1994 World Club Challenge
|1994World Club Challenge|
|Date||1 June 1994|
|Man of the Match||Shaun Edwards|
|Commentators||Ray Warren, Peter Sterling, John Monie|
The 1994 MMI World Club Challenge was a replay of the 1992 World Club Challenge, with 1993–94 Rugby Football League season champions Wigan facing the 1993 NSWRL season premiers, the Brisbane Broncos, this time in Australia. Wigan were clearly the dominant club in the English game, having won the previous four consecutive Rugby Football League Championships and Challenge Cup tournaments. The Broncos, having won consecutive premierships in 1992 and 1993, were the dominant team in the Australian game at the time. In the World Club Challenge–this time played unusually late in the year–Wigan were looking to get revenge for their loss against Brisbane in the sides' previous encounter, and obtained a strong first-half lead. The English club then survived a second-half comeback from Brisbane and won the match, cementing their position as the world's dominant rugby league club of the period.
Television coverage was provided by Australia's Nine Network with the game shown live in Great Britain by Sky Sports. Commentary was provided by Ray Warren, Peter Sterling and Wigan's former coach John Monie.
The 1993 Brisbane Broncos season was the sixth in the club's history. Coached by Wayne Bennett and captained by Allan Langer, they competed in the NSWRL's 1993 Winfield Cup premiership, finishing the regular season 5th (out of 16) before going on to play in a re-match of the previous year's grand final against the St George Dragons and again win, claiming consecutive premierships. In doing so they also became the first team in history to win the premiership from fifth position.
The 1993–94 Wigan RLFC season was the 98th in the club's history. Coached by John Dorahy and captained by Shaun Edwards, they competed in the 1993–94 Rugby Football League season, finishing the season at the top of the League to claim the Championship for the fifth consecutive season.
The match was played at Brisbane's ANZ Stadium on 1 June, in the middle of the 1994 NSWRL season. A crowd of 54,220, which set the record attendance for a World Club Challenge, turned out for the game, which was refereed by Greg McCallum. Wigan's chances didn't look good against a star-studded Broncos side because both of their first-choice test props, Kelvin Skerrett (broken jaw) and Andy Platt had been ruled out as injured. In addition their coach John Dorahy had been sacked just weeks previously, so they went into the match under a caretaker coach: former Wigan captain and New Zealand international Graeme West.
With the Broncos not being the dominant force they had been in the previous two seasons (though still going well enough to be a top-five team in the NSWRL premiership at that stage), Brisbane coach Wayne Bennett experimented with his lineup somewhat for the game. Although named at fullback and wing respectively, Wendell Sailor and Willie Carne swapped positions with Sailor going to the wing and Carne to fullback. Also, back rower Peter Ryan was moved to the bench with regular fullback Julian O'Neill moving to the unfamiliar position of lock forward to allow for the changes at fullback and wing.
Wednesday, 1 June
|Brisbane Broncos||14 – 20||Wigan|
Julian O'Neill (1/3)
Frano Botica (4/4)
The match was played under international rules, meaning that when a player was substituted he could not return. Brisbane suffered early from this with the loss of five-eighth Kevin Walters in the fifth minute with an ankle injury. Wigan then opened the scoring in the seventh minute, when Denis Betts pounced on a high ball from Shaun Edwards and ran in for a try. The British champions added to this with another try in the sixteenth minute from Barrie-Jon Mather, bringing the unlikely score of 12–0 in favour of the visitors. In the twenty-seventh minute, Wendell Sailor opened the scoring for Brisbane when he beat Martin Offiah on the wing to put the ball down in the corner. The failed conversion meant a half-time lead for Wigan of 12–4.
Just three minutes into the second half, a defining moment in the game took place when Michael Hancock knocked on and Jason Robinson picked up the ball and sped away, beating Sailor to score Wigan's third try. Frano Botica made it three from three with the boot when he kicked the conversion, bringing the score to 18–4. Brisbane staged a comeback, with Hancock making amends for his knock-on with a try on forty-six minutes and Julian O'Neill getting a try on fifty-nine minutes. Wigan's lead was reduced to four points, but their defence kept the Broncos out for the remainder of the game. A sixty-sixth-minute penalty by Botica meant a perfect night with the boot for him and a final score of 14–20.
Wigan's captain Shaun Edwards was named man-of-the-match and his team reclaimed the WCC trophy, going home with the $400,000 of prize money. With the Super League war looming, this was to be the last WCC match until the 1997 World Club Championship which included all Super League-aligned clubs from the European competition and the Australasian Telstra Cup teams playing in a home-and-away-type championship. It was also the last time the British and Australian champions faced off until the year 2000, and as of the 2013 World Club Challenge this was also the last time the single-game format was played in Australia. The game returned there in 2014, with Sydney Roosters hosting Wigan at Allianz Stadium.
- 1994 World Club Challenge at wigan.rlfans.com
- Pramberg, Bernie (2006-09-26). "Broncos beat critics". The Courier-Mail. Australia: Queensland Newspapers. Retrieved 2009-12-12.
- 1994 World Club Challenge at superleague.co.uk
- de la Rivière, Richard (2005). "1994 Brisbane Broncos V Wigan, WCC". Thirteen. Retrieved 8 January 2014.
- "Wigan win World Club final". New Straits Times. Malaysia. 2 June 1994. p. 45. Retrieved 4 October 2010.
- 1994 World Club Challenge at rugbyleagueproject.com