Regal Trophy
SportRugby league
Formerly known asPlayer's No.6 Trophy
John Player Trophy
John Player Special Trophy
Instituted1971
Ceased1996
Countries United Kingdom (RFL)
 France
Last winnersWigan (1996)
Most titlesWigan (8 titles)

The Regal Trophy was an annual knock-out competition for British rugby league football clubs. Organised by the Rugby Football League (RFL), the competition was open to all professional clubs in the British rugby league system, but amateur teams and French clubs also took part at various points during its existence.

First held in 1971–72, the tournament was initially played over five rounds. A preliminary round was added in 1981–82 to accommodate the increasing number of professional teams in the sport. The fixtures were normally played during the early part of the season, with the final usually taking place at a neutral venue in January. The tournament was regarded as less prestigious than the RFL's primary cup competition, the Challenge Cup, and was discontinued when rugby league became a summer sport in 1996.

During its existence, the competition was always referred to by its sponsorship name. The initial sponsors were the tobacco manufacturer John Player & Sons with Regal taking over in 1989 until the competition's end. Over the years, the competition was known as the Player's No.6 Trophy (1971–77), the John Player Trophy (1977–83) and the John Player Special Trophy (1983–89), before finally becoming the Regal Trophy in 1989.

History

The competition was introduced in 1971 as the Player's No.6 Trophy, with sponsors John Player & Sons announcing an £11,000 prize fund for the inaugural season.[1] The competition was open to all professional Rugby Football League clubs, with a small number of amateur clubs taking part in most seasons.

In 1977–78, Hull-based Cawoods defeated Halifax 9–8 in the first round of the competition, the first time an amateur team had defeated professional opposition in any competition since 1909.[2]

In 1989, a new sponsorship deal was agreed with Imperial Tobacco, and the competition was rebranded as the Regal Trophy.[3]

In 1992, several French clubs entered the competition.[4] This marked the first time that French teams had participated in a British rugby league competition, and clubs would later also be accepted into the Challenge Cup and domestic leagues.[5]

Following the introduction of the Super League in 1996, the Regal Trophy faced an uncertain future,[6] and was ultimately abandoned. The BBC could no longer fit the competition into its TV schedule due to the switch to playing rugby league in the summer, and Regal were unwilling to continue sponsoring the tournament without television coverage.[7]

List of finals

Season Winners Score Runner-up Venue Attendance Date
Player's No.6 Trophy
1971–72 Halifax 22–11 Wakefield Trinity Odsal, Bradford 7,975 Saturday 22 January 1972
1972–73 Leeds 12–7 Salford Fartown Ground, Huddersfield 10,102 Saturday 24 March 1973
1973–74 Warrington 27–16 Rochdale Hornets Central Park, Wigan 9,347 Saturday 9 February 1974
1974–75 Bradford Northern 3–2 Widnes Wilderspool, Warrington 5,935 Saturday 25 January 1975
1975–76 Widnes 19–13 Hull F.C. Headingley, Leeds 9,035 Saturday 24 January 1976
1976–77 Castleford 25–15 Blackpool Borough The Willows, Salford 4,512 Saturday 22 January 1977
1977–78 Warrington 9–4 Widnes Knowsley Road, St Helens 10,258 Saturday 28 January 1978
John Player Trophy
1978–79 Widnes 16–4 Warrington Knowsley Road, St Helens 10,743 Saturday 28 April 1979
1979–80 Bradford Northern 6–0 Widnes Headingley, Leeds 9,909 Saturday 5 January 1980
1980–81 Warrington 12–5 Barrow Central Park, Wigan 12,820 Saturday 24 January 1981
1981–82 Hull F.C. 12–4 Hull Kingston Rovers Headingley, Leeds 25,165 Saturday 23 January 1982
1982–83 Wigan 15–4 Leeds Elland Road, Leeds 19,553 Saturday 22 January 1983
John Player Special Trophy
1983–84 Leeds 18–10 Widnes Central Park, Wigan 9,510 Saturday 14 January 1984
1984–85 Hull Kingston Rovers 12–0 Hull F.C. Boothferry Park, Hull 25,326 Saturday 26 January 1985
1985–86 Wigan 11–8 Hull Kingston Rovers Elland Road, Leeds 17,573 Saturday 11 January 1986
1986–87 Wigan 18–4 Warrington Burnden Park, Bolton 21,144 Saturday 10 January 1987
1987–88 St Helens 15–14 Leeds Central Park, Wigan 16,669 Saturday 9 January 1988
1988–89 Wigan 12–6 Widnes Burnden Park, Bolton 20,709 Saturday 7 January 1989
Regal Trophy
1989–90 Wigan 24–12 Halifax Headingley, Leeds 17,810 Saturday 13 January 1990
1990–91 Warrington 12–2 Bradford Northern Headingley, Leeds 11,154 Saturday 12 January 1991
1991–92 Widnes 24–0 Leeds Central Park, Wigan 15,070 Saturday 11 January 1992
1992–93 Wigan 15–8 Bradford Northern Elland Road, Leeds 13,221 Saturday 23 January 1993
1993–94 Castleford 33–2 Wigan Headingley, Leeds 15,626 Saturday 22 January 1994
1994–95 Wigan 40–10 Warrington McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield 19,636 Saturday 28 January 1995
1995–96 Wigan 25–16 St Helens McAlpine Stadium, Huddersfield 17,590 Saturday 13 January 1996

Wins by club

Rank Club Wins Winning seasons
1 Wigan 8 1982–83, 1985–86, 1986–87, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1992–93, 1994–95, 1995–96
2 Warrington 4 1973–74, 1977–78, 1980–81, 1990–91
3 Widnes 3 1975–76, 1978–79, 1991–92
4= Bradford Northern 2 1974–75, 1979–81
Castleford 2 1976–77, 1993–94
Leeds 2 1972–73, 1983–84
5= Halifax 1 1971–72
Hull F.C. 1 1981–82
Hull Kingston Rovers 1 1984–85
St. Helens 1 1987–88

Media coverage

The BBC was the exclusive broadcaster of the competition throughout its history. Matches were broadcast on the BBC's Grandstand programme, showing one live match per round. Depending on the TV schedule, only the second-half was shown for some matches in the earlier rounds,[8] but from the semi-final onwards, the entire match was usually covered.[9]

References

  1. ^ Mather, Harold (19 May 1971). "New prizes for clubs and players". The Guardian. London. p. 21. ProQuest 185500934.
  2. ^ "Cawoods Make History By Enjoying Themselves". Hull Daily Mail. 24 October 1977. p. 12 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  3. ^ Fitzpatrick, Paul (3 February 1989). "Cashing in with a Regal deal". The Guardian. London. p. 18. ProQuest 186885505.
  4. ^ "Rugby League: Allez Wigan". The Independent. 29 September 1992. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  5. ^ "French clubs keen to return to Challenge Cup". Love Rugby League. 20 November 2019. Retrieved 29 July 2023.
  6. ^ Hadfield, Dave (24 January 1996). "Tries to be given trial by television". The Independent. Retrieved 25 April 2023.
  7. ^ Roberts, Chris (14 May 1996). "RL chiefs unveil expansion plans". Huddersfield Daily Examiner. p. 15 – via British Newspaper Archive.
  8. ^ "BBC Programme Index - Grandstand". BBC Genome. December 1990. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  9. ^ "BBC Programme Index - Grandstand". BBC Genome. 29 December 1990. Retrieved 6 May 2023.