraces and support our clubs and players once again.

Over the coming months the Official Super League digital channels, along with clubs, will be celebrating the great moments, best players, biggest stories from the last 25 seasons of Super League. So keep an eye out and you might just see your favourite moment from the archives.