This is the second part of our series looking back at the 2015 season.
League Express editor Martyn Sadler looks back at the season just gone and picks out the moments we’ll all remember, whether they are big matches, individual accolades or major news stories. This week we consider moments 31 to 40…
40 Broncos’ head to Ealing
In August the Broncos announced that they would move to the Trailfinders Sports Club in Ealing for the 2016 season, leaving The Hive in north London, which they had shared for two seasons with Barnet FC.
The Broncos revealed they have signed a three-year deal to play at the 3,020 capacity venue.
“We feel very strongly that this move will enable us to plan a sustainable long term future for the club,” said Broncos general manager Jason Loubser.
39 Warrington sign Sandow
Warrington Wolves signed Parramatta Eels star Chris Sandow on a two-year deal just before the Super League signing deadline on 24 July after Sandow was granted a release by the Eels.
Sandow had been in dispute with the NRL club, which he joined from Souths in 2012.
“It’ll be good to get away from the Sydney spotlight,” said Sandow, who made his debut for the Wolves in the Super 8s clash against Leeds at Headingley.
The arrival of Sandow meant that Richie Myler, who was not offered a new contract by the Wolves, would join the Catalans Dragons at the end of the season.
38. Wakefield suspend trio
In mid-September Wakefield Trinity Wildcats dropped Kevin Locke, Reece Lyne and Tim Smith after scrum-half Smith was charged with failing to provide a sample for analysis and driving without due care and attention after an incident in Hull earlier that week.
Smith was subsequently found guilty at Beverley Crown Court and was sacked by the club, while Locke left the club without playing for it again.
Fullback Locke left the club without playing for it again, while centre Lyne returned to action later in the month after receiving a fine and a warning about his future conduct.
37 Tigers’ new stadium clears final hurdle
Castleford Tigers’ proposed new 10,000 capacity stadium near the M62 finally got the green light at the end of September.
Wakefield Council had already approved the plan, but in late September the period for any judicial review expired.
The stadium will be just one part of a £135 million retail and country park, and Wakefield Council leader Peter Box said it was “a great day for the town”.
“It’s not just a great day for Castleford Tigers, but a great day for the town of Castleford,” he said.
“It’s going to help with the regeneration of the town, it’s also going to create new jobs and opportunities for local people, so all in all it’s a red letter day.”
36 Oldham win promotion
On 20 September Oldham finally broke their promotion hoodoo, defeating Keighley Cougars 31-20 in front of a record 1,405 crowd at Whitebank in the promotion play-off to finally clinch promotion after losing six out of their previous eight finals at this level.
The Roughyeds finished at the top of the League and finally overcame what many fans had thought was their destiny always to be the bridesmaid, but never the bride.
“You can’t make up for all the hurt and disappointments we’ve had, ” said Roughyeds Chairman Chris Hamilton
“But I don’t want to sound ungrateful because I am so happy at what we’ve done today. No-one can argue about what we’ve achieved this season and that we don’t deserve promotion.”
35 Nightingale’s Test try
The most spectacular try in the England-New Zealand Test series was scored by Kiwi winger Jason Nightingale at Wigan on 14 November in the 36th minute of the game.
It game from a fine Kiwi move downfield, with halfback Kodi Nikorima giving the final pass. England fullback Zak Hardaker moved to tackle Nightingale by the corner post, but the winger jumped over him and touched down spectacularly from a great height. “I got baulked by the ball. It got laid on me and I knew that I wouldn’t have a free run to the line,” said Nightingale afterwards.
“When I know that I don’t have a free run to the line I try to make sure that the ball’s the first thing that hits the ground.”
34 First Summer Bash weekend
The first Summer Bash weekend for the Championship clubs was held at Bloomfield Road, the home of Blackpool FC, on 23rd and 24th May.
Over 15,000 fans packed into Bloomfield Road on a sun-drenched weekend, with seven high-quality games providing great entertainment for those watching on television, as well as inside the ground.
The Summer Bash also included the final of the iPro Sport Cup, with North Wales Crusaders proving to be the Cup Kings of League 1 with a 14-8 success over Swinton Lions at Bloomfield Road saw them lift the trophy.
RFL Chief Executive Nigel Wood said: “Summer Bash has been an event that the whole sport should feel proud of, it has been a fantastic weekend showcasing the Kingstone Press Championship and League 1.
“I would like to thank the fans who turned out in their thousands to create a carnival atmosphere both inside and outside the stadium, they have really embraced the new concept and helped make the event a great success.”
33 Maroons blitz the Blues
The 2015 State of Origin series in Australia was one of the most eagerly awaited series for many years, after New South Wales’ victory in 2014 that had broken a series of eight Queenland wins.
The teams went into the final match of the three-game series in Brisbane tied at one-all, with everyone expecting a tight contest.
But Queensland were far too good on the night, hammering NSW 52-6, with Johnathan Thurston having a blinder, kicking nine goals and being involved in virtually every one of their eight tries.
The Maroons created a new record margin of victory in an Origin fixture.
32 Leigh beat Bradford in Championship battle
One of the most eagerly awaited games of the season was the opening game of the Championship season between Leigh Centurions and Bradford Bulls at Leigh Sports Village.
Leigh won a controversial and thrilling clash 36-24 in front of 7,449 spectators, the Centurions’ highest crowd for a home game at the Leigh Sports Village. But it was a spiteful game, with referee Joe Cobb brandishing a total of six yellow cards and awarded 26 penalties, including sending the Bulls halfback Harry Siejka to the sinbin twice. Two players from each side were subsequently suspended by the RFL, while Bulls coach James Lowes was fined £250 for criticising referee Joe Cobb, while the officials of both clubs were also involved in angry scenes.
31 Chris Leatherbarrow’s death
The Rugby League world was shocked at the beginning of November, when one of the RFL’s most highly rated young referees, Chris Leatherbarrow, died suddenly at his home in St Helens.
Aged just 26, Leatherbarrow was the Championship Referee of the Year in 2013 and had been tipped to reach the very top of the refereeing profession. He had already refereed twelve Super League matches.
“We are all truly shocked and saddened by the news of Chris Leatherbarrow’s untimely death,” said RFL chief Nigel Wood.
“This is a dreadful tragedy and our thoughts and prayers are with Chris’ family, friends and colleagues at this terrible time.”