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25th March 2020, 15:42 | 125

#RFL125 | This week in Rugby League

#RFL125 | This week in Rugby League

This week in Rugby League history has seen some memorable Challenge Cup semi-finals played over the years. 

On 23rd March 1996, local rivals Bradford Bulls and Leeds Rhinos met in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup with Leeds looking for a third consecutive appearance at Wembley Stadium.

However, it was the Bulls who earned a 28-6 victory at Huddersfield to secure their first Wembley berth since 1973. Jonathan Scales was the star of the show crossing for a hat-trick alongside tries from Matt Calland and Simon Knox. Francis Cummins notched Leeds’ only try of the game. Re-live that game here.

On 29th March 1997, we were treated to a 70-point thriller between St Helens and Salford Red Devils at Wigan’s Central Park. Alan Hunter and Anthony Sullivan both scored hat-tricks for St Helens while a young Keiron Cunningham was also on the scoresheet. 

St Helens would go on to beat Bradford Bulls in the Challenge Cup Final in both 1996 and 1997.

Oldham’s last Challenge Cup Final appearance came in the form of their 1927 victory over Swinton, but they have twice reached the last four of the competition on this week in Rugby League history.

In 1986 they fell to a narrow 18-7 defeat against eventual winners Castleford on March 22nd. Five years later on March 23rd they were again dumped out by eventual winners Wigan, 30-16. 

Wigan have enjoyed many semi-final victories over the years, and they’ve had another two on this week. On 24th March 1984 they prevented York reaching their first Challenge Cup Final for 53 years with a 14-8 victory before they beat Hull KR in 1985 on 23rdMarch 1985.

In terms of finals, there has been one Regal Trophy final held during this week in Rugby League history. Leeds won their first-ever Regal Trophy with a 12-7 victory over Salford at Fartown, Huddersfield. Legendary Leeds flyer John Atkinson grabbed a brace.

Australian legend Darren Lockyer celebrated his 44th Birthday earlier this week and you can read more about the Kangaroos all-time top try-scorer here.

Catalans Dragons full-back Sam Tomkins also celebrated his 32nd Birthday this past week and here are some of his best England tries of all-time.

The architect on French Rugby League Jean Galia was also born this week. For more information, click here.

Born on this day:

March 18: James Cunningham (London Broncos & Ireland), Sam Williams (Wakefield Trinity)

March 19: Tom Briscoe (Leeds Rhinos & England), Apirana Pewhairangi (London Broncos & Ireland)

March 20: Garfield Owen (Former Wales International), Willie Manu (Former Tonga International), Jamahl Lolesi (Former New Zealand International), Adam Blair (New Zealand Warriors & New Zealand), Blake Ferguson (Parramatta Eels and Australia), Tom Olbison (Toronto Wolfpack), Daniel Smith (Castleford Tigers)

March 21: Gus Risman (Former England & Wales International), Andy Bracek (Swinton Lions & Wales), James Lockwood (Featherstone Rovers), Antoni Maria (Hull Kingston Rovers & France), Albert Kelly (Hull FC), Andre Savelio (Hull FC), Daniel Murray (Hull Kingston Rovers)

March 22: Graeme Horne (Doncaster & England), Dom Speakman (Widnes Vikings), Oliver Wilson (Halifax)

March 23: Harry Poole (Former Great Britain International), Suaia Matagi (Huddersfield Giants, New Zealand & Samoa), Sam Tomkins (Catalans Dragons & England), Kyran Johnson (Oldham), Liam Forsyth (Leigh Centurions)

March 24: Darren Lockyer (Former Australia International), Manase Manuokafoa (Widnes Vikings)


Did you know? 

March 18: In 1924, St Helens were paid £240 by the Committee, on the condition that £500 would be gathered and paid back by the 1st September of the same year, in addition to £270 which has already been promised. 

March 19: In 1912, a cup for the Coventry Northern Union Challenge Cup was created on order from the Rugby Football League, giving the rights to make it to Fillan and Sons, for the value of £15. They’ve been known to create other cups such as one for the Wakefield Intermediate League.

March 20: In 1905, Jean Galia was born. He is credited with starting Rugby League in France and was the team’s first-ever captain.

March 21: In 1932, the Manchester Rugby League Conference asked for the ability to sanction matches between 30th July and 30th August. The Committee responded saying that the Byelaws don’t permit ‘Competitive football before the last Saturday in August’ and they weren’t able to change said Byelaw.

March 22: In 1923, the secretary of the Committee was instructed to investigate what would be ‘a suitable material other than wood’ to be used for corner flag posts.

March 23: In 1996, Bradford progressed to their first Challenge Cup Final since 1973 with a 28-6 victory over Leeds in Huddersfield.

March 24: In 1973, Leeds won the Regal Trophy with a 12-7 win over Salford. This was the only time that the final was held in March.