England enjoy a unique position within Rugby League history having given birth to the sport in 1895 when disillusioned clubs from the north of England rebelled against their southern counterparts to form their own breakaway league. It became known as the Northern Union, the predecessor to the modern day Rugby Football League.
The first ever Rugby League international test was played several years later in 1904, when representatives of the Northern Union, which was effectively an England side, played against a team of players of other nationalities and lost 9-3.
With Rugby League spreading around the world during the 1905-1907 period, England, under the team banner of Great Britain, played host to the famous New Zealand ‘All Golds’ touring side in 1907 and then to the first ever Australian touring side in 1908. In 1910, England then embarked on their first ever Rugby League tour, playing numerous games in both New Zealand and Australia.
England have since appeared in every World Cup played although they played, up until 1975, under the banner of Great Britain and won the trophy on three occasions including the inaugural tournament in France in 1954. Great Britain became England in 1975 but reverted back to GB for the 1977, 1988 and 1992 tournaments before permanently becoming England.
England have produced some of the greatest Rugby League players of all time, including George Fairbairn, who is third on the all-time list of World Cup points scorers, Andy Farrell, widely regarded as one of the toughest competitors ever to play the game and the legendary Harold Wagstaff, who led Huddersfield to an unprecedented four titles during the 1915 season.
Nation Fact File
Area: 130,422 km2
Population: 51 million
Domestic Competition - Super League
The Super League is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in Europe. The League has fourteen teams: thirteen from England and one from France. They are: Bradford Bulls, Castleford Tigers, Catalan Dragons, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Hull KR, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Salford City Reds, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, Warrington Wolves, Widnes Vikings and Wigan Warriors. The current champions are Leeds Rhinos.
Super League began in 1996, replacing the RFL Championship and switching from a winter to a summer season. Each team plays 27 games between February and September: 13 home games, 13 away games and a Magic Weekend game at a neutral venue. At the end of the season, the top eight teams enter play-offs leading to the Grand Final which determines the champions.