Since the dawn of Super League back in 1996, 26 teams have been crowned Champions of the Northern Hemisphere’s premier competition. All of them deserve their place in history but who deserves to be considered the best of the best?
Today we’re answering that question by looking at every team’s points percentage in the league and the number of trophies they won as well as other elements as they went on to secure the Super League trophy.
26. Leeds 2011
With just 15 league wins and a single draw, this Leeds team has the lowest points percentage all the Super League Champions at under 60%. Throughout the season, Leeds suffered some embarrassing defeats as they conceded 40 to Warrington twice and St Helens once. Meanwhile, 12th place Harlequins did the double over them. If we were looking at their capabilities in play-off rugby, they’d probably be top of this list as they suddenly became the best team in the league in September thanks to the inspirational form of Rob Burrow. But their injury hit campaign and poor record in the league sees them finish bottom.
League Position: 5th Points Percentage: 57.41% Trophies: 1
25. Bradford 2005
Similarly, this Bradford side seemed a long way off the top two in 2005 in the shape of St Helens and Leeds losing soundly at the hands of the Rhinos at Odsal. They managed to squeeze into third on 37 points before a brilliant play-off run saw them topple the top two on the way to Grand Final glory. But their poor league form and record of 37 points from a possible 56 is not what most people associate with Champions.
League Position: 3rd Points Percentage: 66.07% Trophies: 1
24. Leeds 2017
Remarkably, Leeds finished second in 2017 by winning just two thirds of their games. They lost 10 league fixtures during that campaign and were soundly beaten by Castleford on a number of occasions including a crushing 66-10 defeat at the Jungle. They were also well beaten by Wakefield in the Super 8s. That said, they once again showed their play-off smarts to reach their peak at the end of the year to down the Tigers at Old Trafford.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 66.67% Trophies: 1
23. Wigan 2016
A very similar story unfolded the year before only with Wigan at the heart of it. The Warriors were second best to Hull FC and Warrington for much of the season but somehow managed to squeeze into second ahead of the Black and Whites. They, like Leeds in 2017, suffered an embarrassing defeat in which they were battered by Wakefield yet found something extra to win at Old Trafford against a fancied Warrington side.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 70.00% Trophies: 1
22. St Helens 2020
This Saints team finished the season with a higher points percentage than other teams above them in this list but this side played far fewer games due to the pandemic. The pandemic could also be said to have helped the Saints, after all they struggled at the start of the year before lockdown allowed them to reset and begin to dominate once more. Their points percentage of 70.59% is a fairly standard record and saw them finish just behind table-toppers Wigan before a slice of luck and buckets of determination led them to a dramatic win over the Warriors in the Grand Final.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 70.59% Trophies: 1
21. Leeds 2007
This Leeds team was something special and perhaps deserves to feature higher on this list but the stats determine their place lower in the standings. 2007 was a funny season and perhaps one of the most competitive ever. St Helens’ total of 39 points at the top is one of the lowest to yield the League leaders’ Shield ever showing just how tough it was to dominate in this period. So, the fact Leeds came away with the Super League trophy should be credited especially when paired with their impressive wins over the Saints in the regular season before playing them off the park in Manchester. That being said, they did lose to newly promoted Hull KR amongst other slip-ups in an up and down season in which they peaked at the right time.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 70.37% Trophies: 1
20. Wigan 2018
This Warriors team most definitely peaked at the right time. They were impeccable during the Super 8s at the end of the year to wrap up second place and build momentum which eventually led to a 12-4 win over Warrington at Old Trafford. Their tally of 46 points is often enough to win the League Leaders’ Shield, so their season was much more spectacular in terms of results than most teams we’ve already seen on this list.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 76.67% Trophies: 1
19. St Helens 1999
Interestingly, the Saints team who finished second in 1999 had an identical record to the Warriors of 2018. A quality outfit, not only did they have to fend off Bradford at Old Trafford to secure the Super League title, they also had to succeed amongst a number of other top tier competitors such as reigning Champions Wigan and cup winners Leeds. Doing so sees them finish above the Warriors’ class of 2018.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 76.67% Trophies: 1
18. St Helens 2000
A year later, the Saints were even more impressive in the league to finish just behind table toppers Wigan after winning nearly 80% of their league games. From there, they utterly outplayed the Warriors at Old Trafford to claim back-to-back titles.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 79.31% Trophies: 1
17. Leeds 2012
Remarkably, despite having less than a 60%-win rate in the league, Leeds won two trophies in 2012 which sees them finish as high as they do. They produced a superb performance at Headingley to defeat Manly to claim the World Title thanks to an exceptional performance from Ryan Hall, a touch of class from Rob Burrow and a stern defensive effort. The Rhinos then went on to finish fifth before some brilliant performances in the play-offs led them to a second consecutive title. Their play-off performances showed real quality and, like the class of 2011, it’s hard to claim that anyone would’ve stopped them.
League Position: 5th Points Percentage: 59.26% Trophies: 2
16. Wigan 2013
A similar assessment can be made of Wigan a year later. They too were ruthless in the play-offs beating both the table-toppers Huddersfield and reigning Champions Leeds to get to Old Trafford before a stunning 14-point comeback saw them claim the Super League title. This was after they’d already won the Challenge Cup with a 16-0 win over Hull FC at Wembley. To win the double is a special achievement and sees them finish 16th despite their fourth-place finish in the league.
League Position: 4th Points Percentage: 64.81% Trophies: 2
15. St Helens 2014
A year later, St Helens helped themselves to two out of the three trophies on offer as they finished top before a gusty performance in Manchester saw them defeat the 12-man Warriors. Their tally of 38 points in the league is perhaps below average in Super League but had they not been hit by injury to key players like Luke Walsh and Jonny Lomax, their domination could’ve been more pronounced and led to a Grand Final win remembered for the right reasons rather than the wrong ones.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 70.37% Trophies: 2
14. Bradford 1997
You might question why the Bradford side of 1997 finishes as high as they do despite winning just one trophy. The reasoning behind their position is their superb 90% win rate in the league as they only lost twice on their way to finishing top which back then earnt them the Super League crown.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 90.91% Trophies: 1
13. Leeds 2008
A lot of people overlook this Leeds side when they look back on the best teams in Super League history but if not for their mid-season slump in the league, they’d have been one of the very top teams in this list. They were exhilarating in the first few months of the season as they established a six-point advantage at the Super League summit as they produced three remarkable performances in a row over Easter as they scored tries for fun and just conceded one four-pointer in 240 minutes. They were something special and looked like the best team in the world reinforcing their superb World Title win at the expense of Melbourne at the start of the year. However, a mid-season collapse saw St Helens finish top but a typically perfect Grand Final performance saw Leeds claim back-to-back titles.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 77.78% Trophies: 2
12. St Helens 2002
This Saints side squeezes above the Rhinos in this list owing to their first-place finish (which no matter the era I’m considering a trophy) and their superior win-percentage. Moreover, they won arguably the greatest Grand Final we’ve ever seen when a Sean Long drop goal edged a classic encounter against Bradford.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 79.31% Trophies: 2
11. Bradford 2001
The Bulls were a formidable foe in 2002 if the previous season was anything to go by. The Bulls romped to top spot winning over 80% of their games before destroying Wigan in the Grand Final with the most dominant title-decider showing in history as they won 37-6.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 80.36% Trophies: 2
10. Wigan 2010
In a similar vein, the Wigan class of 2010 were also one of the best most dominant teams in a single Super League season. The 2010 campaign felt like the Warriors’ coming of age as they were head and shoulders above the rest of the league and their 44 points saw them ease towards a first League Leaders’ Shield in 10 years before they went on to claim a second Super League title thanks to a blitzkrieg in the opening quarter of the Grand Final against the Saints.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 81.48% Trophies: 2
9. St Helens 1996
Speaking of the Saints, they began Super League with a magnificent campaign as they lost only two league games all year taking top spot and with it the Super League crown as well as winning the Challenge Cup ending Wigan’s domination of both competitions. The Cherry and Whites pushed the Saints all the way in a 22-game season making their success even more impressive given the high-pressure such a formidable rival creates. However, the brevity of that season sees this Saints side kept away from the top five.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 90.91% Trophies: 2
8. Wigan 1998
The same argument could be made about the Wigan class of 1998. The Cherry and Whites really should’ve been the first team in Super League to do what would later be known as the treble. They lost two league games all year – both of which came at the hands of second placed Leeds – as they stormed to top spot before a battle royale of a Grand Final saw them win the Super League title at the expense of the Rhinos. The only thing that stopped them in terms of ultra-domination was a shock defeat to Sheffield in the Challenge Cup Final which is still regarded as one of the biggest Wembley shocks in our game’s history. That defeat however means they only lost three games all year.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 91.30% Trophies: 2
7. Leeds 2009
As were Leeds in 2009. You may look at the Rhinos’ win percentage compared to others with the same trophy haul and wonder why they feature higher. But if you look at how competitive the 2009 instalment of Super League was and the calibre of their biggest title rivals in a star-studded St Helens outfit, and it makes their feat of finishing top and winning a third consecutive Grand Final all the more impressive. They did it in style too scoring 144 points over two games before they edged Saints in a classic at Headingley to secure the shield before two dominant play-off performances took them to Old Trafford where they again defeated St Helens in a Grand Final for the ages.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 77.78% Trophies: 2
6. St Helens 2019
We’re now getting to the very special, very dominant Super League Champions and the St Helens class of 2019 were a whisker away, maybe even a disallowed try away, from the treble. No one could touch them in the league as they recorded the greatest points percentage in a league campaign longer than 25 games losing just three games two of which were with depleted sides against London. They then cruised to Grand Final glory with comprehensive wins over Wigan in the qualifier and Salford at Old Trafford after they’d lit up the league with some outstanding and expansive rugby.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 89.66% Trophies: 2
5. St Helens 2021
Two years later and the Saints were completing the three-peat. This iteration of the Saints were also one trophy away from the treble but a Challenge Cup and Grand Final double is nothing to be scoffed at. A mentally tough unit built for big games, they were unstoppable in knockout contests this season and their 36-8 demolition of Leeds in the Super League semi-finals summed that up. The 2021 campaign summarised St Helens’ dominance over Super League in recent years even if they were less flashy than under Justin Holbrook.
League Position: 2nd Points Percentage: 76.19% Trophies: 2
4. Leeds 2004
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 89.29% Trophies: 2
In football they talk about Manchester City’s ‘pure’ style of play which has underpinned their dominance under Pep Guardiola. Well, this was pure rugby league. Under the stewardship of Tony Smith, this Leeds team’s attack was exhilarating to watch as they scored over a thousand points during the regular campaign including 70 in one game at the expense of St Helens. They were a results machine as well losing just twice during the season which is the joint lowest in Super League history. Consider that this was in a 28-game campaign whilst the other instances of just two defeats have occurred in 22-game seasons, and that feat becomes all the more impressive. After romping to the League Leaders’ Shield, they then showed nuance to defeat Bradford in a brilliant Grand Final.
3. Leeds 2015
11 years later and Leeds’ attack was again exhilarating but their winning edge was also more defined as they became the latest team to win the treble. Their win percentage in the league is unusually low at below 70% but that speaks more to the competitiveness of the league rather than any weakness on their part. Four teams could’ve won the League Leaders’ Shield going into the final round of fixtures which underpins how many quality teams there were as well as the brilliance it took from Leeds to win every trophy on offer. The Rhinos claimed huge wins at the expense of St Helens (twice) and Warrington during the regular season and defeated Hull KR by a record-breaking margin of 50-0 in the Challenge Cup Final before a brilliant Grand Final saw Leeds secure the treble with a 22-20 win over Wigan.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 68.33% Trophies: 3
2. Bradford 2003
Bradford were slightly more dominant than that Leeds side when they became the first team to win the treble in 2003. They secured 44 points on their way to top spot having already secured the Challenge Cup in a classic final against their rivals Leeds. Once they got going in the league displacing the Rhinos at the summit, they looked like certain Champions especially with the quality their side possessed and unsurprisingly they won the Grand Final 25-12 against Wigan.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 78.57% Trophies: 3
1. St Helens 2006
But the most dominant – at least statistically – Super League Champions and treble winners were the Saints in 2006. No one came close as they won the League Leaders’ Shield by a whopping eight points after 24 wins from 28 games before battering Hull FC 26-4 in Manchester to claim the Super League title. This came after playing Huddersfield off the park in the Challenge Cup Final. With a squad full of quality and an exciting style of play, they were a top-notch team and blew their rivals out of the water for 12 months.
League Position: 1st Points Percentage: 85.71% Trophies: 3