London Broncos defied the odds to make Super League return


Top-flight rugby league will return to South London in 2024 following the London Broncos’ dramatic against-the-odds performances in the Championship play-offs.

The Broncos only narrowly avoided relegation in 2022 and many expected the team to struggle again this time around.

Therefore, to end the regular season in fifth place and to be part of the play-offs was already viewed by most onlookers to be a successful campaign.

The way that the play-offs are structured meant the Plough Lane-based side needed to win three games – all away from home and all against teams that finished above them in the league – in order to be promoted.

Six wins from the last seven league games had provided some cause for optimism among Broncos fans. But most observers outside of the capital predicted that promotion would go to either Featherstone Rovers or Toulouse Olympique, who occupied the top two spots in the division.

The first challenge in the play-offs was an away tie at fourth-placed Sheffield Eagles- a tough fixture on paper but the Broncos put in an exceptional performance to come home with a 42-0 win.

This earned them a semi-final at table-topping Featherstone Rovers.

The West Yorkshire outfit had comfortably beaten the Broncos twice during the regular season and this was expected to be a step too far for Mike Eccles’ men. Another mammoth effort saw them take control of the match and a late comeback by Featherstone was not enough to deny London a
36 -26 victory.

A Grand Final appearance against Toulouse was the prize with the winner of that earning promotion to the Super League.

Broncos fans were scrambling to find last-minute flights to France for the occasion and those that did witnessed a night that will live long in the memory. Plough Lane had also been opened for the occasion, so that those who could not travel could gather and watch the match together in familiar territory.

London Broncos Head Coach Mike Eccles before the Betfred Championship match between London Broncos and Widnes Vikings at Plough Lane, Wimbledon, England on 10 September 2023. Photo by Alan Stanford / PRiME Media Images

At half time, things were not looking good for London as Toulouse were playing well and had built up a commanding 14-4 lead.

Broncos looked a different side after the break and tries from Alex Walker and a brace from Iliess Macani edged them ahead before some resolute defending gave them a hard-fought 18 – 14 win.

This sparked scenes of wild celebrations in a corner of the Stade Ernest-Wallon and also back home in Wimbledon.

Speaking with Viaplay after the game, Broncos director of rugby and performance Eccles, inset, said: “It has been a surreal three weeks – to go to Sheffield, Featherstone and Toulouse. I am proud of everyone. We have been through a difficult couple of years but we have found our fabric as a club.”

Rugby League is preparing for a restructure of the entire three division system in 2025 and if the London Broncos are to extend their stay in the top flight beyond one year then it would require something remarkable both on and off the pitch.

For now, the dream of welcoming the likes of Wigan, St Helens and Leeds to Wimbledon has become a reality.

It will require some astute signings over the winter to strengthen the squad in order to compete with some of the world’s best but for fans of Rugby League in London, February can’t come soon enough.


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2 thoughts on “London Broncos defied the odds to make Super League return

  • Excellent article. Great to see Rugby League being covered, more please.

  • Jeff Rolland

    Great article. There’s definitely a feel-good factor around the Broncos, but also an underlying core of being an underdog side away from the sport’s heartlands. A great sport for the casual sports fan to enjoy.


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