We’ve picked out 10 memorable moments of the 2020 rugby league season. See what made our list below, with plenty of video clips of some of the iconic incidents of this year
By Sky Sports Rugby League
Last Updated: 24/12/20 2:05pm
It has been a year like no other, but rugby league has still thrown up plenty of memorable moments throughout 2020.
We’ve gone back through the past 12 months and pulled together a list of 10 of those, spanning the full range of the celebratory, the jaw-dropping, the controversial and the heart-warming.
You can check out our selections below and relieve them with video clips as well…
Super League Super Tries 2020
December 29, 2020, 9:30am
10. Happy 125th anniversary, rugby league!
The celebrations may have been somewhat more muted than originally planned due to the Covid-19 pandemic, but on August 29 the sport marked 125 years since 22 clubs broke away from the Rugby Football Union to form what is now the Rugby Football League. We delved into the archives to dig out Eddie and Stevo’s re-enactment of the birth of rugby league, along with getting some insights from historian Professor Tony Collins on the Golden Point Podcast.
9. Farewell to some greats
This year was one that saw several icons decide to hang up their boots, not least of all Sean O’Loughlin as the former England captain brought to an end a stellar 19-year career. There was no fairy-tale finish for him though as Wigan Warriors lost the Super League Grand Final to St Helens, but that did mean James Graham went out on a high. Elsewhere Hull FC’s Gareth Ellis retired for the second time and Melbourne Storm’s NRL Grand Final success meant Cameron Smith will go out a champion if he does decide to retire.
8. Last game before lockdown
Mid-March seems like an awfully long time ago now but cast your mind back to just before lockdown when sporting events were being cancelled as the Covid-19 pandemic took hold. Super League kept going for as long as it could and was the centre of attention on Sunday, March 15 when Castleford Tigers took on St Helens. With no Goals on Sunday, football pundit Chris Kamara joined the Sky Sports team for the match which saw Cas win 28-14. The following day the season was suspended and did not restart until August, but more on that in a bit…
7. Big-name and controversial signings
This year saw global rugby icon Sonny Bill Williams what-turned-out-to-be fleetingly grace the Super League stage as part of the Toronto Wolfpack team, while Warrington Wolves announced they had lured Australian great Greg Inglis out of retirement for next year. But the one which really drew attention and controversy in equal measure was Israel Folau joining Catalans Dragons. On the pitch though, the Australian made a big impact, scoring a try on his debut against Castleford and helping the French club reach the Super League play-off semi-finals.
6. Super League celebrates Black History Month
Super League embraced support for the Black Lives Matter movement from the moment the 2020 season resumed in August and went further by dedicating an entire round of fixtures to celebrating the contribution of black players throughout rugby league’s history in October. The stories of Billy Boston, Jason Robinson, Martin Offiah, Henderson Gill, Des Drummond, Johnny Freeman, Ellery Hanley, Colin Dixon and Roy Francis were all covered, as was Great Britain’s first black captain and Rugby League World Cup hero Clive Sullivan.
5. Gale grabs comeback win
After being suspended for four months, Super League roared back into action on Sunday, August 2 with a behind-closed-doors double-header at Headingley. The first match of the day saw St Helens storm to a 34-6 win over Catalans, but the second encounter between Huddersfield Giants and Leeds Rhinos was a thriller. Trailing 26-6 with 15 minutes to go and a man in the sin-bin, tries from Luke Gale, Luke Briscoe and Alex Mellor saw Leeds force golden point extra-time, with Gale slotting over the winning drop goal to snatch victory.
4. Radford’s sacking announced live on air
Hull FC made a blistering start to the 2020 season with a 30-4 win away to Leeds and a derby triumph against Hull Kingston Rovers, but by the time they played Warrington at home on Thursday, March 12 results had been more mixed. A 38-4 defeat to the Wolves ultimately cost head coach Lee Radford his job, a decision which was announced live on Sky Sports in the immediate aftermath when Black and Whites chairman Adam Pearson attended the post-match interview with reporter Jenna Brooks and revealed the decision he had taken.
3. Welsby’s Grand Final winner
The 2020 Super League Grand Final will go down in history as the final without fans due to being played behind closed doors at Hull’s KCOM Stadium, but it will perhaps be more remembered for the incredible finish, the like of which no other has seen. With golden point extra-time looming, St Helens launched one last attack and got into position for Tommy Makinson to launch a drop goal. It hit the posts but bounced perfectly for 19-year-old Jack Welsby to dive on it in-goal as the hooter sounded, clinching an 8-4 win over Wigan and seeing the teenager write his name in history.
2. Burrow and friends reunited
The news which broke late last year of Rob Burrow being diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 37 saw the rugby league family, as well as the wider sporting world, rally around the former Leeds Rhinos star. The gestures of support included former team-mate Jamie Jones-Buchanan offer to make his testimonial against old rivals Bradford Bulls a joint fundraiser for Burrow, with a full house Headingley for the pre-season clash. Burrow was joined on the field in the final 10 minutes by Leeds greats like Jones-Buchanan, Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire and Kyle Leuluai for one last time in what was an emotionally charged day.
1. Sinfield’s marathon effort
There have been so many different fundraising efforts to support Burrow’s fight against motor neurone disease and his bid to help the MND Association, but the superhuman efforts of former Rhinos and international team-mate Sinfield really captured the imagination of the public. The Leeds director of rugby ran seven marathons in seven days around his home in Saddleworth and in Leeds, raising over £2.5m for the cause.