Rugby Super League (United States)

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Rugby Super League
Current season, competition or edition:
2012 Rugby Super League season
US Rugby Super League Logo.png
Sport Rugby union
Founded 1996
No. of teams 8
Country  United States
Most recent champion(s) New York Athletic Club (2012)
Official website

The USA Rugby Super League, usually referred to as simply the Super League, was a national rugby union competition, now formally replaced by the USA Rugby Elite Cup. It was contested by eight clubs in the United States. The competition was sanctioned by USA Rugby, the sport's national governing body, and was the "premier level" of rugby union in the country until it was reformatted into the Elite Cup.[1][2]

The competition was created by the management of 14 of the best rugby organizations in the US. The goal was to create a high level, national rugby competition in the United States. The competition was then contested annually. The largest number of clubs to have competed in the league was 18, in 2007 and 2008; however, during the recent 2011 season, there were 11 teams divided into two conferences, Red and Blue. The 2012 season had 9 teams, again divided into Red and Blue conferences. There were finally 8 teams in the Rugby Super League, the majority of which now compete in the USA Rugby Elite Cup.


The Rugby Super League was created at a time when there was a need for expansion of the highest level of competitive rugby in the country. 1997 was subsequently the inaugural season of the competition. There were 14 teams competing, which were divided into two seven-team divisions, the Western-Pacific Conference and the Midwestern-East Conference.

The original competing sides in the 1997 season were; Belmont Shore RFC, the Chicago Lions, the Dallas Harlequins, the Denver Barbarians, the Gentlemen of Aspen, the Kansas City Blues, Life, Old Blue, Old Puget Sound Beach RFC, Old Mission Beach Athletic Club RFC, the Potomac Athletic Club RFC, Old Blues Rugby Club (CA), Golden Gate Rugby Club and Washington RFC. Aspen won the first championship, defeating Old Blue 22 points to eight in the final which was played in San Diego.[3]

The following season, two more sides gained entry into the competition, Boston RFC and the Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC. Both teams joined the eastern conference, which saw the Harlequins move to the Western conference. This expansion saw two fifteen-team conferences. In 2001 the competition became recognized as the premier club rugby union competition in the United States - becoming separated from USA Rugby Division 1. The following season, the league expanded again, with the inclusion of New York Athletic Club, who gained entry through means of promotion and the Hayward Rugby, who formed a merger with Old Blues.

The 2002 season saw major changes to the competition, with the "east and west divisions" format being dissolved to form a national competition. The format reverted to the division-associated fixtures in 2005. Super League celebrated a decade of competition in 2006, with OMBAC defeating Belmont Shore 36 to 33 in the final which was held in Santa Clara, California. It was announced after the 2006 season that the Rugby Super League would be expanding from 15 teams to 18 for the 2007 season. Santa Monica Rugby accepted an invitation to join Super League, as did the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, who also finished runner-up in both Divisions I and III in 2006.[4] The Chicago Griffins also joined to replace the Kansas City Blues, who self-relegated their club to the USA Rugby Division I men's club competition.

A major event took place in the 2008 season, with the live broadcast on ESPN Classic of the RSL Final between NYAC and Belmont Shore. It was an extremely hard fought match that saw NYAC winning 31-28 in sudden death. The league featured 16 teams in two conferences in 2009. Philadelphia Whitemarsh, Washington RFC, and the St. Louis Bombers did not return to the competition, while Life University returned after a six-season absence.

Because of the ongoing economic crisis, before the 2010 season longtime RSL powers Belmont Shore decided to only compete in Southern California's Division I competition. In response to this, Santa Monica also decided to self-relegate. Because of the uneven conferences, Dallas was shifted to the Red (West) Conference and no new teams were added, dropping the number to 14. In August 2010 the Boston Irish Wolfhounds also relegated themselves. In the fall of 2011, PAC Rugby withdrew from the competition and the Utah Warriors, based in Salt Lake City, entered the competition. The Chicago Lions and Utah Warriors withdrew prior to the 2012 season.[5] The Chicago Griffins announced their withdrawal following the 2012 season.[6] The RSL currently stands as an 8-team competition with two divisions.

Competition Format[edit]

Results (1997-present)[edit]

Year Location Final[7]
Winner Score Runner-up
1997 San Diego, California Aspen 22 - 8 Old Blue
1998 Boston, Massachusetts Belmont Shore 28 - 10 Old Blue
1999 Denver, Colorado Denver Barbarians 22 - 18 Belmont Shore
2000 San Diego, California Life 43 - 21 Aspen
2001 Rockford, Illinois Aspen 56 - 21 OMBAC
2002 Aspen, Colorado Aspen 34 - 23 Belmont Shore
2003 San Francisco, California Belmont Shore 23 - 15 OMBAC
2004 Newport, Rhode Island Belmont Shore 24 - 21 San Francisco Golden Gate
2005 Rentschler Field
East Hartford, Connecticut
NYAC 23 - 19 Belmont Shore
2006 Buck Shaw Stadium
Santa Clara, California
OMBAC 36 - 33 Belmont Shore
2007 The Little Q Rugby Field
San Diego, California
Belmont Shore 27 - 21 Chicago Lions
2008 Infinity Park
Glendale, Colorado
NYAC 31 - 28 (OT) Belmont Shore
2009 Infinity Park
Glendale, Colorado
San Francisco Golden Gate 23 - 13 Life
2010 Rocca Field
San Francisco, California
NYAC 28 – 25 San Francisco Golden Gate
2011[8] International Sport Complex
Marietta, Georgia
San Francisco Golden Gate 20 - 15 Life
2012 Magnuson Park
Seattle, Washington
NYAC 32 - 29 Old Puget Sound Beach

Results by Club[edit]

Team Winners Runners-up Years won Years losing finalist
Belmont Shore 4 5 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008
NYAC 4 0 2005, 2008, 2010,2012
Aspen 3 1 1997, 2001, 2002 2000
San Francisco Golden Gate 2 2 2009, 2011 2004, 2010
Life 1 2 2000 2009, 2011
OMBAC 1 2 2006 2001, 2003
Denver Barbarians 1 0 1999
Old Blue 0 2 1997, 1998
Chicago Lions 0 1 2007
Old Puget Sound Beach 0 1 2012

See also[edit]


External links[edit]