Ground: Totally Wicked Stadium
Town: St Helens
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Saints Rugby League
St Helen or simply Saints as they are often better known as, are not only one of the most successful teams of the Super League era but they also have a long and proud history, full of success and trophies that can match most over rugby league teams.
The Saints play in one of rugby league best stadiums at the new Totally Wicked Stadium former Langtree Park) and with their iconic red vee playing kit and their attacking style of play, the Saints have become one of the most recognisable teams in rugby and amongst the most watched.
St Helens have a number of rivalry’s but their biggest and one of the biggest in the sport is between themselves and Wigan Warriors.
Matches between the 2 are known simply as The Derby and it is one of just 2 sporting events in the world to officially given the moniker of The Derby as Lord Derby gave the game use of his name along with the major horse race. This has led to all over matches between rivals, in all sports, becoming known as a derby.
In a similar way, St Helens have a rivalry with the Bradford Bulls and the Leeds Rhinos as during different periods of Super League these 2 West Yorkshire teams have been at the top of the sport in the UK and have been battling with Saints for trophies. Things have of course simmered with the Bulls over recent years but matches against the Leeds Rhinos still have an extra element to them.
St Helens have one of the most iconic playing strips in world Rugby, so much so that the Australian team St George Illawarra Dragons Then the St George Dragons) have copied it and still used it to this day).
Predominantly white, the Saints home kit is finished off with a Red Vee that is across the chest and makes any St Helens home shirt instantly recognisable.
Saints have had 2 grounds that are thought of has been their home throughout their long history. Initially the club played at the City ground where they shared with St Helens Recs. In 1890 the club moved to Knowsley Road and it is this ground where the club spent the majority of their existence and enjoyed the majority of their success.
All in all St Helens RFC spent 120 years at Knowsley Road which became known as the GPW Recruitment Stadium towards the end in a sponsorship deal) and it is still thought of as the clubs spiritual home.
The club sold the ground to help find a new stadium and this led to St Helens having to play ‘on the road’ for the year. A number of local grounds were considered and in the end St Helens played their home matches for the 2011 Super League season at Halton Stadium- the home of the Widnes Vikings.
In 2012 the club moved to their brand new stadium which was initially known as Langtree Park but which has recently become known as ‘The Totally Wicked Stadium’ due to a sponsorship deal.
The former Langtree Park is one of the most impressive grounds to be owned a Rugby League club in the UK, offering a mixture of standing and seating and it has been used for cup matches and internationals.
Saints are one of the oldest Rugby clubs in the world having been founded on the 19th November 1873 by William Douglas Herman at the Fleece Hotel.
Initially known as St Helens Football Club, the clubs first ever game was against Liverpool Royal Infirmary in January 1874 before the club changed it’s name to St Helens Rangers. In 1890 the club moved to the City Ground and in 1895 the club resigned from the RFU Rugby Football Union) to join the breakaway Northern Union nowadays Rugby Football League).
In 1897 the Challenge Cup was launched and the first ever final featured St Helens who played Batley at Headingley but it was the West Yorkshire team that went onto pick up the win.
The club started out as a middle of road side with limited success and they struggled badly during both the First and Second World Wars when they couldn’t get teams together for much this period.
It wasn’t until the arrival of Jim Sullivan as the clubs head coach in 1952 that the club entered its first sustained period of success. The club almost enjoyed instant success as they reached the 1952-53 Challenge Cup but they lost that match before winning the Lancashire League in the same season. In 1953 the club won the Championship in front of 50,000 fans at Maine Road against Halifax and they also won the Lancashire Cup against Wigan in the same year.
Saints picked up their first Challenge Cup win in 1956, gaining revenge over Halifax and in the same year the club inflicted the biggest loss on an Australian touring team as they won 44-2.
Even after enjoying all of this success in the late 1950’s, it is the 1960’s that is thought of as the Golden decade for Red Vee as the club won everything there was to win and on multiple occasions.
The 1970’s was also a successful period for the club as the club became one of the biggest and move successful in World Rugby, leading to an unofficial World Club Challenge match against the Eastern Suburbs in 1976- although they did lose that match 25-2.
The 1980’s and early 1990’s were nowhere near as successful for the club and although they did win silverware during this period, it was their rivals Wigan who became the dominant team in Rugby League towards the end of the winter era of RL.
If the 1960’s was the Golden decade for the club, the Summer era has to be the Golden Era as St Helens became one of the most dominant teams of the early Super League years and to date they are still one of the teams pushing for all of the available trophies and regular feature in finals.
The club won the inaugural Super League trophy, by winning the league before the play-offs were brought in and they also won the 1999 title, their first Grand Final victory. St Helens won both the 2001 and 2007 World Club Challenge to become the best team in the world, interestingly both of these matches were against the Brisbane Broncos.