The remarkable record which underlines Lancashire’s dominance of Super League

Aaron Bower
Harry Smith Wigan Warriors Alamy

It’ll be an all-Lancashire event in next month’s Challenge Cup final, as Wigan Warriors take on Warrington Wolves at Wembley.

And the fact it’s two teams from west of the Pennines taking part in the sport’s showpiece event guarantees that the dominance of Lancashire – or teams not in Yorkshire, at least – will continue.

That was picked up on Twitter on Sunday evening, by renowned Wigan Warriors supporter Bilko, who pointed out:

Now, let’s get the elephant out of the room first and foremost. Some people would argue Warrington isn’t ‘Lancashire’ – and even Wigan isn’t. But they’re certainly not Yorkshire, either! And a look back over the period mentioned in that tweet shows what a lean period it’s been for Yorkshire rugby league and how right now, it’s the west side of the Pennines that dominate the sport.

Again, with the caveat that we’re rather bluntly calling some clubs Lancashire when they might not want to be, here’s a look at those last 18 major trophies: and who won them.

Challenge Cup

Leigh Leopards lift the Challenge Cup - 2023
Josh Charnley and his Leigh Leopards team-mates lift the Challenge Cup at Wembley in August 2023

As mentioned, it will be Wigan versus Warrington in next month’s final – and the cup is the one trophy of the last 18 that have been handed out to a team from Yorkshire.

That came during the pandemic, when Leeds Rhinos defeated Salford Red Devils in an empty Wembley Stadium during the peak of Covid-19. Yorkshire teams have lost the last three finals too: Hull KR last year, Huddersfield in 2022 and Castleford in 2021. But this year, there’ll be no Yorkshire presence whatsoever at Wembley.

The last Yorkshire team to win at Wembley in front of a crowd? Hull FC – all the way back in 2017..

2024: Wigan or Warrington
2023: Leigh Leopards
2022: Wigan Warriors
2021: St Helens
2020: Leeds Rhinos
2019: Warrington Wolves

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Super League Grand Final

Matt Peet
Matt Peet with the Super League trophy after Wigan Warriors’ 2023 Grand Final triumph over Catalans Dragons at Old Trafford – Alamy

The theme is eerily similar when it comes to Old Trafford and the Grand Final too – with the last six winners all coming from outside of Yorkshire.

Leeds were the last Yorkshire-based team to win at Old Trafford in 2017 but what’s arguably more incredible is that of the last 12 teams to feature in a Grand Final from 2018 to 2023 only one – Leeds in 2022 – have been from Yorkshire!

2023: Wigan Warriors
2022: St Helens
2021: St Helens
2020: St Helens
2019: St Helens
2018: Wigan Warriors

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League Leader’s Shield

Kristian Woolf James Roby St Helens League Leaders' Shield SWpix
Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

And again, the League Leader’s Shield has traditionally been held on the western side of the Pennines for the last six years – with the exception of 2021, when Catalans Dragons finished on top of the table.

Wigan have finished top twice, in 2020 and last year in 2023, while the Saints have been top in three of the last six seasons. The last Yorkshire team to finish top of Super League was Castleford Tigers all the way back in 2017.

2023: Wigan Warriors
2022: St Helens
2021: Catalans Dragons
2020: Wigan Warriors
2019: St Helens
2018: St Helens

Can any team from Yorkshire end the dominance of Lancashire-based teams when it comes to the Grand Final? It looks somewhat bleak, as things stand, if you’re of a white rose preference!

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