The Rob Burrow Award

7 Feb 2024

The Rob Burrow Award

As the countdown continues to the 2024 Betfred Super League season, Rugby League Commercial and the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association today announce that the Player of the Match in the Grand Final at Old Trafford on October 12 will receive the first Rob Burrow Award.

The Award will replace the Harry Sunderland Trophy, which has been presented to the Player of the Match in the previous 26 Grand Finals since 1998 - having been introduced in 1965, and previously presented to the Man of the Match in Championship and Premiership Finals.

Rob Burrow, the former Leeds Rhinos, England and Great Britain scrum half who was awarded the CBE in the King's New Year's Honours for services to Motor Neurone Disease Awareness, became the first player to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy as the outstanding performer in two Super League Grand Finals.

He was recognised in 2007 and again in 2011, when he scored one of the most spectacular and iconic tries in Grand Final history in the Rhinos' 32-16 win against St Helens - and became the first player to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy on a landslide, earning all 37 recorded votes from the attending members of the RLWBA.

Rob Burrow is one of only three players to have won the Harry Sunderland Trophy twice in Grand Finals.

The others are Kevin Sinfield CBE, his former Leeds Rhinos captain and now fellow MND campaigner; and Danny McGuire, his long-term Rhinos half-back partner.

Sinfield and McGuire have been invited to present the first Rob Burrow Award at Old Trafford on October 12, in recognition of their shared achievements.

Trevor Hunt, the Chair of the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association, who is currently serving at the Vice President of the Rugby Football League, said:

"After long and serious consideration, we believe the time is now right to introduce a new award for the Player of the Match in the Super League Grand Final - and I am certain that Rugby League players and supporters will agree that the name of Rob Burrow is a fitting one to recognise.

"He has been one of the most popular and successful players in the three decades since the Super League was formed in 1996, and made his own history at Old Trafford as the first man to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy in two Grand Finals - setting a never to be beaten record of winning every single vote for his brilliant performance for Leeds against St Helens in 2011.  

"Our predecessors celebrated the contribution made by Harry Sunderland to Rugby League in this country when they introduced the Harry Sunderland Trophy for the 1965 Championship Final, following his death in Manchester in 1964.

"After it was awarded to the Man of the Match in nine Championship Finals - the last of them to Mike Stephenson of Dewsbury in 1973 - the Harry Sunderland Trophy was transferred to the end-of-season Premiership competition from 1974 to 1997, with Andy Farrell winning the last two following his performances for Wigan.

"The Harry Sunderland Trophy was then transferred to the Grand Final for the Man of the Match Award winner. Since the introduction of the Play-Offs and the Grand Final to determine the Super League champions in 1998, there have been suggestions that we should recognise an outstanding player of the Super League era. 

"We believe that now is the right time, to make a change that brings the award recognition into the new era, and Rob Burrow is the right man." 

Rhodri Jones, the Managing Director of Rugby League Commercial, said:

"It is an honour to introduce the Rob Burrow Award for the outstanding performer in the Super League Grand Final. Rob has transcended Rugby League, both with the skill, speed and courage he showed on the field - most memorably with the Old Trafford performances with which he became the first player to win the Harry Sunderland Trophy in two Grand Finals - and more recently with his inspirational response having been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease. Today's announcement is a show of our gratitude to Rob for being the player he was, and a sign of Rugby League's support to him and his family in the battle against MND."

RL Commercial have commissioned a new award, which will be unveiled at the start of the 2024 Betfred Super League Play-Offs in September.

The winner of Rob Burrow Award will be determined in the same way as the Harry Sunderland Trophy, through a poll of members of the RLWBA attending the Grand Final.