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6th May 2020, 11:23 | 125

#RFL125 | This week in Rugby League

#RFL125 | This week in Rugby League

The first week of May has seen number of Challenge Cup Finals take place as week take a look at this week in Rugby League history.

On 1st May 1948, Wigan beat Bradford Northern 8-3 in the Challenge Cup Final and became the first-ever team to be handed the trophy by a reigning monarch as King George VI presented the trophy to Captain Joe Egan. The game was played in front of a then record crowd of 91,465 spectators.

This record would be surpassed in 1954 as a World Record crowd of 102,575 fans packed into Odsal Stadium to watch the Challenge Cup Final Replay between Warrington and Halifax. Warrington beat Halifax 8-4 while the attendance record stood up until 1999 while remaining a record for a Rugby League fixture in the Northern Hemisphere.

In 1946, the Lance Todd Trophy – the accolade for a Man of the Match performance in the Challenge Cup Final – was awarded for the first time. Wakefield Trinity centre Billy Stott became the first-ever recipient following his sides narrow 13-12 victory over Wigan. The 1946 Final was also the first to be played at Wembley Stadium since 1939 due to the Second World War. 

Widnes have enjoyed the date of May 5th over the years having twice lifted the Challenge Cup on this day. In 1979, they overcame Wakefield Trinity 12-3 at Wembley Stadium before exactly six years later beating Wigan 19-8 in the Final.

In the three following seasons Wigan, Castleford and Halifax would all lift the Challenge Cup in the first week of May. Wigan beat Hull FC 28-24 in what is widely regarded as the greatest final ever on May 4th 1985, Castleford earned a narrow 15-14 win over Hull Kingston Rovers on May 3rd 1986 before Halifax edged out St Helens 19-18 on May 2nd 1987.

The most recent Challenge Cup Finals to have taken place in the opening week of May were in 1998 and 1999.

The 1998 Challenge Cup Final saw the biggest Final upset in the competition’s illustrious history as Sheffield Eagles topple Wigan Warriors – who were 1-14 favourites – 17-8, with half-back Mark Aston being awarded the Lance Todd Trophy. 

A year later and London Broncos were looking to emulate the Eagles’ effort however they fell to a convincing 52-16 defeat at the hands of Leeds Rhinos with Leroy Rivett becoming the first-ever player to score four tries in a Challenge Cup Final, and claiming the Lance Todd Trophy in the process. 

Did you know?

April 29: In 1995, Wigan Warriors won the Challenge Cup Final for a 16th time with their 30-10 defeat of Leeds Rhinos at Wembley Stadium. The win marked a record eighth consecutive Wembley triumph.

April 30: In 1946, the ‘Indomitables’ Great Britain Rugby League Lions team landed at Fremantle, Australia, for their highly successful tour. They would become the first and only Great Britain Rugby League Lions team to go unbeaten against the Kangaroos in a Test Series played Down Under.

May 1: In 1948, King George VI became the first reigning monarch to attend the Challenge Cup Final. The King presented the trophy to Wigan Warriors Captain Joe Egan after an 8-3 victory over Bradford Bulls watched by a then World Record crowd of 91,465. 

May 2: In 1996, Sheffield Eagles caused the biggest upset in Challenge Cup Final history by defeating 1-14 favourites Wigan Warriors 17-8 at Wembley Stadium. 

May 3: In 2015, Danny Jones collapsed and passed away from an undiagnosed heart condition while playing for Keighley Cougars at London Skolars. The Danny Jones Defibrillator Fund set up in his name is now protecting thousands of Rugby League players of all ages. 

May 4: In 1946, the Lance Todd Trophy was awarded for a Man of the Match performance in the Challenge Cup Final for the first time. Billy Stott received the award for his efforts in Wakefield Trinity’s victory over Wigan.

May 5: In 2007, the first-ever round of Magic Weekend fixtures took place at the Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. Harlequins earned a 28-32 victory over Catalans Dragons before Hull Kingston Rovers edged out City rivals Hull FC 10-14 and St Helens beat Wigan Warriors 34-18. 

Born on this Day: 

April 29: Dean Bell (Former New Zealand International), Mark Percival (St Helens and England), Calum Turner (Featherstone Rovers)

April 30: Roy Powell (Former Great Britain International), Morgan Smith (London Broncos), Josh Thewlis (Warrington Wolves) 

May 1: Scott Grix (Halifax and Ireland)

May 2: Oliver Wilkes (Former Scotland International), Michael Knowles (Dewsbury Rams), James Bell (Toulouse Olympique and Scotland)

May 3: Daniel Anderson (Former St Helens Head Coach), Gareth Ellis (Hull FC, England and Great Britain), Jesse Bromwich (New Zealand International), Lama Tasi (Warrington Wolves and Samoa), Ben Austin (Swinton Lions), Jose Kenga (Swinton Lions) 

May 4: Neil Fox (Former England and Great Britain International), Sonny Nickle (Former Great Britain International), Lesley Vainikolo (Former New Zealand International), Cain Southernwood (York City Knights) 

May 5: Jon Roper (Former England International), John Wilshere (Former Papua New Guinea International), Corey Parker (Former Australia International)