The First Utility Super League fixtures for 2016 have been released today, with each of the twelve clubs discovering who they will face at key points throughout the season.
Following one of the most exciting seasons in Super League history in 2015, which saw the League Leaders Shield won with the last play of the game and a sell-out Grand Final at Old Trafford witness Leeds Rhinos win the treble, Super League XXI will kick off with six fixtures over the first weekend of February.
Super League General Manager Blake Solly said: “2015 was one of the best years ever for Super League and I am really looking forward to see if 2016 can be just as exciting. The new league structure is now into its second year and it gives every team the opportunity to create some incredible moments and memories.
“There is so much to look forward to in 2016 for Super League fans. We have three top teams from the NRL coming over to battle three of our top clubs in the World Club Series, a fantastic return to Newcastle for Magic Weekend in May, the Super 8s, the Million Pound Game and, of course, the Grand Final at Old Trafford, all of which I am sure will make for another exciting year.”
Leeds will begin the defence of the title they famously clinched at Old Trafford last week with a home fixture against Warrington Wolves on Thursday February 4 in front of the Sky Sports cameras.
Wigan Warriors, First Utility Super League runners-up for the second year running, get their 2016 season underway with a game at home against the Catalan Dragons on Friday February 5, whilst 2015 Ladbrokes Challenge Cup finalists Hull Kingston Rovers take on Castleford Tigers in one of two fixtures staged on Sunday February 7.
Elsewhere on Friday Hull FC take on Salford Red Devils and St Helens take on the Huddersfield Giants whilst the weekend is rounded off on Sunday evening when the Wakefield Trinity Wildcats host the Widnes Vikings.
Later in February, three of Super League’s top performing clubs of 2015, Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors and St Helens will go head to head with the top three NRL sides from 2015 with Wigan Warriors taking on Brisbane Broncos, Leeds Rhinos taking on the North Queensland Cowboys and St Helens taking on the Sydney Roosters in a rematch of the first ever World Club Challenge.
Other highlights in the domestic fixture schedule include a highly anticipated Easter weekend packed with local derbies including Castleford Tigers v Leeds Rhinos, St Helens v Wigan Warriors and an East Yorkshire derby between Hull KR and Hull FC, with all three games also featuring live on Sky Sports.
Magic Weekend 2016 will take place at St James’ Park, Newcastle, where six Round 15 fixtures will be played on Saturday May 21 and Sunday May 22, including a rematch of the 2015 First Utility Super League Grand Final between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors.
After all 23 rounds of the regular season, the First Utility Super League and the 12-team Kingstone Press Championship will once again split into three separate leagues, the Super 8s, the Qualifiers and Championship Shield.
The pick of the action will once again be screened live on Sky Sports, who will televise around 100 Rugby League games in 2016.
Speaking about the partnership, Blake Solly said: “I am once again delighted that our main broadcast partner Sky Sports will be capturing all the drama and excitement of the 2016 season. The importance of the exposure the sport gets through its partnership with Sky Sports cannot be overstated and the level of coverage in 2015 was once again superb.”
Tickets for the 2016 First Utility Super League Grand Final will be on sale from 9am Monday 19th October at rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk
FIRST UTILITY SUPER LEAGUE KEY DATES 2016
Weekend of 4th-7th – First Utility Super League Round One
Weekend of 19th-21st – World Club Series
Weekend of 24th-28th – Easter Weekend
Weekend of 15th -17th – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Round Five (teams 9th-12th in 2015 season enter)
Weekend of 5th –8th – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Round Six (teams who finished 1st-8th in 2015 season enter)
Weekend of 21st – 22nd – Magic Weekend
Weekend of 23rd – 26th – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Quarter Finals
Weekend of 29th -31st – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Semi Finals
Weekend of 3rd – 7th – Super 8s begin
27th – Ladbrokes Challenge Cup Final
Weekend of 1st-2nd – First Utility Super League Semi Final and Million Pound Game
8th – First Utility Super League Grand Final