The top 10 rugby league moments of 2021

Another brilliant year of rugby league has been and gone. Supposed to be a World Cup year, 2021 wasn’t without its controversies but it was also full of high points and ground breaking moments for the sport but which were the top ten? Today we’re answering that question and giving you the top 10 rugby league moments of 2021 in chronological order.

Super League returns

On the 26th March the 2021 Betfred Super League season began in the same way the 2019 season had ended as the reigning Champions St Helens took on Salford to begin the season. St Helens showed early signs of the quality which would guide them to a third consecutive title in an empty Headingley as they defeated the Red Devils 29-6. Over the weekend Wigan would defeat new boys Leigh, Leeds downed West Yorkshire rivals Wakefield, Catalans won in golden point against Hull KR, Hull FC defeated Huddersfield and Castleford toppled Warrington.

The return of fans in Super League

Just under two months later supporters were allowed back in stadiums. On the 17th May five Super League matches took place in front of reduced crowds as things finally started getting back to normal in the competition. By the end of the season, there were no limitations on crowd size and we were able to enjoy both the Challenge Cup Final and Grand Final in all their glory.

New South Wales record breaking State of Origin triumph

Then in June the State of Origin took centre stage back in its traditional time slot having been moved to the end of 2020 due to the pandemic. New South Wales wrapped up the title in mesmeric fashion winning the first two games by an aggregate score of 76-6 despite the fact both games took place in Queensland. The Blues were even able to nil Queensland in the state’s most famous stadium – Suncorp – wrapping up the trophy in a 26-0 triumph.

Catalans amazing comeback on the way to the League Leaders’ Shield

Speaking of silverware, Catalans claimed only their second trophy in the British game in dramatic fashion at one of the best Magic Weekends ever. The Dragons needed to defeat Champions St Helens to become the first non-English side to win the League Leaders’ Shield but 30-12 down with just minutes left, that seemed unlikely. However, an amazing comeback saw them level the scores in the last play of the game before winning the game and the trophy through a James Maloney drop goal in golden point.

Penrith end 18-year wait

A historic day for Catalans was shortly followed by a historic day for Penrith when the Panthers ended an 18-year wait for a Premiership with a 14-12 win over South Sydney having been written off earlier in the season after giving up top spot to a rampant Melbourne side. Nathan Cleary won the Clive Churchill medal as he and his father Ivan enjoyed a historic day in the club’s history.

St Helens win a third consecutive title

That was Penrith’s third title and three was also the magic number at Old Trafford when St Helens’ number three Kevin Naiqama scored twice in his final appearance for the club to win the trophy for St Helens and the Harry Sunderland Award. He then shared a heartfelt moment with two-time winner of the award Rob Burrow before St Helens lifted a third consecutive title becoming only the third team in British rugby league to do so.

The first women’s treble of the Super League era

Speaking of threes, St Helens again made history around the number three when they become the first side to win all three trophies available to them going one better than the double winning Leeds Rhinos side of 2019. The Saints defeated York in the Challenge Cup Final, finished top and defeated Champions Leeds at Headingley in front of a record crowd to secure the historic feat.

Toulouse become the second French side in Super League

Later that day Toulouse and Featherstone battled in an enticing encounter with promotion on the line. The French side however came away with the spoils in their own backyard completing an unbeaten season and fulfilling a decade and a half long ambition to play in Super League.

France and England battle in three different sports

A huge year for French rugby league concluded with a historic battle with England on three different fronts as the two countries met in the women’s game, the men’s game and the wheelchair game. Whilst England got the better of France in both the men and women’s, the 2017 Wheelchair World Cup Champions France were too much for their English counterparts.

Kevin Sinfield completes 101 miles in 24 hours

Then in November Kevin Sinfield blew us all away with another amazing feat of friendship to raise money and awareness in the fight against Motor Neurone Disease for his mate Rob Burrow. Sinfield ran 101 miles in just 24 hours taking his overall fundraising efforts over the £5 million mark reminding us all what true friendship is. Meanwhile, more fundraising activities caught the eye in December with both Wigan fan Martyn Clarke and former referee David Merrick putting their bodies to the limit for great causes.

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