Written by Oliver Kellner-Dunk
For the past two years the annual Rugby League tradition that is the World Club Challenge has been cancelled due to COVID-19.
Since 1976 this game has pitted the Australian premiere against the United Kingdom’s champions in a one-off fixture to determine who is the best club in the world.
The last World Club Challenge occurred in 2020 when the Sydney Roosters defeated St Helens 20-12 at the Totally Wicked Stadium.
At the beginning of 2022 fans were robbed of seeing a mega clash between the ever-dominant Penrith Panthers and modern-day dynasty St Helens in what would have truly cemented the winner as the best Rugby League team of at least the past half-decade.
Luckily these two sides won their respective competitions again this year which means that they will face each other in the 2023 World Club Challenge.
However, instead of the game taking place in England as it traditionally has, it seems this gargantuan clash will occur in Penrith.
Panthers CEO Brian Fletcher has spoken to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Christian Nicolussi about the game.
“It would have been impossible for us to go over there, but talk of them coming out here is excellent,” Fletcher said.
— christian nicolussi (@mrchrisnico) October 24, 2022
“We’ve only got word today that our second trial, instead of being against another NRL side, the NRL are investigating how they can bring St Helens to Sydney.
“The plan will be to play the game a week before the start of the NRL competition.”
Penrith has played in two World Club Challenges before with both taking place in England.
In 1991 they were defeated by the Wigan Warriors at Anfield 21-4 and were also defeated 22-4 against the Bradford Bulls at Kirklees Stadium in 2004, making the possibility of winning their first-ever World Club Challenge in Penrith an even more exciting prospect for the Panthers.
St Helens on the other hand has competed in seven World Club Challenges but have only won two.
They were last crowned world champions in 2007 when they beat the Brisbane Broncos 18-15 at the University of Bolton Stadium.
Melbourne’s victory over the Leeds Rhinos in 2018 was the last time the World Club Challenge took place in Australia.