Rating each club’s Super League experience: Sheffield Eagles

A relatively new name to rugby league, Sheffield Eagles, became part of the first Super League campaign back in 1996.

They finished well clear of the cut-off for the first Super League season, after finishing eighth in the Championship.

However, they were proposed to enter into a merger to fellow South Yorkshire side Doncaster. This was refused by the club after a breach of confidentiality.

They took part in the first ever Super League match in Paris. They lost 30-24 at the Stade Sebastien Charlety.

A 23-10 win over Oldham then had Sheffield in fourth place. Tries from Jean-Marc Garcia, Keith Senior, Ryan Sheridan and Bright Sodje won the game for the Eagles.

But then, they went on to win five of their last 14 games.

Sheffield went on to finish in a respectable seventh place in the Super League.

At the end of the season, Gary Hetherington left the club to take controlling share in Leeds Rhinos. Phil Larder took over ahead of the 1997 season.

New era

Larder left the club after their 32-16 win in Paris, after taking a job with England Rugby Union. John Kear ended up replacing him.

Kear’s first win came after a very impressive 38-12 at Warrington Wolves. Garcia scored two tries, Whetu Taewa also scored two, while Johnny Lawless and Danny McAllister completed the scoring for Sheffield.

Sheffield ended up finishing eighth. They were within one game of Old Trafford for the Premiership Trophy Final. After beating Warrington, and then London Broncos, they were eventually beaten by Wigan 22-10 at Central Park.

History

A year later saw Sheffield make history, as they created one of the biggest Challenge Cup upsets of all-time after beating Wigan at Wembley.

Tries from Matt Crowther, Nick Pinkney and Darren Turner sealed the win for the Eagles.

This was the year Super League moved into the playoff era, where the champions would be decided by the playoffs rather than the table.

A 56-10 win over Huddersfield saw the Eagles in sixth position. Sodje scored a hat-trick, Dale Laughton scored two tries, while Senior, Taewa, Turner and Waisale Sovatabua completed the scoring.

However, Sheffield then went on to win only one of their remaining seven matches to finish eighth.

Merger and Phoenix Club

In 1999, Sheffield’s cup defence ended disappointingly early against Salford, and in the league they finished 10th, comfortably in midtable. Not close enough to qualify for the playoffs, and not close enough to the relegation battle.

That was their last season in the Super League, as they merged with Huddersfield Giants, in order to keep the team alive.

However, they quickly averted back to Huddersfield Giants, and a phoenix club was created.

Since then, the phoenix club have been down into League One, but have comeback, and were on the verge of the playoffs last season.

They also claimed their first trophy since the Challenge Cup, as they won the 1895 Cup, defeating

The future

It is difficult to predict what the future holds for Sheffield. Their current home, is currently under redevelopment works and had been forced to play their first six games away from their usual home.

There is a real hunger to succeed at the club. If they can translate that into performances on the pitch, then they will be a competitive side for years to come.

Rating

4/10- had their moment of success, but critically, were not able to build on it.

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