Ladbrokes is now the proud sponsor of the Challenge Cup and with the first round of fixtures getting underway this weekend there’s no better time to cover the history of this iconic competition.
Read on for all the vital facts on the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup:
Today the Challenge Cup is separated into seven rounds and teams are seeded by their league standing.
The first round features amateur teams, including Armed Forces representative sides and university teams.
These sides are then joined by a Russian team for the second round before three French sides and 21 league sides up to the Championship make up the third round.
The big boys of the Super League then enter in round four before the last 16, quarter final and semi-final rounds deliver two finalists to run out at Wembley Stadium.
History of the trophy
The Challenge Cup was created by Bradford-based silversmiths Fatterini & Sons in 1897. The firm also created football’s FA Cup and charged the RFL £60 for the commission – roughly 30 times the average weekly wage!
When was the Challenge Cup first held?
Rugby League originated in England in 1895 after a split from the Rugby Football Unions and the newly-formed RFL wasted little time in organising a knock-out competition with the first Challenge Cup taking place in the 1896-97 season.
Who won the first Challenge Cup?
The first final saw Batley overcome St Helens in a 10-3 victory at Headingley in front of over 13,000 fans. This victory was followed up by another win the following season, with a third and so-far final win coming in 1901.
Now known as the Batley Bulldogs, the West Yorkshire side currently reside in the Kingstone Press Championship and will feature in the Challenge Cup once again this year.
Most Wins – Team
While Leeds have been a dominant force in terms of reaching recent finals, St Helens were the side to beat in the early 2000s, winning five times between 2001 and 2008 to take their total to 12.
This is blitzed by Wigan’s 19 triumphs though, starting in 1924 and last picking up the trophy in 2013.
Most Wins – Player
With the Warriors such a dominant force in the competition it’s no surprise to see that Mr Wigan – Shaun Edwards – is the most decorated Challenge Cup player of all time.
The Great Britain legend reached 11 finals – 10 with Wigan and one with London Broncos – and was only on the losing side twice, lifting the trophy with Wigan in 1985, 88, 89, 90, 91, 92, 94, 94 and 95!
While the Super League teams are responsible for many of the competition’s iconic moments, York City Knights lay claim to the highest score, beating Northumbria University 132-0 back in 2011.
The 1985 final was recently heralded by Brian Noble as a lasting image, with Aussie duo Peter Sterling and Brett Kenny going head-to-head as Hull and Wigan battled it out. The 1998 final is also mooted as Sheffield Eagles – aided by a memorable Darren Turner try – pulled off arguably the Cup’s biggest shock by beating Wigan.
There are indeed hundreds of everlasting images from the Cup’s history but it is generally accepted – and with good reason – that the below try from Martin Offiah in the 1994 finals stands above the rest.
After reaching six finals since their last win in 1999 Leeds Rhinos finally took the Challenge Cup back to Headingley after defeating Castleford 23-10 in last year’s final – taking their total number of wins to 12.
This Year’s Favourites – Latest Odds
Wigan Warriors – 11/8
St Helens – 13/8
Warrington Wolves– 15/8
Leeds Rhinos – 2/1
Huddersfield Giants– 11/2
Catalan Dragons – 11/52
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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