| Current season or competition:
Super League XVIII
|Sport||Rugby league football|
|Formerly known as||Rugby Football League season|
|Chairman||Maurice Watkins (interim)|
|Number of teams||14|
|Most titles||Leeds Rhinos (6 titles)|
Super League began in 1996, replacing the RFL Championship and switching from a winter to a summer season. Each team plays 27 games between February and September: 13 home games, 13 away games and a Magic Weekend game at a neutral venue. At the end of the season, the top eight teams enter play-offs leading to the Grand Final which determines the champions.
- capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.
1996-2001 - Establishment
The competition was first mooted during the Australian Super League war as a way for Rupert Murdoch to gain the upper hand during the battle for broadcasting supremacy with the Australian Rugby League. Murdoch also approached the British clubs to form Super League. A large sum of money aided the decision, and the competition got under way in 1996. Part of the deal saw rugby league switch from a winter to a summer season.
"Supporters will see a better game in better surroundings, and the deal will see their sport receive a greater profile nationally and internationally."
Rodney Walker, RFL chairman, welcomes Super League, 5 April 1995
Initially, several mergers between existing clubs were proposed:
- Castleford, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers would form Calder
- Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers would form Hull
- Whitehaven, Workington Town, Barrow and Carlisle would form Cumbria
- Warrington and Widnes were to form Cheshire
- Salford and Oldham were to form Manchester
- Sheffield and Doncaster were to form South Yorkshire
However this proved so unpopular that only existing clubs were selected for the competition. The clubs finishing below 10th in the existing top flight were excluded, which meant Featherstone Rovers, Hull, Wakefield Trinity and Widnes were left out, as were pioneering club Keighley Cougars who had just won the Second Division Championship. London Broncos, who had come fourth in the Second Division, were “fast-tracked” in on commercial grounds. A new team, Paris Saint-Germain, was created to give a French dimension.
2002-2008 - Promotion and Relegation
After two years Paris were dropped from the competition. Promotion and relegation between Super League and the Rugby League National Leagues was re-introduced, and in 2002 the SLE governing body re-integrated fully into the Rugby Football League. For most intents and purposes, Super League became a re-titled first division of British rugby league. In 2006, French side Catalans Dragons (also known as UTC or Les Catalans) from Perpignan joined the league, becoming the second non-English team to compete. In order to facilitate this move, two clubs were relegated from Super League at the end of the 2005 season, Leigh who finished bottom of the league were replaced by the one club coming up from the National Leagues and Widnes who finished 11th (and would have stayed up any other year) were dropped for Les Catalans, thus the number of clubs in Super League remained at 12.
2009-2014 - Licensing
Super League licences were announced in May 2005 by the Rugby Football League (RFL) as the new determinant of the Super League competition's participants from 2009 in place of promotion and relegation. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than just the on-the-field performance of a club. After 2007 automatic promotion and relegation was suspended for Super League with new teams to be admitted on a licence basis with the term of the licence to start in 2009.
The RFL stated that clubs applying to compete in Super League would be assessed by criteria in four areas (stadium facilities, finance and business performance, commercial and marketing and playing strength, including junior production and development) with the final evaluations and decisions being taken by the RFL Board of Directors.
Successful applicants would be licensed for three years of Super League competition. Three-yearly reviews of Super League membership will take place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.
Points attained by each club's application are translated into license grades A, B or C. Clubs who achieved an A or B Licence would be automatically awarded a place in Super League, while those who achieve a C Licence will undergo further scrutiny before the RFL decide who makes the final cut.
First Licensing Period
In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009, and on July 22, 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licenses. The teams announced were the 12 existing Super League teams along with National League 1 teams, Celtic Crusaders and Salford City Reds. Celtic Crusaders becoming the first Welsh team to play in Super League and the only team awarded licenses who had never played in the Super League previously.
Leigh Centurions, Featherstone Rovers, Widnes Vikings and Halifax all failed to attain a licence. Leigh and Widnes, especially, were disappointed with their exclusions with Leigh's chairman being extremely critical of the RFL.
Second Licensing Period
For the 2012–2014 seasons Championship sides Widnes Vikings, Halifax RLFC, Barrow Raiders, Featherstone Rovers, and Batley Bulldogs all met the on-field criteria needed to submit an application, but despite this only Widnes, Halifax and Barrow decided to submit an application. On March 31, 2011 Widnes Vikings were awarded a Super League licence; Barrow Raiders, did not meet the criteria and were refused a licence; and Halifax's application would be further considered alongside the other Super League clubs.
The Rugby Football League's final decision was announced on July 26, 2011, Widnes would be joining thirteen existing Super League teams, Crusaders RL having withdrawn their application and Halifax not meeting the criteria. Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the clubs finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League. Halifax chairman Mark Steele was critical of the decision to award Wakefield a licence over themselves, saying "If you compare Belle Vue with The Shay, it's no contest; if you compare playing records, it's no contest; and if you compare the financial position, we have kept our head above water and they haven't." Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal.
Super League Championships
- See Rugby Football League Championship for the all-time list of champions since 1895.
The League format changed in 1998 and the championship became a play off series to determine the Super League champions. This meant a reintroduction of a Final to determine the British champions, the first since the 1972–73 season.
|Season||Grand Final Information||League Leaders|
|1998||Wigan Warriors||10–4||Leeds Rhinos||Wigan Warriors|
|1999||St Helens||8–6||Bradford Bulls||Bradford Bulls|
|2000||St Helens||29–16||Wigan Warriors||Wigan Warriors|
|2001||Bradford Bulls||37–6||Wigan Warriors||Bradford Bulls|
|2002||St Helens||19–18||Bradford Bulls||St Helens|
|2003||Bradford Bulls||25–12||Wigan Warriors||Bradford Bulls|
|2004||Leeds Rhinos||16–8||Bradford Bulls||Leeds Rhinos|
|2005||Bradford Bulls||15–6||Leeds Rhinos||St Helens|
|2006||St Helens||26–4||Hull F.C.||St Helens|
|2007||Leeds Rhinos||33–6||St Helens||St Helens|
|2008||Leeds Rhinos||24–16||St Helens||St Helens|
|2009||Leeds Rhinos||18–10||St Helens||Leeds Rhinos|
|2010||Wigan Warriors||22–10||St Helens||Wigan Warriors|
|2011||Leeds Rhinos||32–16||St Helens||Warrington Wolves|
|2012||Leeds Rhinos||26–18||Warrington Wolves||Wigan Warriors|
Below are some of the rules used in Super League
Club trained player
The ‘club trained player’ rule stipulates that each club must have a minimum number of players who are aged under 21 years or are graduates from their own academy system in their 25 man first team squad. Clubs are also required to have a minimum number of UK-trained players (or in the case of the Dragons, France-trained players) in their squads, and also are limited to a maximum number of "overseas" trained players.
The table below shows how the figures for the ruling from 2008–2011.
|club trained players|
|Year||home grown players (min)||UK trained players (min)||overseas trained players (max)|
Clubs in both the Engage Super League and the Co-operative Championships are to benefit from the new dual registration system which was been introduced for the 2010 season.
Dual registration refers to an arrangement between clubs whereby a player continues to be registered to his current Super League club and is also registered to play for a club in the Championship or Championship 1.
The dual registration system is aimed at young Super League players who are thought to be not quite ready to make the step up to ‘week in, week out’ Super League first team duties but for whom first team match experience is likely to be beneficial for their development.
- Only Engage Super League players can be dual registered and the receiving club must be a club in the Championships, meaning that Super League to Super League club dual registrations are not available.
- The player must be under 23 on August 31 in the year preceding the season in which the proposed dual registration will apply so for 2010, players who were not yet 23 on August 31, 2009 can be dual registered.
- A dual registered player will be eligible to play and train with both clubs in a format agreed between the clubs, subject to registration, salary cap and competition eligibility rules.
- The player is restricted to playing in one fixture per scheduled round of fixtures in any given week and would not be eligible to play in a Championships fixture on a Thursday and for his Super League club at the weekend.
The new ‘dual registration’ system is intended to complement the existing player loan system.
The current limit on the number of players a receiving club can utilise will also apply to ‘dual registered’ players. Therefore a receiving club will be limited to a total of four loaned and/or dual registered players, and no more than three loaned and/or dual registered players from the same club.
The Super League operates under a salary cap system that will calculate a club’s salary cap position at the start of and throughout the season.
- The combined earnings of the top 25 players must not exceed £1.65 million.
- Clubs will only be allowed to sign a new player if they have room under the cap.
- Clubs are allowed to spend a maximum of £50,000 on players outside the top 25 earners who have made at least one first grade appearance for the club during the year.
- Costs for players outside of the top 25 earners who do not make a first team appearance will be unregulated.
- Any player who has played for the same club for at least 10 consecutive seasons will have half their salary excluded from the salary cap for his 11th and subsequent seasons. This is subject to a maximum of £50,000 for any one club.
Squad announcement system
League regular season
From 2009, 14 teams compete in Super League. They play each other twice on a home-and-away basis, interrupted by the Magic Weekend round. Prior to the expansion from 12 teams, an additional four fixtures were played (prior to the introduction of Millennium Magic in 2007, an additional six fixtures were added). After the 27 rounds, a play-off structure is used to determine the two teams who will meet in the Super League Grand Final to decide the championship.
The Super League play-offs are contested by the eight sides finishing highest in the league. The structure is designed to reward the teams finishing nearer the top. From 2009, the winning team from Week One with the highest League placing will be allowed to select their next opponents in Week Three. The Grand Final is played at Old Trafford. The current Super League Play-off structure:
Four matches will take place on Week One, effectively in two pools: the Qualifying Play-offs and the Elimination Play-offs
These matches involve the teams who finish in the top four. They are:
1st v 4th 2nd v 3rd
The winners of these two games will progress directly to Week 3. The highest ranked winning club will have Club Call, whereby they choose their opponents in Week 3
The losers of these two matches will have another chance in Week 2 when they will be at home to the winners of the Week 1 Elimination Play-Offs.
5th v 8th 6th v 7th
• The winners of both matches will progress to Week 2, losers are eliminated.
There are two matches in Week 2, called the Preliminary Semi-finals.
Preliminary Semi-Final One
Highest ranked Qualifying Play-off Loser (1st, 2nd or 3rd) v lowest ranked Elimination Play-off Winner (6th, 7th or 8th)
• Winners to Club Call • Loser eliminated
Preliminary Semi-Final Two
Lowest ranked Qualifying Play-off Loser (2nd, 3rd or 4th) v Highest ranked Elimination Play-off Winner (5th, 6th or 7th)
• Winners to Club Call • Loser eliminated
Club Call will take place on the second weekend of the play-offs and will be hosted by the highest ranked winning club from Week 1.
The host club will select who they play in Week 3 and can only select from the winners of the two Preliminary Semi-finals (Week 2) – they cannot choose the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.
The highest ranked club from the Qualifying Play-offs (Week one) must choose their opponents – they cannot cede the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.
The team with Club Call and the other Qualifying Play-off winners from Week 1 are guaranteed home advantage in Week 3. For example, should the teams that ended the regular season in 1st and 2nd place lose their opening play-off match, they could still find themselves playing away to the 3rd or 4th placed teams in Week 3.
Two matches again, losers eliminated from each, winners go through to contest the Grand Final.
Qualifying Semi-Final One Highest ranked QPO Winner v Club Call selected PSF winner
Qualifying Semi-Final Two Second ranked QPO Winner v Club Call Non Selected PSF Winner
Super League Grand Final
Can any team have Club Call?
No. The highest ranked winning club from Week 1 will have Club Call, whereby they choose their opponents in Week 3. Only a team that ended the regular season in 1st, 2nd or 3rd can win Club Call.
Will the teams who finished 1st or 2nd at the end of the regular season be guaranteed home advantage in Week 3 should they progress?
No. The two highest rank teams after Week 1 (the team with Club Call and the other Qualifying Play-off winners) are guaranteed home advantage in Week 3. For example, should the teams that ended the regular season in 1st and 2nd place lose their opening play-off match, they could still find themselves playing away to the 3rd or 4th placed teams in Week 3.
Does the Club Call team have to choose their opponents or can they relinquish the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner?
The highest ranked club from the Qualifying Play-offs (Week 1) must choose their opponents – they cannot relinquish the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner. In addition, they can only select from the winners of the two Preliminary Semi-finals (Week 2) – they cannot choose the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.
Trophies and awards
The League Leader's Shield is a trophy awarded to the team finishing the season top of Super League which is also known as a minor premiership. League Leader's Shield was introduced only in 2003, previously no prize was awarded to the team finishing top following the introduction of the Super League Grand Final.
Each season a Super League Dream Team is also named. The best thirteen players in their respective positions are voted for by members of the sports press.
The Man of Steel Award is an annual award for the best player of the season in Super League. It has continued from pre-Super League times, with the first such award given in 1977.
The winner of the Grand Final is given the Super League Trophy as Super League Champions. This is considered more prestigious than a minor premiership. Each year, the year of a champion team's triumph, team name and team captain are engraved.
The record for most Super League titles won is held by Leeds Rhinos who have won the title 6 times in 2004, '07, '08, '09, '11 & '12. Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield holds the record for captaining the most Super League title winning sides as he captained Leeds in all 6 of their grand final successes. St Helens contested the final 6 years in a row (from 2006 until 2011) during which time they succeeded only once in lifting the trophy against Hull in 2006; after which they suffered consecutive defeats against Leeds Rhinos in 2007, 2008, 2009, Wigan Warriors in 2010 and Leeds Rhinos once again in 2011.
- Stones Bitter 1996-1997
- JJB Sports 1998-1999
- Tetley's Bitter 2000-2004
- Engage Mutual Assurance 2005-2011
- Stobart Group 2012
Sky Sports have been the primary broadcast partner of Super League since its inaugural season in 1996. Sky Sports continue to have the rights to show live Super League games in both Ireland and the United Kingdom; two live matches are broadcast each week – one on Friday Night at 7:30pm and another at 6pm on Saturdays. Each time a Super League match is televised on Sky Sports, title sponsor Engage Mutual donates £100 to The Steve Prescott Foundation and a further £100 to a charity of the player's choice.
Regular commentators are Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson with summarisers including Phil Clarke, Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor. Live Super League broadcasts regularly rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on Sky Sports with in excess of 250,000 viewers. Match highlights are shown on Boots N' All which is shown on Sky Sports and is rebroadcast on the Internet.
BBC Sport broadcast a highlights programme called the Super League Show, usually presented by Harry Gration. The BBC have elected to broadcast this only to the North West, Yorkshire & North Midlands, North East & Cumbria, and East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire regions on a Sunday. A national repeat has been broadcast overnight during the week since February 2008, the BBC Director of Sport, Roger Mosey, commented that this move was in response to the growing popularity and awareness of the sport, and the large number of requests from people who want to watch it elsewhere in the UK. End of season play-offs are shown across the whole country in a highlights package. Super League Show is available for streaming or downloaded using the BBC iPlayer in the UK.
Orange Sport TV in France shows every Catalans Dragons home match live and also some other matches which are broadcast in the UK live on Sky.
Internationally Super League is shown live on Showtime Sports (Middle East), Sky Sport (New Zealand), NTV+ (Russia), Sportklub (Eastern Europe). In 2009, the Nine Network in Australia will show up to 70 live games. However in 2010, due to poor ratings the Super League games are now being screened after midnight very late on Sunday and Monday nights. The Super League matches are only broadcast in Queensland, New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory as all of these areas are places where Rugby League (coverage of the National Rugby League competition in particular) is a popular sport to play and watch on television. Previously, FOX Sports in Australia had shown the previous weekend's UK televised matches on Thursday nights.
Super League is covered extensively by BBC Local Radio:
- BBC Radio Manchester cover Wigan, Salford and Warrington.
- BBC Radio Humberside cover Hull FC and Hull KR.
- BBC Radio Leeds cover Bradford, Leeds, Castleford, Wakefield and Huddersfield.
- BBC Radio Merseyside cover St Helens, Warrington and Widnes.
- BBC Radio London cover the Broncos.
The competition is also covered on commercial radio coverage:
- Yorkshire Radio cover all seven Yorkshire clubs and have 50 commentaries per season.
- Wish FM have full match commentary on Wigan Warriors and St Helens matches home and away.
- Wire FM have full match commentary Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings matches home and away.
- BCB 106.6 (Bradford Community Broadcasting) have full match commentary on Bradford Bulls home and away.
- Grand Sud FM covers every Catalans Dragons Home Match (in French).
- Radio France Bleu Roussillon covers every Catalans Dragons Away Match (in French).
All Super League commentaries on any station are available via the particular stations on-line streaming.
ESPN3, formerly ESPN360, has had worldwide broadband rights since 2007 when they broadcast the 2007 Grand Final.
Since 9 April 2009, all of the matches shown on Sky Sports have also been available live online via Livestation everywhere in the world excluding the US, Puerto Rico, UK, Ireland, France, Monaco, Australia and New Zealand. List of Super League games available on Livestation.com
In the United Kingdom, a number of commercial radio stations, along with many local BBC radio stations simulcast commentary of Super League games on the internet.
Teams that have played in Super League
In an attempt to expand out of the traditional rugby league "heartlands", and market the game to a wider audience, the RFL has staged games in large stadia, in places without a strong rugby league presence. The "Magic Weekends" concept, which involves staging an entire round of Super League in such a stadium, was first staged in Cardiff in 2007. Dubbed "Millennium Magic", and played in the Millennium Stadium, the concept was held in Cardiff again in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the event was held in Edinburgh at the Scottish national rugby union stadium, giving rise to the name changing to "Murrayfield Magic". Generally held during the May Day weekend, 2011 saw the Magic Weekend return to Cardiff, and was held during the weekend 12–13 February, and serving as the season opener.
In 2010 the following teams will run in each of the Academy divisions:
- The under-20s competition will be a full league with 20 rounds and top 6 play-offs. The under-18s, under-16s and under-15s will be non-competitive and feature eight rounds in under-18s and 6 in under-16s and under-15s.
- The under-20s competition is strictly restricted to Super League clubs only (Championship and Championship 1 sides having their own reserve grade), the under-18s is only open to either Super League clubs or Championship sides that meet very stringent criteria. The under-16s and under-15s are open to all Super League, Championship and Championship 1 sides.
- Catalans Dragons run their lower grade sides in the French league.
- Crusaders run their under-18 team in the Gilette National Youth League and are unable to run an under-20 team.
- Super League records
- Super League war
- British rugby league system
- Rugby League Challenge Cup
- World Club Challenge
- Rugby League National Leagues
- List of sports attendance figures
- Super League Dream Team
- Super League Ultimate 13: Grand Final Team
- Super League Reserve Team Championship
- Engage Charity Man of the Match Award
- ARL final series
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- RFL Super League coverage
- Scores from Sky Sports
- The Sun | Super League news, results, fixtures, tables