Rugby League European Cup
|Current season or competition:
2012 European Cup
|Sport||Rugby league football|
|Formerly known as||European Championship
European Nations Cup
|Most titles||England (14 titles)|
|Related competitions||European Shield
The European Cup (formerly known as the European Championship and European Nations Cup) is a rugby league football tournament for European nations that was first held in 1935, with England, Wales and France each playing each other once. Unlike the Tri-Nations series, there was no final; the team finishing at the top of the group was deemed the winner. The European Cup is contested biennially with four teams and will next be held in 2012. It is run by the Rugby League European Federation.
The tournament was initially played annually, with the exception of the years of the Second World War. In 1946–47, the tournament was altered, with each team playing each other twice, at home and away. The 1949–50 season saw a return to playing only once, but a new team, "Other Nationalities", was added. This team consisted of players who were not English, Welsh, or French playing in the British and French leagues: Australian, New Zealand, Scottish, Irish players, and others all played for this new side.
The 1955–56 tournament had no Welsh team, though Welsh players featured for Other Nationalities. The tournament was not played again until 1969–70. It was revived in 1975, with the three-team format of England, Wales and France playing each other team only once being made standard. The tournament was cancelled after 1981, but it was revived under the same format for 1995 and 1996.
The tournament was revamped for 2003, with Scotland, Ireland and Russia all joining. The new structure saw two groups of three, with the winner of each group meeting in a final. This structure was continued for the 2004 tournament.
From 2004 Scotland, Ireland and Wales had to have at least four 'home grown' players from their domestic competitions (in the case of Wales this means Welsh clubs playing in the TotalRLConference) in their squad. Effectively this means that at least one home grown player is guaranteed a start.
The 2005 tournament did not include England as a participant; England will instead play matches against France and New Zealand, giving the European Nations Cup a more level playing field. Georgia won the first ever European Nations qualifying tournament in 2005, beating both Serbia and the Netherlands to win a spot in the tournament.
- Wales qualified for the 2011 Four Nations.
|England||14 titles||1935, 1945-46, 1946-47, 1947-48, 1949-50, 1953-54, 1969-70, 1975, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1996, 2003, 2004|
|France||8 titles||1938-39, 1948-49, 1950-51, 1951-52, 1977, 1981, 2005|
|Wales||6 titles||1935-36, 1936-37, 1938, 1995, 2009, 2010|
|Other Nationalities||2 titles||1952-53, 1955-56|
|England Knights||1 title||2012|
- Alitalia extends Rugby League European Cup sponsorship rleague.com, 20 October 2011