The most watched rugby league videos on YouTube
YouTube celebrates its 18th birthday this week and rugby league videos have their place on the second biggest website in the world.
More than one billion hours of video are watched each day by more than 2.5 billion users, some of which are lovers of rugby league.
Some sports are now turning to streaming live games free on YouTube in the hope of reaching out to the huge audience on the platform.
That includes those in the French Elite Championship, where games can often be seen on YouTube over the weekend.
We’ve taken a look at some of the most viewed rugby league related videos ever.
10 million views – Sam Walker last tackle play in the NRL
Coming in top with an incredible 10 million views is this opinion-splitting end of game play from Sydney Roosters’ Sam Walker.
With 20 seconds left on the clock against Canterbury Bulldogs and leading 22-16, the Roosters were on the last tackle when Walker received the ball 20 metres out from the Bulldogs line. Instead of continuing the attacking, or kicking, he opted to run 80 metres in the wrong direction to run the clock down, eventually running in to touch as the hooter sounded.
Commentator Andrew Voss remarked live: “I don’t know whether Trent Robinson is too impressed with that!”
It sparked a debate around the NRL, with rules chief Graham Annesley saying it was unusual but didn’t breach any rules.
Some hailed it as a smart, off the cuff play while some complained it could encourage more negative play in the closing stages of games.
8.7 million views – Controversial Grand Final incident
Probably the most infamous moment in a Super League Grand Final ever saw Wigan’s Ben Flower sent off in the opening minutes for attacking St Helens’ Lance Hohaia, including while he lay on the ground.
Wigan went on to lose the Grand Final having entered it as favourites, and Flower received a six-month ban, the longest in the competition’s history for such an incident.
Hohaia retired barely six months later, citing recurring concussion symptoms.
4.7 million views – USA Tomahawks and The Wiggles
It feels a long time ago now, especially given the ongoing struggles for rugby league in America, but back in the 2013 World Cup, the USA Tomahawks captured everyone’s attention.
Popular Australian children’s music group The Wiggles recorded a special song to show support for the Tomahawks, featuring then captain Joseph Paulo.
USA made it to the quarter-finals of that World Cup, where they were beaten by Australia.
The Wiggles group member Anthony Field is a big rugby league fan and personal friend of David Niu, one of the driving forces behind rugby league in the USA.
Another song recorded by The Wiggles, in support of New South Wales in State of Origin, has racked up four million views.
4.1 million views – Best finisher in the NRL?
The new shorts feature on YouTube is ideal for those spectacular try finishes, and this one had a little more context around it.
Brian To’o flew in at the corner off Latrell Mitchell’s pass to mark his State of Origin debut with a try for New South Wales against Queensland.
But To’o infuriated some fans by snubbing Australia later in the year to play for Samoa at the World Cup.
1.5 million views – Konrad Hurrell picks on Sonny Bill Williams?!
Had never seen this one before, but young buck Konrad Hurrell was only in the second season of his NRL career with New Zealand Warriors when he made the questionable decision to pick a fight with Sonny Bill Williams!
Not a great deal happened, though replays showed Sonny Bill not reacting too kindly to contact from Hurrell, who was perhaps fortunate that one of his team mates was able to neutralise the dual-code legend.
1.1 million views – Sam Burgess on Fuifui Moimoi
The tackle that introduced Sam Burgess to the world, when he hammered in to Fuifui Moimoi in a test match for Great Britain against New Zealand.
Burgess was just 18 and making a name for himself at Bradford, and went on to enjoy a storied career in the NRL with South Sydney Rabbitohs, as well as playing rugby union for England and Bath.
This is some 15 years ago now, and is probably one of the most memorable rugby league videos of the YouTube era.
1.1 million views – Incredible war cry
One of our favourite parts of the recent World Cup was witnessing the incredible pre-match war cries, hakas and hymns from the Pacific nations.
They are becoming more and more admired and people love to see them.
This one, from the Maori All Stars and Indigenous All Stars prior to the 2020 NRL season has racked up more than a million views on YouTube.
1 million views – The last time Great Britain beat Australia
The last time Great Britain (or England) beat Australia, YouTube was barely a year old.
That hasn’t stopped the highlights from the game, which GB won 23-12 in Sydney, from racking up one million views.
Willie Mason and Jamie Peacock had a famous flare up and Sean Long was at his mercurial best.
It came after the tourists were pilloried all week in the Australian press, but won thanks to tries from Peacock, Paul Wellens, Lee Gilmour and Gareth Raynor.
Sadly, the GB side virtually ceased to exist the following year and elite international rugby league has perhaps never been the same since.
950k views – Morley sent off
Incredibly, this incident pre-dates even YouTube! Adrian Morley was infamously red carded after just 12 seconds of Great Britain’s first test against Australia back in 2003.
Morley, who was playing in the NRL with Sydney Roosters at the time, hit Robbie Kearns high in the first tackle of the game and was given his marching orders by referee Steve Ganson.
Great Britain went down 22-18 at the JJB Stadium in Wigan.
What are your favourite rugby league videos? Let us know in the comments below.
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