First wins: How every new side got off the mark in Super League

First wins - Toulouse beat St Helens
Photo: Manuel Blondeau/

With Toulouse picking up their first ever Super League win, we look at how every other promoted club has performed.

It’s the third time St Helens have been the opponents of a newly-promoted side’s first win.

The others were Leigh back in 2017 and Huddersfield in 2003.

Only Wakefield have been beaten first three times by a promoted side – Gateshead in 1999, Hull KR in 2007 and London in 2019.

Castleford, Catalans, Salford and Wigan have all been beaten first twice.

Toulouse are only the third promoted side to register their first win of the season against the reigning champions – the others being Huddersfield in 2003, also against St Helens, and Castleford in 2008 against Leeds.

REPORT: Toulouse 22-20 St Helens: Toulouse shock champions to claim first ever Super League win

Making their mark

A total of 22 sides have joined Super League, either by promotion on the pitch or otherwise, since its first season in 1996.

Just four of those sides have had to wait longer than Toulouse for their first victory – Huddersfield in 1998 (eight), Leigh in 2005 (eight), Crusaders in 2009 (13) and Leigh in 2021 (20) – while Widnes also won their sixth game in 2012.

Salford and Leigh have both joined three times, with the Red Devils remarkably winning their very first game on all three occasions.

The reigning champions have come unstuck against the newly-promoted side on now eight occasions – Salford v St Helens (1997), Gateshead v Wigan (1999), Castleford v Bradford (2006 – draw), Castleford v Leeds (2008), Salford v Leeds (2009), Leigh v Wigan (2017), London v Wigan (2019).

St Helens themselves appear to have developed a habit of losing to the newly-promoted sides too.

They have now lost to the new side on 50% of the 22 occasions, including in 2019 when they lost twice to London Broncos.

The new sides that haven’t beaten them in their first year – Huddersfield (1998), Hull (1998), Widnes (2002), Leigh (2005), Castleford (2006), Hull KR (2007), Celtic (2009), Widnes (2012), Hull KR (2018), Toronto (2020) and Leigh (2021).

Toulouse will be hoping that they won’t follow Leigh (2017) and London (2019) in beating St Helens and still being relegated at the end of the year in 2022.

List of newly-promoted sides’ first wins in a season

1997 Salford R1 4-0 v Castleford (H)
1998 Huddersfield R8 28-6 v Warrington (H)
1998 Hull R1 34-24 v Sheffield (A)
1999 Gateshead R3 24-6 v Wakefield (H)
1999 Wakefield R2 22-10 v Salford (H)
2002 Widnes R2 31-24 v Castleford (A)
2003 Huddersfield R4 36-22 v St Helens (H)
2004 Salford R1 24-12 v Widnes (H)
2005 Leigh R8 24-22 v London (H)
2006 Castleford R3 34-28 v Catalans (H)
2006 Catalans R1 38-30 v Wigan (H)
2007 Hull KR R1 14-9 v Wakefield (H)
2008 Castleford R5 38-20 v Leeds (H)
2009 Celtic Crusaders R13 30-24 v Bradford (A)
2009 Salford R1 28-16 v Celtic (H)
2012 Widnes R6 37-36 v Wigan (H)
2017 Leigh R2 (3) 24-16 v St Helens (H)
2018 Hull KR R11 (3) 23-4 v Catalans (H)
2019 London R1 42-24 v Wakefield (H)
2020 Toronto
2021 Leigh R20 32-22 v Salford (H)
2022 Toulouse R6 22-20 v St Helens (H)
About James Gordon 7308 Articles
Love Rugby League editor. Founded the website back in 2005. Worked with a range of clubs and sponsors during that time. Also commentates for BBC.

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