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Celebrating 45 years of the World Club Challenge

While it might not be held this year, season 2021 celebrates 45 years since the inaugural World Club Challenge - one trophy the Club is very familiar with - between the Sydney Roosters and St Helens in 1976.

If you cast your eyes over the winners of the World Club Challenge (WCC), you'll notice that the famous tricolours of the Roosters appear the most. On five occasions (1976, 2003, 2014, 2019, 2020) the Roosters have lifted the trophy and crowed the loudest on top of the world.  

Here's a run down of all five matches that saw the Sydney Roosters crowned as World Champs. 

Roosters 25 St Helens 2 - 1976

The inaugural WCC was a four tries to nil thrashing - with the notorious defence of the back-to-back NSWRL champions putting St Helens to the sword in a match fondly remembered by fullback and tryscorer Russell Fairfax.

“We just treated it as another game back then," Fairfax recalled.

"But then when the day came and we walked out on the field it was completely different to what we were expecting.

“There was a huge crowd at the SCG. The Queen was there, and the line-up on the field for the anthem sent shivers down my spine.”

In a perfect start to their World Club Challenge record, the Roosters ran rampant as centre John Brass kicked five goals while Fairfax found himself on the tryscorers' sheet in front of a roaring crowd of 26,856.

Eastern Suburbs Roosters 25 (Royce Aycliffe, Russell Fairfax, Ian Schubert, Kevin Stevens tries; John Brass 5 goals) def St Helens 2 (Geoff Pimblett 1 goal)

 

Roosters 38 St Helens 0 - 2003

If you thought the 1976 victory was emphatic, the boys from 2003 turned it up tenfold.

Twenty-seven years since appearing in their last fixture and coming off a drought-breaking 12th Premiership, the tricolours travelled to England to take on their former adversaries from the northern hemisphere. 

The 38-nil thrashing, which saw backrower Craig Fitzgibbon rake in a 22-point haul, was the biggest ever win in a World Club Challenge at the time.

Game In Focus | World Club Challenge 2003

On a cold and dreary night in the north of England, it would be Fitzgibbon - now a Roosters assistant coach - to open the scoring with a penalty goal, followed by a try of his own soon after thanks to a perfectly weighted Brad Fittler grubber.

A right-side raid which saw Justin Hodges, Anthony Minichiello and Brett Finch link-up saw Englishman Adrian Morley crash over before a runaway try to Todd Byrne saw the Roosters up 18-nil at the break.

A classic intercept from Fittler saw the tricolours extend their lead before youngster Todd Payten iced the cake with a classy try of his own before full-time.

Sydney Roosters 38 (Todd Byrne, Brad Fittler, Craig Fitzgibbon, Adrian Morley, Todd Payten; Craig Fitzgibbon 9 goals) def St Helens 0

There was a huge crowd at the SCG. The Queen was there, the line-up on the field for the anthem sent shivers down my spine.

Russell Fairfax On the 1976 World Club Challenge

Roosters 36 Wigan 14 - 2014

The Roosters made it three WCC wins on the trot when coming up against the Wigan Warriors in 2014 at Allianz Stadium. 

After taking out the NRL Premiership for the first time in eleven years under rookie head coach Trent Robinson, the tricolours were primed to prove they were the real deal against another English powerhouse in red and white - this time being the Wigan Warriors.

But the home side set the tone early, with Michael Jennings crashing over for his first try within the first three minutes. Ten minutes later, hulking prop Sam Moa barged his way over the line, before a Jake Friend grubber sent Jennings over for his second, giving the Roosters an 18-nil halftime lead.

Last Time We Met St Helens

Wigan struck back soon after the break, but it was the Michael Jennings show as the explosive centre scooped up a loose pass to take the lead to 20.

Back-to-back tries to the Warriors saw the gap close to ten points, but a barnstorming try from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves sealed the win for the tricolours before some Sonny Bill Williams magic saw winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall dive over in the corner and cap off a memorable win in front of the Roosters' faithful. 

Sydney Roosters 36 (Michael Jennings 3, Sam Moa, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Shaun Kenny-Dowall; James Maloney 6 goals) def Wigan Warriors 14 (Josh Charnley 2, Joe Burgess tries; Matty Smith 1 goal)

 

Roosters 20 Wigan 8 - 2019

Jet lag from flight to England failed to deter the tricolours as they came up against the Wigan Warriors for the first time in five years, this time coached by former Roosters favourite Adrian Lam. 

In his first match with the club, Brett Morris - son of legendary winger Steve 'Slippery' Morris - made one of the most memorable debuts in club history as he powered his way to three impressive tries.

The man they call 'BMoz' got to work straight away, making a miraculous escape through two tacklers close to the line and breaking away before dotting over in the corner in the third minute.

Highlights | World Club Challenge

Just five minutes later Morris was at it again, this time with a herculean effort by taking on four defenders to this time crash over, with the try giving the Red, White and Blue a 10-nil lead after ten minutes.

An uncharacteristic penalty gave an opportunity to Wigan, which saw them close the deficit, but it was Morris at it again as he collected his third for night, this time through a sweeping play on the left.

With less than half an hour to play, a contentious try to Wigan saw the gap close once again, however, a leaping try from fellow winger Daniel Tupou just minutes from fulltime saw the Roosters once again claim their title as World Champions.

Sydney Roosters 20 (Brett Morris 3, Daniel Tupou tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 2 goals) def Wigan Warriors 8 (Tom Davies, Liam Marshall tries)

 

Roosters 20 St Helens 12 - 2020

The most recent World Club Challenge was the tightest match to date for the Sydney Roosters, and of course, it was up against old foes St Helens. 

A new-look Roosters side saw Luke Keary leading the charge with the retirement of Cooper Cronk, while backrower Angus Crichton made the move out wide to plug up the centres as youngster Sitili Tupouniua played just his second game in the starting side.

St Helens took advantage early on with a try within the first five minutes, but in typical Roosters fashion, Daniel Tupou found his way over the line as he started his 2020 campaign just like he finished his 2019 World Club Challenge, putting his side on the board after ten.

Match Highlights | Saints v Roosters

A break from James Tedesco up the middle of the ruck saw fan-favourite Mitchell Aubusson caught just short of the line, with centre Joseph Manu touching down in the corner, giving the Roosters the lead for the first time with the half-time scores at 8-6.

The scrambling defence of the tricolours shut down St Helens on a number of occasions, with Manu taking a direct approach for his double, this time while carrying three defenders on his back over the line.

With the scores locked up at 12-6 with just over ten left, the Roosters rumbled down-field through front rower Sio Siua Taukeiaho, who produced some soft hands to put Keary away for the game-sealing try. 

Sydney Roosters 20 (Joseph Manu 2, Daniel Tupou, Luke Keary tries; Sio Siua Taukeiaho 2 goals) def St Helens 12 (Luke Thompson, Alex Walmsley tries)

World Club Challenge 2020 - A Look Back

Sydney Roosters World Club Challenge Results

   
Matches Played 5
Won 5
Lost 0
Drawn 0
Points For 139 (Avg. 27.8 pg)
Points Against 36 (Avg. 7.2 pg)
Biggest Win 38-0 - Feb 14 2003 vs St Helens
Biggest Loss N/A
Most Points Scored 38 - Feb 14 2003 vs St Helens
Most Points Conceded 14 - Feb 22 2014 vs Wigan 
Most Tries in a Match Michael Jennings (3) - Feb 22 2014 vs Wigan
Brett Morris (3) - Feb 17 2019 vs Wigan
Most Points in a Match Craig Fitzgibbon (22) - Feb 14 2003 vs St Helens