Here we go again! Before a new season starts so many things are up for discussion amongst rugby league fans. Admittedly, how the season pans out depends on a lot of factors, but fans have their own expectations of what to expect from their respective clubs.
One of the top prizes in rugby league is obviously the Challenge Cup. It is a prize that is so engrained within the heritage of the sport in this country that to have a competition without it would be unthinkable. Also, it is a competition that brings together Super League, Championship, and League 1 teams which means there is an increased chance of an ‘upset’ as there are more teams involved.
Below are the odds for who has the best chance of winning the Challenge Cup this year. It is no surprise that all of the top spots are filled with Super League clubs, but with this competition, anything can happen.
St. Helens – 4/1
It is no surprise that the defending champions of Super League in 2021 are at the top of the list. After a stunning Grand Final victory against the Warriors, they will be looking to capitalise on their success. However, you would have to go back to 2011 to find a side that has won the Grand Final and then the Challenge Cup the season after; Wigan Warriors pulled it off with a 28-18 win over Leeds Rhinos. Can Saints do it? 4/1 are the odds.
Warrington Wolves – 4/1
Warrington have won the Challenge Cup nine times in their history with their last triumph coming in 2019. This was against St. Helens with an 18-4 scoreline. After doing the double in 2009 and 2010, the Wolves have only won the competition twice since but with their huge marquee signing of Greg Inglis, they will be hoping to get back to winning ways this year.
Wigan Warriors – 4/1
Wigan are by far and away the most successful side in Challenge Cup history. They have lifted the Challenge Cup 19 times and hold the record of the most consecutive wins with eight. It is a record that will never be beaten. In more modern times though, the Warriors have only been present in five finals within the least 20 years. This is surprising to say the least given their standing within Super League. However, we know what the Warriors can do and after losing the Grand Final to St. Helens last year, the odds are in favour of a rematch between the two.
Catalans Dragons – 8/1
More surprising than Wigan’s five appearances though are these odds for the Dragons. Many will remember when they won in 2018 with Remi Casty lifting the trophy, shocking Super League no end with the result. But after only playing 13 games last season, surely it would take a lot for the men from the south of France to pull it out of the bag this year?
Leeds Rhinos – 10/1
After winning the Challenge Cup in dramatic fashion in 2020, spurred on by Rob Burrow and everything he stands for, the odds for the Rhinos unfortunately reflect their hit and miss performances since 2017. The passage from their Golden Generation was painful for the Rhinos but there is a lot of good press being printed about their squad for this year. Also, there has been a big emphasis on getting back to what it means to play for Leeds within the team which is what made them so successful in the first place. This mantra was summed up brilliantly by Leeds’s new signing Zane Tetevano in a recent interview. Can Leeds state their claim on league success again and do the double?
Castleford Tigers – 12/1
Castleford have won the Challenge Cup four times in their history but none of those wins have been in Super League. Their last triumph was in 1986 when they beat Hull Kingston Rovers 15-14. In fact, since that win, the Tigers have only appeared in two finals in 1992 against Wigan and in 2014 against Leeds. Despite this, Castleford have completely reinvented themselves over the last ten years or so and they know what it takes to get to a final. If you want to see black and orange on the Challenge Cup this year, those are your odds.
Huddersfield Giants – 12/1
The birthplace of rugby league has been home to the Challenge Cup six times over the last three centuries. The last victory came in 1953 and they have claimed the runner up spot four times, most recently, in the 2009 final against Warrington. With Ian Watson making huge waves at the end of last season by moving to the Giants after his success at Salford, the trophy is ripe for the picking by the men from Huddersfield.
Hull FC – 20/1
The last team to win back-to-back cups in 2016 and 2017, Hull FC have appeared in no less than 17 Challenge Cup finals in their history, coming out on top in five. With a lot of good things coming out of the black-and-white camp before the start of the season, Brett Hodgson will be hoping to do the men from the west of Hull proud and steer them to Challenge Cup success once more.
Salford Red Devils – 20/1
It seems that despite Salford making the 2019 Grand Final and then backing it up with a Challenge Cup appearance last season, they are still seen as a side who people don’t expect a lot from. Maybe the bookies lost faith as Ian Watson walked out of the door? Whatever the reason, it’s a bit harsh on the Red Devils. 20/1 is your best bet.
Wakefield Trinity – 20/1
Wakefield’s last appearance in a Challenge Cup was in 1979 so it is fair to say that history will repeat itself in the 2021 season. But anything can happen with sport, especially in these times. Could they do it? If you think so, 20/1 is your current rate.
Hull Kingston Rovers – 33/1
After winning the Challenge Cup once and coming second place six times, KR do have a pedigree in the Challenge Cup. However, their last outing in 2015 is the biggest ever defeat in the history of the competition and they haven’t come close since. If you’re a neutral from Hull, the Airlie Birds are a better bet than the Robins.
Leigh Centurions – 40/1
Could they? Could the new recruits to Super League win the Challenge Cup and pull off one of the biggest shocks in Rugby League history? Well, the Centurions will not be wanting to disgrace themselves in their first outing in the top flight so 40/1 is your price.
Here are the rest of the odds listed by the bookies. Do you think it’s worth a flutter?
Featherstone Rovers – 125/1
London Broncos – 125/1
Widnes Vikings – 125/1
York City Knights – 125/1
Bradford Bulls – 250/1
Halifax Panthers – 250/1
Sheffield Eagles – 250/1
Batley Bulldogs – 500/1
Dewsbury Rams – 500/1
Newcastle Thunder – 500/1
Oldham R.L.F.C. – 750/1
Swinton Lions – 750/1
Whitehaven R.L.F.C. – 750/1
Barrow Raiders – 1000/1
Keighley Cougars – 1000/1
West Wales Raiders – 1000/1