Can you believe it’s been 10 years since Wembley Stadium re-opened for the first time!
There have been celebrations and tributes all week long on social media using the hashtag #Wembley10: and we here at TotalRL love a good hashtag, so we thought we’d get involved.
We’ve picked out our highlights from the short history of rugby league inside the new Wembley so far – hopefully there’s still many, many more memories to be created in the coming years.
The unlikely first winners
Rugby league returned to Wembley in 2007 for the Challenge Cup Final between Catalans and St Helens, a game the Saints won 30-8. So they were the first rugby league winners there, right? Wrong! That honour actually goes to Normanton Freeston School (now Freeston Academy), who beat Castleford High School in the Year 7 Boys Champion Schools Final! Incidentally, the first try was scored by Luke Metcalfe of Castleford High School – although James Roby got the first professional try there!
Heartbreak for England
International rugby league returned to Wembley in 2011, but it’s the 2013 World Cup which holds Wembley’s most notable moment when it comes to the England side. Seemingly on course to reach the final and a date with Australia at Old Trafford, Shaun Johnson broke English hearts by scampering through in the final seconds to dash the hopes of a nation: putting the Kiwis into the final instead.
Lizzie Jones Lights Up Wembley
Potentially the most memorable and heart-warming moment of all. Just months after losing husband Danny during a Keighley game against London Skolars, Lizzie Jones reduced many of the watching audience to tears as she sung a wonderful rendition of Abide With Me prior to the 2015 final between Hull KR and Leeds. Lizzie returned a year later to present the Challenge Cup to the winners, Hull FC, too.
Staying on the 2015 final, and it’s hard to leave out one of Wembley’s finest individual performances in recent years since it re-opened. So many Leeds players were on song that day during the 2015 win against Hull KR, but Tom Briscoe was in incredible form, crossing for five tries and winning the Lance Todd Trophy in the process.
We just couldn’t leave this one out, could we?! The 2016 final between Warrington and Hull FC was an emotional rollercoaster from start to finish – but just as Warrington’s Ben Currie looked certain to score and break Hull hearts at Wembley again, FC hooker Danny Houghton produced one of the most incredible last-ditch tackles ever seen to not only preserve their cushion, but help Hull finally lift their Wembley hoodoo.