The stories that made Rugby League headlines in 2013

Paul Sculthorpe is awarded an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List.

Leeds and England captain Kevin Sinfield wins the League Express Readers’ Poll as the Player of the Year for 2012.

The arrival of Marwan Koukash in January as the new owner and saviour of Salford City Reds.

The RFL launched its new ‘Extraordinary Rugby’ marketing campaign in January.

Tetley’s are confirmed as the new sponsor of the Challenge Cup.

Marwan Koukash. ©RLphotos
Marwan Koukash. ©RLphotos

RFL chief executive Nigel Wood claims at the competition’s launch that the 2013 Super League season will be remembered as the most important and successful year in the competition’s history, while claiming that more commercial revenue will flow into the sport in 2013 than ever before.

Meanwhile the RFL rejects claims in a BBC television programme that Super League is on the edge of a financial abyss, with a combined indebtedness of more than £60 million.

Brian Barwick, a former chief executive of the Football Association and a former Head of Sport at the BBC, is appointed to a new part-time role as the new Chairman of the RFL, with his duties set to commence on April 1st.

On the same day former banker Dave Smith begins his new job as the new chief executive of the NRL.

Widnes Vikings sign Gareth Hock on a year’s loan from Wigan.

Dave Smith. ©ActionPhotographics
Dave Smith. ©ActionPhotographics

Championship clubs reject a proposal to copy Super League by introducing ClubCall to their play-offs.

Manchester Canalsiders become the world’s first Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual Rugby League club.

Huddersfield Giants shock St Helens 40-4 in the opening game of the Super League season at Langtree Park.

Gareth Ellis injures his foot in the warm-up to his proposed debut for Hull FC at Leeds in the opening game of the season. He finally makes his debut on 3 May against London Broncos and later announces his retirement from international Rugby League.

The Australian government claims at a press conference in February that there are major problems with the use of illegal substances in Australian sport, as well as a threat from criminal organisations trying to muscle in to corrupt sport for the purpose of gambling.

The RFL clarifies the dual-registration rules, as Swinton Lions defend their apparent reliance on Warrington players.

Wakefield coach Richard Agar is appointed as the new coach of France.

Richard Agar. ©RLphotos
Richard Agar. ©RLphotos

The Championship clubs decide to move the Northern Rail Cup Final from Blackpool to Halifax, with the Championship Grand Final set for Leigh. The RFL dismisses fears that those two clubs could have an advantage if they reach the respective finals.

Melbourne Storm win the World Club Challenge by defeating Leeds, and their coach Craig Bellamy reveals that their tactics were primarily aimed at nullifying the impact of Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield.

The RFL follows the example of the NRL in Australia and makes the shoulder charge illegal.

Salford City Reds sack their coach Phil Veivers in early March, with Alan Hunte taking temporary charge.

Hemel Stags, Oxford and the University of Gloucestershire All Golds make their competitive debuts in Championship One.

Huddersfield’s Danny Brough is not selected in England’s Elite Training Squad that is revealed by England coach Steve McNamara in March.

Danny Brough. ©RLphotos
Danny Brough. ©RLphotos

Bradford Bulls star Adrian Purtell makes his comeback against Hull KR, after having suffered a heart attack the previous year following the Magic Weekend.

In a blast of Arctic weather in March, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats have to twice postpone their home game against Leeds Rhinos.

Warrington prop forward Paul Wood reveals he was suffering from depression during the close-season and was tempted to take an overdose.

Castleford Tigers part company with their coach Ian Millward

NRL club Parramatta sign Wigan stars Lee Mossop and Gareth Hock, although Hock later pulls out of the deal.

Gareth Hock. ©RLphotos
Gareth Hock. ©RLphotos

Salford City Reds unveil Brian Noble as their new coach.

Australia beats New Zealand 32-12 in the Anzac Test.

Jonathan Wall, the Controller of BBC Radio 5 Live, apologises to Rugby League supporters for the shambolic Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round draw that is made on the Richard Bacon Show.

Wigan announce that they have signed Welsh rugby union international Andy Powell.

Wigan star Pat Richards announces that he will return to the NRL with Wests Tigers in 2014.

Castleford Tigers reveal that Daryl Powell will become the club’s new coach in May, joining them from Featherstone Rovers.

The RFL extends Bradford Bulls’ licence by a further 12 months, and Bulls legend Robbie Hunter-Paul returns to the club, initially as deputy director and later as chief executive.

The RFL announces that it is to propose radical changes to the structure of Super League and the Championship, with twelve clubs in each competition that then become three leagues of eight, with a seamless system of promotion and relegation.

Hull KR are seething after the Magic Weekend, when video-referee Steve Ganson erroneously awards a late try to Hull FC to give them a narrow victory. Robins Chairman Neil Hudgell rejects the RFL’s “tokenistic” apology.

England defeat the Exiles 30-10 at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

London Broncos sign NRL star Jamie Soward from St George Illawarra Dragons on a short-term contract.

Adrian Morley signs a one-year deal to join Salford City Reds in 2014.

Adrian Morley. ©RLphotos
Adrian Morley. ©RLphotos

David Oxley CBE is elected as the President of the RFL, 21 years after he retired as Chief Executive of Rugby League’s governing body.

James Roby’s season is disrupted when he suffers a second ankle injury in July.

A Championship One encounter between Gloucester and Hemel is called when Match Commissioner Peter Taberner decided that the paramedic on duty did not meet the RFL’s eligibility rules for medical cover.

Australia enjoy great success in the Festival of World Cups, winning the Armed Forces World Cup, the Women’s World Cup, the Student World Cup and the Police World Cup. France prevent the Australians from making a clean sweep by winning the Wheelchair World Cup.

Wakefield Chairman Andrew Glover reassures supporters that the club won’t go out of business, following a winding-up order brought by HMRC in July.

Leigh Centurions defeat Sheffield Eagles 43-28 to win the Northern Rail Cup, while North Wales Crusaders defeat London Skolars to win the Northern Rail Bowl.

Keith Mason wins a court judgement and compensation for Huddersfield Giants for wrongful dismissal, after his contract was terminated for an obscene photo that appeared on his Twitter account.

Danny Brough signs a new five-year contract with Huddersfield Giants.

Former Leeds coach Graham Murray dies in Australia.

Kevin Sinfield and Adrian Morley both make their 500th career appearances.

St Helens coach Nathan Brown criticises the RFL for what he sees as its unwillingness to protect some of the key players in the game, following the latest concussion suffered by Saints halfback Gareth O’Brien in the match against Catalan Dragons.

London Broncos have hit the headlines recently due to their financial woes. ©RLphotos
London Broncos have hit the headlines recently due to their financial woes. ©RLphotos

The RFL rejects calls for a specifically English anthem other than ‘God Save the Queen’ to be played before England’s World Cup games, as proposed by Leeds North West MP Greg Mulholland.

Tony Colquitt, the former chief executive of St Helens now a director of Rhino Rugby, hits back at criticism of the Rhino rugby ball from players and coaches.

London Broncos play their final home game at the Twickenham Stoop and pay tribute to eight players who are leaving the club at the end of the season. They go down 12-26 against Huddersfield.

Widnes Vikings threaten a lifetime ban on any supporter found to have been involved in crowd trouble in their away game at Warrington, their third successive away game in which there has been trouble on the terraces.

Wigan win the Challenge Cup at Wembley, defeating Hull FC 16-0, with coach Shaun Wane earning a contract extension to the end of 2015.

North Wales Crusaders win automatic promotion to the Championship by finishing at the top of Championship One.

North Wales Crusaders celebrating their success. ©RLphotos

The Burgess brothers make Australian Rugby League history when they became the first four brothers to play in the same Premiership match in more than a century, all of them turning out for South Sydney against Wests Tigers.

Huddersfield Giants secure the League Leaders’ Shield with a 40-0 victory over Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.

Three-quarters of Super League stars would consider leaving for the NRL or rugby union, according to a groundbreaking poll conducted by Rugby League World magazine and players association 1eagu3.

Sheffield Eagles move out of the Don Valley Stadium, which will be demolished, and back to their original home at the Owlerton Stadium.

York City Knights and Hunslet Hawks suffer relegation from the Championship to Championship One in 2014.

Danny Brough becomes the first player to win the Albert Goldthorpe Medal twice, while he also wins the Man of Steel award.

Hull FC’s Tom Lineham wins the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year Medal, while his centre partner Ben Crooks is voted the Super League Young Player of the Year.

Australian legend Steve Menzies, the oldest man in Super League, plays his final game of professional Rugby League at Hull as the Catalan Dragons go down 14-4 in the elimination play-off.

Hull FC coach Peter Gentle is sacked, following his club’s 76-18 play-off defeat at Huddersfield Giants.

Danny Brough is confirmed as the captain of Scotland for the World Cup.


Sheffield Eagles become the first side to win back-to-back Championship Grand Finals.

Rochdale Hornets win promotion to the Championship, beating Oldham 32-18 in the Championship One Grand Final. It is their first trophy since 1922.

Wigan win the Super League Grand Final, beating Warrington 30-16 after coming back from a 16-2 deficit. They reveal that they will play the World Club Challenge against NRL Premiers Sydney Roosters in Australia.

England coach Steve McNamara reveals his World Cup squad. It will be captained by Kevin Sinfield and includes Gareth Hock, to some people’s surprise. But McNamara insists that all the players, including Hock, are aware of how important discipline will be throughout the tournament.

Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan leads a revolt against the RFL’s re-structuring proposals, with Lenagan insisting that the RFL should agree to reorganise the governance and finances of Super League before the clubs will agree to any changes.

New Zealand selectors drop Tohu Harris from their World Cup squad to accommodate Sonny Bill Williams, when Williams changes his mind about wanting to play in the tournament.

Sonny Bill Williams. ©RLphotos
Sonny Bill Williams. ©RLphotos

England suffer a shock 14-15 defeat to Italy in a World Cup warm-up game. Coach Steve McNamara subsequently kicks Gareth Hock out of his squad, and disciplines three other players by not selecting them for the World Cup opener against Australia, for flouting an alcohol ban.

Garry Schofield, Mick Sullivan, Martin Offiah and Lewis Jones are inducted into the RFL Hall of Fame.

England suffer a 28-20 defeat to Australia in the opening game of the World Cup in Cardiff.

France draw 17,518 spectators against New Zealand at Avignon’s Parc des Sports, the biggest crowd for a Rugby League international match in France for over forty years.

Lee Briers and Shaun Briscoe both announce their retirement from playing the game.

Lee Briers was forced to retire from Rugby League with an unfortunate neck injury. ©RLphotos
Lee Briers was forced to retire from Rugby League with an unfortunate neck injury. ©RLphotos

Wigan sign former Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year John Bateman from Bradford Bulls on a three-year contract.

After a seven-year struggle against cancer, the iconic Steve Prescott dies shortly before his 40th birthday. A petition is started to name the Man of Steel award in his honour.

The RFL cuts its funding to the Home Nations other than England, but insists they can still prosper.

Terry Fogerty, the first winner of the Harry Sunderland Trophy in 1965, passes away at the age of 69.

Jarryd Hayne and Brett Morris score a World Cup record-equalling four tries each as Australia thump the USA 62-0 to go into the World Cup semi-finals.

England suffer an agonising 18-20 World Cup semi-final defeat to New Zealand, with a late Shaun Johnson try winning it for the Kiwis. Australia beat Fiji 64-0 in the other semi-final.

Sonny Bill Williams is voted the Rugby League International Federation Player of the Year.

Australia are far too strong for New Zealand in the World Cup Final, winning the trophy with a 34-2 scoreline at Old Trafford.

Australia lifting the World Cup. ©RLphotos
Australia lifting the World Cup. ©RLphotos

Sonny Bill Williams, Sam Burgess, Danny Brough, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith are all shortlisted for the 2013 Golden Boot.

Bradford Bulls players reject a 10 per cent pay cut to help ameliorate the club’s financial problems.

London Broncos are rescued from administration with a move to a new home at Barnet’s The Hive.

England coach Steve McNamara reveals that he will take up a new role in 2014 as assistant coach at the NRL’s Sydney Roosters, while retaining the England job in a part-time capacity.

Bradford Bulls’ three directors Mark Moore, Andrew Calvert and Ian Watt all resign from their posts, after the sale of the club from Omar Khan to Moore and Ryan Whitcut fails to go through, with Khan resorting to legal action.

Warrington coach Tony Smith fears for the future of the British game unless it develops a structure to accommodate future Super League players after the age of 19, claiming that the current system isn’t working.