What Team Has Won The Most Super League Titles in Rugby?

St Helens Rugby Team

The Super League was founded back in 1996 so will celebrate its 30th anniversary soon enough. The 2024 season, the 29th in the competition’s history, recently began, and right now there will be several teams who think they have a decent chance of going all the way to the Grand Final at Old Trafford on the 12th of October.

Wigan Warriors are the defending champions, having beaten Catalans Dragons 10-2 in last year’s showpiece contest. Over the years there have been some thrilling finales and rugby league fans will be excited about the coming months as 12 teams are whittled down to just two. But who has come out on top the most in the 28 completed seasons we have seen to date, and how many different clubs have tasted glory overall?

St Helens Top the Pile After Recent Domination

With nine Grand Final successes, Merseyside club St Helens are the most successful in the Super League era. This has only recently become the case, thanks to their near-total domination in recent times.

Saints won four titles in a row between 2019 and 2022, becoming the first team to achieve that feat. Their full list of wins can be seen in the table below:

Title Year Grand Final Score Opponent
9 2022 24-12 Leeds Rhinos
8 2021 12-10 Catalans Dragons
7 2020 8-4 Wigan Warriors
6 2019 23-6 Salford Red Devils
5 2014 14-6 Wigan Warriors
4 2006 26-4 Hull
3 2002 19-18 Bradford Bulls
2 2000 29-16 Wigan Warriors
1 1999 8-6 Bradford Bulls

As we can see, Wigan have been the team they have beaten more than any other in the Grand Final, but it was not all one-way traffic. As well as the nine finals they have won, Saints have lost five, as per the table below.

Grand Final Defeat Number Year Score Opponent
5 2011 32-16 Leeds Rhinos
4 2010 22-10 Wigan Warriors
3 2009 18-10 Leeds Rhinos
2 2008 24-16 Leeds Rhinos
1 2007 33-6 Leeds Rhinos

As joyous for Saints fans as their streak of four wins in a row in recent years was, one could very easily argue that the supporters and the club had earned the right to some glory. Five Grand Final defeats in a row must have been heartbreaking for all concerned with the club and brought them the unwanted tag of being bottlers.

They seemed to constantly be playing the role of Jimmy White to Leeds’ Stephen Hendry, and must have wondered when they would ever be able to break their losing streak. They made six finals in a row, winning the first, before losing the five above, but then had to wait until 2014 to put to bed their tag as bottlers on the big occasion. They have well and truly done that now and their four in a row, nine wins overall, and 14 appearances in the Grand Final are all records.

Rhinos Knocked off Their Perch

Leeds Rhinos
Mtaylor848, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

For many years it was Leeds Rhinos who were the preeminent team of the Super League years. They couldn’t win the title four years running but they did claim glory in five seasons out of six, before adding two wins in three years.

Much of their great success came thanks to the brilliance of Rob Burrow and Kevin Sinfield, men whose more recent off-pitch heroics have eclipsed their many triumphs on it. The Rhinos team of the late 2000s was one of the finest the game has ever seen and even when they were not at their best, they found a way to win – often at the expense of St Helens.

In all, Leeds have won the Super League crown eight times, so are just one behind St Helens. However, despite a surprise appearance in the 2022 game, where Saints got some measure of revenge by beating them 24-12, Leeds have not really looked a great side for some time now. It is early days in the new campaign but it seems unlikely they will be matching the Merseysiders on nine titles this term. Brief details of the 11 Grand Finals Leeds have played in can be seen below.

  • 2022 – lost to Saints, 24-12
  • 2017 – beat Castleford 24-6
  • 2015 – beat Wigan 22-20
  • 2012 – beat Warrington 26-18
  • 2011 – beat St Helens 32-16
  • 2009 – beat St Helens 18-10
  • 2008 – beat St Helens 24-16
  • 2007 – beat St Helens 33-6
  • 2005 – lost to Bradford, 15-6
  • 2004 – beat Bradford 16-8
  • 1998 – lost to Wigan, 10-4

Wigan Third

Wigan WarriorsSome way back from those two giants of the last 28 seasons, come Wigan. In the pre-Super League years, the Greater Manchester (as it is now) side were perhaps the best of the best. Including their Super League successes and those prior to the rebrand/structure change, they have won the title 23 times. That puts them six clear of Saints and a massive 12 ahead of the Rhinos.

However, we are talking Super League glory only here and, therefore, the Warriors are third with six wins from 12 Grand Final appearances. Their first success came in the inaugural Super League campaign, in 1998, whilst their most recent was 2023, as said. In between they won in 2010, 2013, 2016 and 2018, losing in the showpiece in 2000, 2001, 2003, 2014, 2015 and 2020.

How Many Clubs Have Ever Won the Super League Grand Final?

In total just three teams have ever tasted glory since the Super League began. You don’t need to be a maths whizz to calculate that just one other club has done so, and that is Bradford Bulls. The Bulls have suffered a miserable decline and despite being founded way back in 1863 nearly ceased to exist.

They have faced many financial issues over the years and went into administration in 2012. They also went into liquidation in 2017 but have limped on, often playing outside the Super League during the last decade or more.

Even so, nobody can take away their Super League wins in 2001, 2003 and 2005. Moreover, given they also lost in the Grand Final in 1999, 2002 and 2004, they must be regarded as the first dominant side of the new competition. Will we see them rise again?

How Many Teams Have Made the Grand Final?

Whilst only four teams have ever lifted the Super League trophy, a further five have narrowly missed out. Salford (2019), Castleford (2017) and Hull (2006) have all made one appearance in the Grand Final. Catalans Dragons made it to the last two last term and also in 2021, whilst Warrington Wolves have come close on four occasions, losing in 2012, 2013, 2016 and 2018. With three of those defeats coming to Wigan, we can only assume the Warriors were determined that they should be the only double-W, alliterative winning team!