Super League has been dominated by four teams over the 25 years of its existence but with new challengers for the title emerging every season, their reign of dominance may be about to end. With that in mind, we’re looking back on the Super League teams who have dominated the first 25 seasons of the competition and decide which side built the best Super League dynasty.
5. St Helens 2005-08
This St Helens outfit were as dominant as you could get in Super League. They remain the only club to win four League Leaders’ Shields in a row and did so in some style. In 2005, Daniel Anderson’s side racked up 1028 points on their way to an impressive 23 wins and the following year they went one better amassing 24 wins as they secured a dominant treble. In 2007 Saints very nearly topped that by securing an unprecedented quadruple; after edging Leeds for the League Leaders’ Shield, they retained the Challenge Cup and claimed the World Club Challenge, before entering the Grand Final 80 minutes away from a clean sweep. Sadly, they were beaten that night by the Rhinos and it would be a similar story in 2008, as they won every domestic honour before losing to Leeds again at the Theatre of Dreams. Ultimately, that’s what keeps this St Helens side in fifth place. Had things turned out differently at Old Trafford, this Saints team would have taken top spot.
4. Wigan Warriors 2013-18
In a stark contrast from the St Helens side a decade earlier, this Wigan team weren’t nearly as dominant in the regular season. However, they sure did know how to win trophies, led for the most part by the influential Sean O’Loughlin. In this spell, the Warriors contested all but one Grand Final and walked away with three victories at the Theatre of Dreams. Their first was the most memorable as Shaun Wane’s men claimed a famous double by producing the biggest comeback in Grand Final history against Warrington, coming back from 16-2 down to claim the title. The following two seasons Wigan came as close as can be to the Super League trophy with only Ben Flower’s red card in 2014 and a treble-winning Leeds Rhinos side in 2015 stopping them from claiming the crown. They would correct those wrongs in 2016 with a second Super League trophy before winning the World Club Challenge in 2017. The following season, Wane’s tenure ended with a third Grand Final win, making him the second most successful Super League coach in terms of Grand Finals. This Wigan side never won the League Leaders’ Shield, but their ability to get to Old Trafford and win it is what makes them a champion team.
3. Bradford Bulls 2001-05
Bullmania was at its peak in the early 2000s under Brian Noble. Bradford had such strength down the middle in the shape of Jamie Peacock and Paul Anderson, while their backline was full of attacking threats, including the Paul brothers and Lesley Vainikolo, who was perhaps the best winger Super League has ever seen, with his total of 39 tries in 2004 a testament to that. In this period, the Bulls are responsible for the most dominant Grand Final performance ever in 2001 as Michael Withers produced the first and only Old Trafford hat-trick to date. From there they went from strength to strength producing the first ever treble in 2003, before adding the World Club Challenge to that the next season. In this period there wasn’t a Grand Final they didn’t partake in and they would impressively win three of them, including a history-making triumph in 2005 when they became the first side to win the Super League title from outside the top two. Their ability to make it to the Theatre of Dreams again and again, as well as contest and win many of the other trophies, saw this Bradford team produce one of the strongest Super League dynasties ever seen.
2. St Helens 1999-02
The first ever ‘super club’ of the Super League dominated the first years of the competition and the first years of the Grand Final too. Saints never lost at Old Trafford in this spell winning on all three visits, including back-to-back triumphs in 1999 and 2000. In 2002 they would add another dramatic Grand Final win to their collection, also claiming the League Leaders’ Shield that year with an impressive 46 points. Their success wasn’t restricted to the Super League either as in 2001 they won the Challenge Cup against that season’s eventual Super League champions Bradford. You might say they didn’t win the League Leaders’ Shield enough in this spell, however, under Ellery Hanley and then Ian Millward, Saints became the first truly dominant side when it came to the Theatre of Dreams.
1. Leeds Rhinos 2004-09
This was the start and arguably the peak of the Rhinos golden generation. In 2004, Leeds would end a 32-year wait for the title in some style, only losing twice in the league on their way to the 50-point mark, before edging the Grand Final against rivals Bradford. The following year they were perhaps even better, scoring a record 1152 points across the season, however they lost both major finals in heart-breaking style. From 2007 to 2009, Leeds became the masters at timing their run and performing at Old Trafford, becoming the only side to win three Grand Finals in a row. They also won the League Leaders’ Shield twice and the World Club Challenge twice in this period, led by the likes of Kevin Sinfield, Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow and from 2006 onwards, Jamie Peacock. Although the Rhinos would carry on their success for many years after this, it was between 2004 and 2009 that they were at their fast, free-flowing best, creating arguably the best Super League dynasty to date.