With the rise of Super League came plenty of name changes as British clubs followed the trend of American sports. Keighley became the Cougars, Warrington became the Wolves and Wigan became the Warriors. But have the new names run their course and is it time to bring back the traditional names of our sport.
Back in the day big games would see the likes of Leeds RL play Bradford Northern. These were names that had lined the sport’s boom period back in the 60s and 70s. They persisted for years on end. They were the heart of our sport.
The Super League re-vamp and subsequent name changes worked initially. They gave new and exciting brands to plenty of clubs. The likes of Leeds and Bradford benefited utilising mascots to superb effect engaging new young fans and expanding the name of the club beyond the northern regions. In fact there are Greek and American rugby teams who have taken on the name Rhinos following in the footsteps of Leeds.
For other clubs the name change has been less profitable. Wakefield recently dropped the Wildcats from their name and became Wakefield Trinity once more. Since then they’ve had on field success and boast a much smarter badge and sharper looking kits.
Meanwhile, the likes of St Helens never changed their name and have been one of Super League’s most successful clubs. They’ve maintained huge crowds during the Super League era and are often one of the clubs signing huge names from across Super League and down under. They maintain a historic yet timeless shirt design whilst being indelibly tied to their club’s great past.
Perhaps a return to traditional names would give clubs more credibility and allow them to fit in more with the rest of British sport. The move would no doubt catch attention and headlines allowing Super League to re-vamp itself in the eyes of the public.
However, it’s possible we could lose something ourselves. For better or worse this is what Super League has become. People remember names like Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers. They stand out with an air of difference to your generic sports clubs in the area. Perhaps there’s an argument to be made that we should lean even more into the nicknames clubs have given themselves in Super League and build up their reputations in the same vein as American sports teams or our cousins in the NRL.