To football fans, even the mention of rugby is enough to make them lose interest and start thinking about something else. Even those that like rugby will often be pretty set in their ways about which form of the game they enjoy and will be prone to switch off if the other format of the sport is spoken about. Apart from those that are very definitively invested in the world of rugby league, therefore, it takes something pretty special to garner a person’s attention.
It is with that in mind that we’ve decided to take a look at the teams that have managed to win either a double or a treble in rugby league over the years. Rugby league, of course is one of the offshoots that came about when there was a split from the Rugby Football Union in 1895. The split was initially about payments to players, but rugby league evolved its rules in the years that followed with the aim of making it a more entertaining and faster-paced game than rugby union.
How Many Teams Have Won the Double and Treble in Rugby League?
Rugby League’s double has been completed on 19 different occasions by 10 different clubs. In 10 of these seasons the double winner also completed the treble of finishing top of the league, winning the Grand Final and winning the Challenge Cup.
Wigan Warriors have won the most doubles and trebles of any British side, with 7 doubles, 3 of which were a treble winning season.
Defining The Double & The Treble
Let’s start by defining what we’re referring to when it comes to talking about a double and a treble in rugby league. The double is typically thought of as being the Super League Grand Final and the Challenge Cup. For a treble, sides need to win the Challenge Cup, the Grand Final and finish top of the league, taking a clean sweep of all the domestic trophies. As things currently stand, this feat has only been achieved by six teams.
In the world of rugby league, the Super League was launched in 1996. As a consequence, the modern-day treble is better known as being available to the teams that win the Challenge Cup Final, the League Leaders’ Shield and the Super League Grand Final. In terms of the modern era treble, therefore, it has only been won three times. No team has been more successful than Wigan Warriors, who have won the treble on three separate occasions. Interestingly, they haven’t won it in the Super League era.
Originally, the double referred to the winners of both the Rugby Football League Championship and the Challenge Cup. In the 1906/07 season a Championship Final was introduced, thus making the double winners the victors in both the Championship Final and the Challenge Cup Final in the same season. This also allowed for a treble of finishing first in the top league, winning the Championship Final and winning the Challenge Cup Final.
The Double Winners
First things first, let’s explore the teams that have managed to win the double over the years. Though it has been won 19 times since the inception of rugby league, that honour has been shared between ten different sides. Here’s a look at which teams won the Double.
As you can see, there’s little doubt that Wigan Warriors are the dominant force when it comes to winning rugby league doubles. They made history when they won it on six consecutive occasions at the start of the 1990s. There is a degree of debate over whether some of the wins should be included in the list, however. The success of the Warriors in 1992, 1994 and 1995 actually came as part of a treble, with the same being true of Bradford Bulls’ win in 2003, both of Huddersfield Giants’ wins, the Leeds Rhino’s success, plus two of the wins achieved by St Helens.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the list of doubles that have been ‘pure’, in the sense that the clubs involved have only won the two trophies and not a third:
Rugby League Double Only Winners
Even when you remove occasions when they won a treble, you can see that the Wigan Warriors are still the dominant side in British rugby league. Other notable things from the list is the fact that Broughton Rangers, who were the first team to win a double, disbanded in 1955. Who knows if they would have been able to win more had that not occurred. Interestingly, the team that followed Broughton Rangers, Halifax, have also only won one double to date.
There’s also a degree of debate around whether or not Hunslet should be on the list. In the year that they are credited with having won the double, they actually won all four cups available to British rugby league sides. It was only possible to do this between 1907 and 1970, with the four trophies on offer being the First Division Championship, the Challenge Cup, the County League and the County Cup. Huddersfield also managed it in their 1914-1915 campaign, whilst Swinton became the final team to manage it during the 1927-1928 season.
The Treble Winners
We’ve already given you a clue about the teams that have so far managed to win the treble. Even so, it’s worth taking a specific look at their achievement. Here are the teams that have won a treble and when they managed to do so:
Rugby League Treble Winners
It is hardly a surprise to see that Wigan Warriors remain the most successful team on the list when you look at trebles instead of doubles. Even so, they’re only one win in front of the Huddersfield Giants, who won their last treble in 1915 thanks to a win over St Helens in the Challenge Cup Final and Leeds Rhinos in the Championship Final, which came a few weeks after they’d finished top of the league. The Rhinos would win a treble of their own 100 years later.
It is only right to point out that there has been one double winning side and won treble winning team in women’s rugby. The Bradford Bulls won a double in the inaugural season of the Women’s Super League, with the Thatto Crusaders managing a treble the year before as part of the defunct Women’s Rugby League. Thatto Heath Crusaders later rebranded as the women’s team of St Helens.