Leeds Rhinos claimed their first Wheelchair Challenge Cup with a 74-46 victory against Kent’s Argonaut Skeleton Army at the English Institute of Sport in Sheffield.
The Rhinos had lost in their previous two Cup Final appearances, but made it third time lucky to take a second of Rugby League’s three Challenge Cups back to Emerald Headingley Stadium – after a triumph for the Leeds Rhinos Women’s team against Castleford in the final of the Coral Women’s Challenge Cup last month.
Josh Butler, a 17-year-old A-level student from Brigshaw High School, scored five of their 15 tries, while another teenager, 18-year-old Nathan Collins, was named Player of the Match as Rhinos continued their unbeaten 2019 season.
— Leeds Rhinos WSC (@LeedsRhinosWSC) August 18, 2019
“It’s a great day for the club,” said James Simpson, the Rhinos captain who has also been appointed an ambassador for the Rugby League World Cup 2021.
“We suffered some big defeats when we started playing a few years ago, but we’ve grown up together. Apart from me as the old bloke, we’re still a young team. Nathan and Josh were both outstanding today, and it’s exciting to think how good they could become – especially as we look ahead to 2021. But this was a real team effort, and I think our strength in depth made a big difference.
“The Argonauts have some brilliant players themselves, several of them on the England Performance Unit. But we were able to mix and match a bit more which meant we were fresher as each half went on.
“It’s great for Leeds to have won two Challenge Cups in the space of a couple of weeks, and I think that shows how much the game is coming on in these different areas.
“The past 48 hours has been awesome with the amount of media coverage we’ve had, and to have had this game shown live on Our League and by the IPC has been incredible exposure for our club and the sport.”
Ralph Rimmer, the chief executive of the Rugby Football League who presented the trophy to Simpson, said: “Days like this are special for the sport. We’ve had two great games, at a venue which has shown what an asset it will be in the World Cup in 2021.
“Some of the rugby played by Leeds and The Argonauts in the Challenge Cup Final has been mesmerising. I don’t think you’d find anyone who’s been here today, or who has watched on Our League, who wouldn’t be keen to see some more.”