Super League

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Super League
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event Super League XXVII
Super League logo 2017.jpg
The competition's logo from 2017-19
SportRugby league
Founded1996; 26 years ago (1996)
No. of teams12
Country England
 France
Most recent
champion(s)
Saintscolours.svg St Helens
(10th title)
Most titlesSaintscolours.svg St Helens
(10 titles)
TV partner(s)
Level on pyramid1
Relegation toChampionship
Domestic cup(s)Challenge Cup
International cup(s)World Club Challenge
Official websitesuperleague.co.uk

The Super League (officially known as the Betfred Super League due to sponsorship from Betfred and legally known as Super League Europe),[1][2] is the top-level of the British rugby league system. At present the league consists of twelve teams, of which eleven are from Northern England, reflecting the sport's geographic heartland within the UK, and one from southern France.

The Super League began in 1996, replacing the existing First Division and, significantly, switching from a traditional winter season to a summer season.

Each team plays 27 games between February and September: 11 home games, 11 away games, Magic Weekend and an additional 4 'loop fixtures' decided by league positions. The top six then enter the play-off series leading to the Grand Final which determines the champions. The bottom team is relegated to the Championship.

In a recent tradition, the Super League champions play the National Rugby League champions from Australasia in the World Club Challenge at the start of the following season.

History[edit]

Background[edit]

During the 1950s, British rugby league experienced a boom in popularity. However the twenty years that followed saw attendances and popularity decline. A ‘Super League’ was first suggested as far back as the 1970s as a way to address the decline. By the early 1990s the sport was still struggling with dwindling attendances, poor facilities and was dominated by one club Wigan who were the only full time professional team.

By 1992 then Chief Executive of the Rugby Football League, Maurice Lindsay brought up a serious idea for a Super League. He wanted the new league to break the stereotype of rugby league being a sport only played in Northern England and had a vision for clubs to play out of new facilities under a set of minimum standards in an unpublished document he called ‘Framing the Future’.

1990-1996: Establishment[edit]

Lindsay’s Super League was given a boost during the mid 90s Australian Super League war. A Rupert Murdoch backed Super League in Australia was trying to gain broadcasting supremacy over the Australian Rugby League. In an attempt to gain the upper hand, Murdoch, whose broadcasting company bSkyb already had the rights to the First Division, approached the RFL.

A £77 million offer[3] and an £87 million payment[4] aided the decision. It was agreed a 14 team Super League would take place in 1996, switching the sport from winter to summer and making every team full time.

As part of the agreement, Super League would be a European competition to break free from its Northern stereotype. Rugby league held a traditional heartland in the South of France and so Toulouse Olympique were invited. A second club from the French leagues was also planned to be invited but the French government refused their backing unless there was a team from Paris, thus Paris Saint Germain were founded as the second French club playing under the same name and colours as the football club.

As well as two French clubs being involved, several merges between English clubs were put forward:

The proposal to merge neighbouring clubs, many who were local rivals and had been part of communities for a hundred year proved unpopular. On Good Friday 1995 it was announced Toulouse had pulled out and Widnes had their own place alongside Warrington, this as well as anti merger campaigns and debates in parliament effectively killing any change of mergers happening.

The first major change before the Super League happened in the 1994-95 season. It was decided the teams finishing in the top ten of the First Division would be in the Super League. Teams finishing 11-15 would be relegated to the Second Division while the bottom team would be relegated to the new Third Division. In the current Second Division the top 7 teams would remain while the rest would make up the Third Division.

Controversy occurred at the end of 1994-95 when Keighley won the Second Division but were denied promotion due to fourth placed London Broncos being fast tracked to the First Division as Lindsay wanted Super League to have a more national coverage. This resulted in a legal challenge from Keighley and Widnes who were both denied a place in Super League.

The 1995-96 season would be the last to be played in winter and fittingly was the sports centenary year. The season was kept short, starting in August and finishing in January while the 1995 World Cup taking place in October.

1996-1997: First seasons[edit]

Super League finally kicked off in 1996 with the 12 founding teams being:

Along with the new league, new rules were introduced. Squad numbers were adopted, a video referee was at every televised game and the salary cap was introduced to stop clubs overspending and to allow for a more level playing field. Super League was also more Americanised with clubs adopting nicknames and the league seasons copying the NFL Super Bowl by being known as a Roman numeral rather than year (e.g. Super League 1996 was known as Super League I).

The first game was on 29 March which saw PSG beat Sheffield 30-24 in front of 17,873 people at Charlety Stadium. The inaugural Super League title was won by St Helens, breaking Wigans stronghold for the first time since 1989 while Workington were relegated.

St Helens we’re unable to defend their title as Super Leagues second season was won by the Bradford Bulls with London Broncos justifying the decision to be fast tracked into Super League by finishing second. Oldham we’re relegated and PSG, who had finished 11th for the second consecutive time were dissolved after it was discovered some of their overseas players had tourist visas to avoid paying French tax.

1998-2005: Grand Final and expansion[edit]

Due to Oldham being relegated and PSG folding, two teams, Hull Sharks and Huddersfield Giants, were promoted. It was also announced ahead of the 1998 season that there would be no relegation as the league planned to expand to 14 teams from 1999.

The other major change was that a playoff would decide the Champions. This was not new to rugby league as a playoff system had been in use for most of the sports existence although one hadn’t been used since 1973. Confusingly a playoff did take place at the end of the season but was separate from the official league season and thus didn’t count towards anything. Old Trafford the venue for the old Premiership Playoff Final would be used to host the new Grand Final in which the top five Super League teams would contest.

The first Grand Final took place at Old Trafford in front of a sellout crowd of 40,000 who watched Wigan defeat Leeds 12-8, their first league title since the old First Division.

Ahead of the expansion to 14 clubs Wakefield Trinity were promoted from the Second Division and a new club, Gateshead Thunder were awarded a place in Super League in 1999, which was won by St Helens who beat Bradford in the Grand Final.

Gateshead had a successful debut season on the field finishing tow points off the playoffs however off the field the club was suffering financial difficulties. By the end of the season Gateshead announced they would merge with Hull Sharks who were to revert to being known as Hull FC. Gateshead weren’t the only club struggling, Sheffield announced they could no longer continue and merged with Huddersfield and would be known as Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants. Due to these two clubs resigning from the league it was agreed Super League would revert to 12 teams after just one season.

Relegation was reintroduced in 2001 with one team going down each year. The only major change to the league was in 2002 when the playoffs were expanded to six teams. The League Leaders Shield was introduced in 2003 to reward the team who finished top at the end of the regular season.

In 2005 it was announced a franchise was to be awarded to a French club, with Toulouse, Villeneuve and Catalans Dragons all applying. In the end Catalans, who were only founded in 2000 after a merger between two Perpignan based clubs, were chosen. Their debut season would be in 2006 and they would be exempt from relegation for the first three years. Their inclusion in Super League meant two clubs would be relegated in 2005. Bottom team Leigh we’re relegated with 11th placed Widnes.

2005–2013: Licensing[edit]

By the mid 2000s Super League hadn’t exactly become what people hoped it would. Standards on the field had improved and attendances increased but many clubs still played out of crumbling stadiums and most of the sport was still played in the North of England. There was also the emergence of the ‘Big Four’ (Bradford, Leeds, Wigan & St Helens) who were dominating the league during its first 10 seasons.

In May 2005 to try and combat the issues facing Super League, the RFL announced licences were announced as the new determinant of the Super League competition's participants from 2009 with relegation scrapped, two new teams would expand the league to 14. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than simply the on-the-field performance of a club.[5] 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.[5]

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.[6]

Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competition and[7] three-yearly reviews of Super League membership took place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.[6]

Points attained by each club's application are translated into licence grades A, B or C. Clubs who achieved an A or B Licence would be automatically awarded a place in the Super League, while those who achieved a C Licence underwent further scrutiny before the RFL decided who made the final cut.[8]

First licensing period

In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that the Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009 with the playoffs also expanding to 8 teams,[9][10] and on 22 July 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licences.[11] The teams announced were the 12 existing Super League teams along with National League 1 teams, Celtic Crusaders and Salford. Celtic Crusaders becoming the first Welsh team to play in Super League and the only team to be awarded a licence who had never played in the Super League previously.

Featherstone Rovers, Halifax, Leigh and Widnes 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.[12]

By the end of the 2008 season, Salford and Celtic Crusaders finished 13th and 14th respectively and the Grand Final was won by the League Leaders, Leeds Rhinos for a fourth time. The following season Crusaders made the playoffs but were knocked out in the first round. League Leaders Wigan won the Grand Final.

By 2011 the Crusaders were suffering financial difficulties and entered administration and were deducted four points. Salford on the other hand despite never making the playoffs in the three years since they were promoted were in a much better financial position.

During this period the league was being dominated by Leeds and St Helens with Leeds winning 3 titles and St Helens appearing in every Grand Final.

Second licensing period

For the 2012–14 seasons Championship sides Batley, Barrow, Featherstone Rovers, Halifax and Widnes all met the on-field criteria needed to submit an application,[13] but despite this only Barrow, Halifax and Widnes decided to submit an application.[14] On 31 March 2011 Widnes were awarded a Super League licence; Barrow, did not meet the criteria and were refused a licence; and Halifax's application was to be further considered alongside the other Super League clubs.[15]

The Rugby Football League's final decision was announced on 26 July 2011, Widnes would be joining thirteen existing Super League teams with Crusaders having withdrawn their application and Halifax being refused a license.[16] Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the club's finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League.[17] 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."[17] Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal.[17]

2013–2018: Super 8s[edit]

After two licensing periods the system started to fall out of favour. Some highlighted the failure of clubs such as Wakefield and Castleford to build new stadiums but were twice awarded licenses over Championship clubs who many thought would be better suited to Super League. There was also unrest in the Championship with clubs feeling their success on the pitch should be rewarded.

At the 2013 Annual General Meeting in Bradford, the Super League clubs agreed to reduce the number of clubs to 12 from 2015, and also for a return of Promotion and Relegation with a 12 club Championship.[18]

A radical new league structure was proposed. The 12 Super League and 12 Championship clubs would play each other home and away over 22 rounds, plus a Magic Weekend for both divisions, making a 23-game regular season. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 24 clubs then competed in a play-off series where they split into 3 leagues of 8 based upon league position:[19][20]

  • The top 8 Super League clubs continued to compete in the Super 8s. After playing each other once (either home or away), the top 4 clubs progressed to the semi-finals to determine who competed in the Grand Final to be crowned champions.
  • The remaining (bottom 4) Super League clubs and the top 4 Championship clubs competed in The Qualifiers. They played each other once (either home or away) to determine which four of the clubs would compete in Super League the following year.

Funding for clubs was tiered in both leagues to prevent relegation-related financial difficulties.

In preparation for the new structure, two clubs would be relegated from Super League in 2014 to reduce the league to 12. By the end of the season London Broncos and four time Champions Bradford Bulls were relegated to the Championship.

In June 2015 8 of the 12 Super League clubs voted to allow a Marquee Player that could exceed a clubs salary cap as long as they can afford their wages. The marquee player rule came into force for the 2016 Super League season.

The first Super 8s season was won by the Leeds Rhinos, with all four Super League clubs surviving the Qualifiers. The following year Hull KR were relegated when they lost to Salford in the Million Pound Game with Leigh being promoted.

2017 saw Castleford finish top of the league for the first time in their history although they eventually lost the Grand Final to Leeds who claimed their 8th title.

By 2018 there were question marks over how successful the Super 8s were. Attendances after the split dropped and there was more interest in relegation than there was in the Super League 8s and playoffs.

2019–2021: Split from RFL and Covid 19 Pandemic[edit]

On 14 September 2018, an EGM was called to discuss the future of the sport. The Super League clubs were unhappy with the way the RFL was running the sport and wanted more control over future TV deals and sponsorship money. A vote went Super Leagues way and they subsequently split from the RFL while also voting in favour of scrapping the Super 8s in favour of a more traditional league structure with a one up one down system for promotion and relegation. [21]

As a result of the split the Super League appointed former Everton CEO Robert Elstone as Chief Executive. Elstone brought in new branding and new rules such as the shot clock to stop time wasting and golden point extra time in favour of draws.[22]

After a successful 2019 season Elstone success was short lived due to the 2020 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom . The season was temporarily suspended during the national lockdown in which after Toronto Wolfpack did not return to complete the season. There were calls made from Super League clubs for the two executive bodies – Super League and the RFL – to re-amalgamate following the financial difficulties from the pandemic.[23]

As of 14 December 2020, it was decided by unanimous vote that the Leigh Centurions would take the 12th spot in the 26th Super League season, replacing the Toronto Wolfpack who withdrew from the league as a result of financial difficulties caused by the pandemic. This came after the RFL cancelled the Championship 2020 season in response to the pandemic.[24]

In February 2021 Elstone announced he was to resign as Chief Executive of Super League, citing failures to bring outside investment to the league and the effects of the pandemic. Huddersfield's chairman Ken Davy was appointed as temporary Chief Executive until the end of the season. Subsequently the new Sky Sports TV deal for the Super League and lower divisions was cut from £40 million to £25 million per year for the 2022 and 2023 seasons.[25]This again had RFL and Super League officials calling for a realignment of the two governing bodies.

2022-present: Realignment with RFL and IMG investment[edit]

On March 22 2022 at a Special General Meeting it was announced the RFL and Super League were to officially realign after a majority of clubs voted in favour. A new company separate from the RFL was also set up to take care of the commercial side of the sport.

On the 10 May 2022 the RFL announced it had signed a 12 year deal with sports marketing company IMG to maximise the sports growth.

Structure[edit]

Super League regular season[edit]

12 teams compete in the Super League. They play each other twice on a home-and-away basis, interrupted by the Magic Weekend round in May. The 12 clubs also play 6 loop fixtures to bring the number of games in a season to 27. The team finishing bottom after 27 rounds collects the Wooden Spoon, and is relegated, while the team finishing first is awarded the League Leaders Shield. The top 6 teams at the end of the season enter the playoffs.

Super League adopted Golden point during regular season for the first time in 2019, bringing it in line with the NRL which had been using the system since 2003.[26]

Magic Weekend[edit]

In an attempt to expand out of the traditional rugby league "heartlands", and promote the game to a wider audience, the RFL has staged games in large stadiums in places without an existing rugby league presence. The "Magic Weekend" concept, which involves staging an entire round of Super League matches over a weekend in a single stadium, was first staged in Cardiff in 2007. Dubbed "Millennium Magic", and played in the Millennium Stadium, it proved popular with spectators and 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, Murrayfield, giving rise to the name changing to "Murrayfield Magic". Generally held during the May Day bank holiday weekend, 2011 saw the Magic Weekend return to Cardiff, and was this time held during the weekend 12–13 February 2011 and served as the season's opening week. From 2014 to 2018, the event was held at St James' Park in Newcastle. In 2019, the event was held at Anfield in Liverpool, before returning to Newcastle for the 2020 season.

Play-offs[edit]

The play-offs have had various formats. St. Helens are the only team to take part in every play-off series since the inaugural series in 1998.

For 2021 Super League XXVI will use the same six team format used in 2020;[27] comprising three rounds. In round one, the elimination finals, the teams finishing 3rd to 6th play each other with the winners progressing to round two. Round two, the semi-finals, sees the teams finishing 1st and 2nd playing the winners of the two elimination finals. The two winners of the semi-finals meet in the Grand Final.

Grand Final[edit]

Leeds Rhinos celebrating following their 2008 Grand Final victory

The Grand Final is the championship-deciding game and showpiece event of the Super League season. It is held annually at Old Trafford, with the exception of 2020 when it was hosted at KCOM Stadium in Hull in front of no supporters due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

City Stadium Years
England Manchester Old Trafford 1998–2019
England Hull KCOM Stadium 2020
England Manchester Old Trafford 2021–

Largest attendance

Year City Stadium Attendance
2015 England Manchester Old Trafford 73,512

Other competitions[edit]

Challenge Cup[edit]

The Challenge Cup is a separate cup competition, involving clubs from Super League and all levels of rugby league in Britain. It has been held annually since 1896 and has been expanded to teams in Canada, Serbia, Ireland, Russia, France, Scotland and Wales can take part. The cup runs throughout the season, and the final is usually played on the August bank holiday at Wembley Stadium. Before Super League began in 1996, the final used to take place at Wembley Stadium at the end of April or the start of May, usually 2 weeks after the regular season ended.

Clubs[edit]

Current clubs[edit]

Super League clubs
Colours Club Established City/Town Stadium Capacity Titles (Last)d
Castleford colours.svg
Castleford Tigersa 1926 Castleford, West Yorkshire Wheldon Road 11,775 0 (N/A)
Catalanscolours.svg
Catalans Dragons 2000 Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales Gilbert Brutus Stadium 13,000 0 (N/A)
Giantscolours.svg
Huddersfield Giantsc 1864 Huddersfield, West Yorkshire Kirklees Stadium 24,500 7 (1962)
Hullcolours.svg
Hull FCc 1865 Hull, East Yorkshire Hull City Stadium 25,400 6 (1983)
HKRcolours.svg
Hull Kingston Rovers 1882 Hull, East Yorkshire Craven Park 12,225 5 (1985)
Rhinoscolours.svg
Leeds Rhinosabc 1870 Leeds, West Yorkshire Headingley Stadium 19,700 11 (2017)
Leigh colours.svg
Leigh Centurionsc 1878 Leigh, Greater Manchester Leigh Sports Village 12,005 2 (1982)
Redscolours.svg
Salford Red Devils 1873 Salford, Greater Manchester Salford City Stadium 12,000 6 (1976)
Saintscolours.svg
St Helensabc 1873 St Helens, Merseyside Totally Wicked Stadium 18,000 17 (2022)
Wcatscolours.svg
Wakefield Trinityc 1873 Wakefield, West Yorkshire Belle Vue 9,333 2 (1968)
Wolvescolours.svg
Warrington Wolvesabc 1876 Warrington, Cheshire Halliwell Jones Stadium 15,200 3 (1955)
Wigancolours.svg
Wigan Warriorsabc 1872 Wigan, Greater Manchester DW Stadium 25,133 22 (2018)
Notes
a: Founding member of the Super League
b: Appeared in every Super League season since 1996
c: One of the original 22 RFL teams
d: Includes First Division titles won prior to the inaugural Super League season in 1996.
Current Champions

Former Super League clubs[edit]

Former Super League clubs
Colours Club Seasons in
Super League
First season in
Super League
Last season in
Super League
Last top
division title**
Broncoscolours.png
London Broncos 20 1996 2019 N/A
Bullscolours.svg
Bradford Bulls 19 1996 2014 2005
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes Vikings 11 2002 2018 1989
Faxcolours.svg
Halifax Panthers 8 1996 2003 1985–86
Sheffeagles colours.svg
Sheffield Eagles 4 1996 1999 N/A
Cruscolours.svg
Celtic Crusaders §[a] 3 2009 2011 N/A
Oldhamcolours.svg
Oldham 2 1996 1997 1956–57
France colours.svg
Paris Saint-Germain § 2 1996 1997 N/A
Gthundercolours.svg
Gateshead Thunder § 1 1999 1999 N/A
Workingtoncolours.svg
Workington Town 1 1996 1996 1950–51
New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg
Toronto Wolfpack 1 2020 2020 N/A
ToulouseRLcolours.png
Toulouse Olympique 1 2022 2022 (N/A)

Teams removed[edit]

Year Teams Relegated Points Notes
1996 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town 5
1997 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham 9
France colours.svg Paris Saint Germain[28] 12
1998: No relegation[29]
1999 No relegation[30] N/A Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead Thunder merged with Hullcolours.svg Hull Sharks to form Hull FC
Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Eagles and Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants merged to form Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants
2000: No relegation[31]
2001 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 13
2002 Redscolours.svg Salford City Reds 11
2003 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 0
2004 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 12
2005 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings
13
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions 5
2006 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers[32] 19
2007 Redscolours.svg Salford City Reds 13
2008–2010: No relegation due to licensing system
2011 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders RL[33] 8
2012-2013: No relegation due to licensing system
2014 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls[34] 10
2015 None[35]
2016 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers 14
2017 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions 12
2018 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 6
2019 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos 20
2020 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack[36]
2021 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions 4
2022 ToulouseRLcolours.png Toulouse Olympique 10

All Time Super League table[edit]

Current Super League team
§ Club defunct
Pos. Club Seasons P W D L PD Pts
1 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 25 663 470 15 178 7,581 953
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 25 664 443 24 197 6,961 904
3 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 25 648 406 17 225 4,815 829
4 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 25 657 348 13 296 1,869 709
5 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 23 621 305 21 295 135 629
6 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 19 509 308 17 184 3367 617
7 Castleford colours.svg Castleford 23 609 282 20 307 −1,123 584
8 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield 22 584 251 14 319 -1,386 516
9 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield 22 589 215 7 367 −3,824 433
10 Broncoscolours.png London 20 538 195 20 323 -3,718 410
11 Redscolours.svg Salford 22 566 191 8 367 −4,794 382
12 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans 15 390 176 11 203 -950 363
13 HKRcolours.svg Hull KR 13 320 133 10 177 -984 276
14 Widnes colours.svg Widnes 11 292 97 8 187 −2,483 202
15 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 8 209 76 4 129 −1262 154
16 Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield 4 97 37 3 57 −636 77
17 Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead § 1 30 19 1 10 199 39
18 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders § [a] 3 81 21 0 60 −1032 38
19 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham 2 44 13 2 29 −378 28
20 France colours.svg Paris § 2 44 9 1 34 −607 19
21 Leigh colours.svg Leigh 2 51 8 1 42 955 17
22 ToulouseRLcolours.png Toulouse 1 27 5 0 22 -324 10
23 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington 1 22 2 1 19 −696 5
24 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto 1 Withdrew after 7 rounds

Points deductions[edit]

Year Club Points Reason
2001 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 2 Salary Cap Breach
2003 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 2 Salary Cap Breach
Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 2 Salary Cap Breach
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 2 Salary Cap Breach
2006 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 2 Salary Cap Breach
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 2 Salary Cap Breach
2007 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 2 Salary Cap Breach
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 4 Salary Cap Breach
2011 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 4 Administration
Cruscolours.svg Crusaders 4 Administration
2012 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 6 Administration
2013 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 2 Fielding Extra Man
2014 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 6 Administration
2016 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 6 Salary Cap Breach

Academies[edit]

Reserve league[edit]

In 2014 and 2015 Super League clubs were unhappy with the Dual registration system and wanted to form an under-23 reserve leagues between the under-19s and first teams. Wigan, Warrington and St Helens were the first teams to propose the return of the reserve league where players could move from the under 19s and play with professional players before playing in the first team. A reserve league was set up in 2016 with a mixture of Super League, Championship and League 1 teams.

Dual registration[edit]

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. The 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.[37]

  • Only 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.
  • 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 for his Super League club on a Thursday and in a Championship fixture at the weekend, for example.
  • A receiving club will be limited to five dual registered players per matchday squad.

Under 19s[edit]

In 2017 the following teams will run in each of the Senior Academy divisions:[38] Super League Academy – U19s:

Champions[edit]

For the first two Super League seasons, Champions were decided by a round robin system. The league format changed in 1998 with a play-off series used to determine the Super League champions for the first since 1972–73.

Season Champions Score Runners-up League Leaders' Shield[b]
I
Saintscolours.svg St. Helensa N/A Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors N/Aa
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bullsa Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 10–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 8–6 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
V
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 29–16 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 37–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 19–18 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 25–12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 16–8 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
X
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 15–6 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 26–4 Hullcolours.svg Hull Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 33–6 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 24–16 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 18–10 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 22–10 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 32–16 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 26–18 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 30–16 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 14–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 22–20 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 12–6 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 24–6 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 12–4 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 23–6 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 8–4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 12–10 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 24–12 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St Helens
Notes
a: St Helens and Bradford Bulls both finished top of the league but were crowned Champions as no Grand Final was held

Results[edit]

Club Wins Runners
up
Winning Years
1 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 10 5 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2014, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
2 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 8 3 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017
3 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 5 6 1998, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018
4 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 4 3 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
5 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 0 4 N/A
6 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 0 1 N/A
Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons 0 1 N/A
Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 0 1 N/A
Broncoscolours.png London Broncos 0 1 N/A
Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 0 1 N/A

The Double[edit]

In rugby league, the term 'the Double' refers to the achievement of a club that wins both the top division and the Challenge Cup in the same season. To date, this has been achieved by ten different clubs in total, six of which occasions have been during the Super League era.

Club Wins Winning years
1 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 7 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93,
1993–94, 1994–95, 2013
2 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 4 1965–66, 1996, 2006, 2021
3 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 2 1912–13, 1914–15
4 Barrowcolours.svg Broughton Rangers 1 1901–02
5 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 1 1902–03
6 Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet F.C. § 1 1907–08
7 Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions 1 1927–28
8 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1 1953–54
9 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 1 2003
10 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 1 2015

The Treble[edit]

The Treble refers to the team who wins all three domestic honours on offer during the season; Grand Final, League Leaders' Shield and Challenge Cup. To date seven teams have won the treble, only Bradford Bulls, St. Helens and Leeds Rhinos have won the treble in the Super League era.

Club Wins Winning years
1 3 1991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95
2 2 1912–13, 1914–15
3 2 1965–66, 2006
4 1 1907–08
5 1 1927–28
6 1 2003
7 1 2015

The Quadruple[edit]

The Quadruple refers to winning the Super League, League Leaders' Shield, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge in one season.

Club Wins Winning years
1 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 1 1994–95
2 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 1 2003–04
3 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 1 2006–07

Awards[edit]

League Leaders' Shield[edit]

The League Leaders' Shield is awarded to the team finishing the regular season top of Super League; this is also known as a minor premiership. The League Leader's Shield was introduced only in 2003, previously no prize was awarded to the team finishing top following the introduction of the Grand Final.

Club Wins Winning years
1 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 9 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2018, 2019, 2022
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 5 1998, 2000, 2010, 2012,
3 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 3 1999, 2001, 2003
4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 3 2004, 2009, 2015
5 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 2 2011, 2016
6 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 1 2013
7 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 1 2017
8 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons 1 2021

Super League Trophy[edit]

The winner of the Grand Final is given the Super League Trophy as Super League Champions. This is considered more prestigious than the minor premiership. Each year, the year of a champion team's triumph, team name and team Rugby league football captain are engraved.

The record for most Super League titles won is held by St Helens with nine titles. Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield currently holds the record for captaining the most Super League title winning sides after captaining Leeds to their first 7 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 F.C. in 2006; after which they suffered consecutive defeats against Leeds in 2007, 2008, 2009, Wigan in 2010 and Leeds once again in 2011. However, St. Helens made a victorious return in 2014, defeating rivals, Wigan 14–6 and have since won a further three grand finals, defeating Salford in 2019, Wigan in 2020 and Catalans Dragons in 2021.

Following their 2020 defeat to St. Helens, Wigan have now broken St Helens' record of losing five Grand Finals, losing a total of six. Hull F.C. (2006), Warrington (2012, 2013, 2016, and 2018), Castleford (2017), Salford (2019), and Catalans (2021) have all appeared in the Grand Final but never won.

Steve Prescott Man of Steel award[edit]

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. It was renamed in honour of Steve Prescott in 2014.

Albert Goldthorpe Medal[edit]

The Albert Goldthorpe Medal is an award voted for be members of the press who cast a vote after every game of the regular season. The three players who, in the opinion of the reporter, have been the three 'best and fairest' players in the game will receive three points, two points and one point respectively. To be eligible for a vote, a player must not have been suspended from the competition at any stage during the season.

Super League Dream Team[edit]

Each season a "Dream Team" is also named. The best thirteen players in their respective positions are voted for by members of the sports press. The 2022 dream team is as follows:

Player Team Appearance
1 Australia Jai Field Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1
2 Australia Bevan French Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 2
3 New Zealand Shaun Kenny-Dowall HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers 1
4 Samoa Tim Lafai Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 1
5 Australia Ken Sio Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 2
6 England Jack Welsby Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 2
7 Australia Brodie Croft Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 1
8 England Alex Walmsley Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 4
9 England James Roby Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 7
10 England Mikolaj Oledzki Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 1
11 England Chris McQueen Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 1
12 England Liam Farrell Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 5
13 England Morgan Knowles Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 4

Coaches[edit]

Nat. Name Club Appointed Time as head coach
England Lee Radford Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 16 September 2021 1 year, 20 days
England Steve McNamara Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons 19 June 2017 5 years, 109 days
Wales Ian Watson Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 19 November 2020 1 year, 321 days
Australia Tony Smith Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 25 November 2020 26 days
Australia Willie Peters HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers 4 September 2022 32 days
Australia Rohan Smith Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 20 April 2022 169 days
Papua New Guinea Adrian Lam Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions 17 November 2021 323 days
England Paul Rowley Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 5 November 2021 335 days
England Paul Wellens Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 5 October 2022 1 day
England Mark Applegarth Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 15 September 2022 21 days
England Daryl Powell Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 25 September 2021 1 year, 11 days
England Matty Peet Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 5 October 2021 1 year, 1 day

Head coaches with Super League titles[edit]

The Super League has been won by 15 coaches, 10 from Australia, 4 from England and 1 from New Zealand.

Head Coach Wins Winning years
1 England Brian McDermott 4 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017
2 England Brian Noble 3 2001, 2003, 2005
3 England Shaun Wane 3 2013, 2016, 2018
4 Australia Kristian Woolf 3 2020, 2021, 2022
5 Australia Ian Millward 2 2000, 2002
6 Australia Tony Smith 2 2004, 2007
7 New Zealand Brian McClennan 2 2008, 2009
8 Australia Shaun McRae 1 1996
9 Australia Matthew Elliott 1 1997
10 Australia John Monie 1 1998
11 England Ellery Hanley 1 1999
12 Australia Daniel Anderson 1 2006
13 Australia Michael Maguire 1 2010
14 Australia Nathan Brown 1 2014
15 Australia Justin Holbrook 1 2019

Coaches to have coached at least 200 Super League games[edit]

  • Bold indicates coach still at club
  • Italic indicates coach still active as a head coach in Rugby League but not in Super League at this time

Statistics correct as of 24 September 2022

Rank Player Club(s) Games
1 Australia Tony Smith Huddersfield (2001, 2003)
Leeds (2004–2007),
Warrington (2009–2017)
Hull KR (2019–2022)
Hull (2023-present)
502
2 England Daryl Powell Leeds (2001–2003)
Castleford (2013–2021)
Warrington (2022-)
345
3 England Brian McDermott London (2007–2010)
Leeds (2011–2018)
Toronto (2020)
340
4 England Brian Noble Bradford (2001–2006)
Wigan (2006–2009)
Crusaders (2010)
Salford (2013–2014)
321
5 Australia Shaun McRae St. Helens (1996–1998)
Gateshead (1999)
Hull (2000–2004)
Salford (2007, 2009–2011)
312
6 England John Kear Sheffield (1997–1999),
Huddersfield (2000)
Hull (2005–2006)
Wakefield (2006–2011)
272
7 England Steve McNamara Bradford (2006–2010),
Catalans (2017–present)
257
8 England Richard Agar Hull (2006, 2008–2011),
Wakefield (2012-2014),
Leeds (2019–2022)
236
9 Australia Ian Millward St. Helens (2000–2005)
Wigan (2005–2006)
Castleford (2012–2013)
228
10 England Lee Radford Hull (2014–2020)
Castleford (2022-present)
212
11 England Shaun Wane Wigan (2012–2018) 208

Players[edit]

  • Statistics are correct as of 24 September 2022.

Players to have made over 350 Super League Appearances[edit]

St Helens captain James Roby holds the record for appearances in Super League with 468 appearances
  • Note that appearances from the bench are also included in this list. Excluding appearances in Qualifiers
  • Bold indicates players still active in Super League
  • Italics indicates players still active but not in Super League
Rank Player Years Club(s) Appearances
1 England James Roby 2004–present St. Helens 468
2 England Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 Leeds 454
3 England Andy Lynch 1999–2017 Castleford, Bradford, Hull, Castleford 452
4 England Paul Wellens 1998–2015 St. Helens 439
5 England Jamie Peacock 1998–2015 Bradford, Leeds 438
6 England Leon Pryce 1998–2016 Bradford, St. Helens, Hull, Catalans 432
7 England Ben Westwood 1999–2019 Wakefield, Warrington 430
8 England Rob Burrow 2001–2017 Leeds 429
9 England Danny Tickle 2000–2018 Halifax, Wigan, Hull FC, Widnes,
Castleford, Leigh, Hull KR
419
10 England Keith Senior 1996– 2011 Sheffield, Leeds 413
11 Scotland Lee Gilmour 1997–2014 Wigan, Bradford, St. Helens, Huddersfield,
Castleford, Wakefield
412
12 England Danny McGuire 2001–2019 Leeds, Hull KR 408
13= England Ireland Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook 2006–present London, St. Helens 404
13= England Sean O'Loughlin 2002–2020 Wigan 403
15 Wales Lee Briers 1997–2013 St. Helens, Warrington 402
16 England Jon Wilkin 2003–2018,
2020
St. Helens, Toronto 385
17 England Paul Deacon 1997–2011 Oldham, Bradford, Wigan 384
18 Wales Keiron Cunningham 1996–2010 St. Helens 382
19 England Danny Orr 1997–2012 Castleford, Wigan, London, Castleford 381
20 England Danny Houghton 2007-present Hull 374
21 England Jamie Jones-Buchanan 1999–2019 Leeds 366
22 England Kevin Brown 2003–2021 Wigan, Huddersfield, Widnes,
Warrington, Salford
361
23 England Jon Clarke 1997–2014 Wigan, London, Warrington, Widnes 360
24 England Stuart Fielden 1998–2013 Bradford, Wigan, Huddersfield 359
25 Scotland Richard Horne 1999–2014 Hull 353
26 England Mickey Higham 2001–2017 St. Helens, Wigan, Warrington, Leigh 352

Tries[edit]

Danny McGuire is the highest ever try scorer in Super League with 247
Rank Player Years Clubs Tries
1 England Danny McGuire 2001–2019 Leeds, Hull KR 247
2 England Ryan Hall 2007–2018
2021–present
Leeds, Hull KR 226
3 England Josh Charnley 2010-2016,
2018-present
Hull KR, Wigan,
Warrington, Leigh
203
4= England Paul Wellens 1998–2015 St. Helens 199
4= England Keith Senior 1996–2011 Sheffield, Leeds 199

Points[edit]

Rank Player Years Clubs Points
1 England Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 Leeds 3,443
2 Scotland England Danny Brough 2005–2006,
2008–2020
Hull FC, Wakefield x2,
Huddersfield
2,462
3 England Paul Deacon 1997–2011 Oldham, Bradford, Wigan 2,415
4 England Andy Farrell 1996–2004 Wigan 2,372
5 Ireland Pat Richards 2006–2013, 2016 Wigan, Catalans 2,280

Winning captains[edit]

Kevin Sinfield captained the Leeds Rhinos to seven Grand Final victories, the most in Super League history by one player

11 players have captained teams to win the Super League.

Captain Wins Winning years
1 England Kevin Sinfield 7 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2 England Sean O'Loughlin 4 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018
3 England James Roby 4 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
4 England Chris Joynt 3 1999, 2000, 2002
5 New Zealand Robbie Paul 3 1997, 2001, 2003
6 England Bobbie Goulding 1 1996
7 England Andy Farrell 1 1998
8 England Jamie Peacock 1 2005
9 England Sean Long 1 2006
10 England Paul Wellens 1 2014
11 England Danny McGuire 1 2017

Top Try Scorer by season[edit]

Year Player Tries Team
1996 England Paul Newlove 28 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1997 New Zealand Nigel Vagana 17 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
1998 Wales Anthony Sullivan 20 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1999 New Zealand Toa Kohe-Love 25 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2000 England Sean Long & England Tommy Martyn 22 both Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2001 England Kris Radlinski 27 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2002 Australia Dennis Moran 22 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2003 Australia Dennis Moran 24 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2004 New Zealand Lesley Vainikolo 36 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2005 England Mark Calderwood 27 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2006 Australia Justin Murphy 25 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
2007 Samoa Henry Fa'afili 21 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2008 England Ade Gardner 26 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2009 England Ryan Hall 29 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2010 Ireland Pat Richards 29 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2011 England Ryan Hall & England Sam Tomkins 28 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos & Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2012 England Josh Charnley 31 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2013 England Josh Charnley 33 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2014 Australia Joel Monaghan 28 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2015 England Jermaine McGillvary 27 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2016 New Zealand Denny Solomona 40 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2017 England Greg Eden 38 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2018 Australia Ben Barba 28 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2019 England Tommy Makinson 23 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2020 England Ash Handley 14 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2021 Australia Ken Sio 18 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils
2022 Australia Bevan French 31 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors

Top Points Scorer by season[edit]

Year Player Points Team
1996 England Bobbie Goulding 257 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1997 England Andy Farrell 243 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1998 Wales Iestyn Harris 333 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
1999 Wales Iestyn Harris 325 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2000 England Sean Long 352 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2001 England Andy Farrell 388 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2002 England Paul Deacon 301 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2003 England Paul Deacon 286 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2004 England Kevin Sinfield 277 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2005 England Paul Deacon 322 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2006 Australia Jamie Lyon 316 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2007 Ireland Pat Richards 248 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2008 Ireland Pat Richards 269 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2009 Ireland Pat Richards 252 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2010 Ireland Pat Richards 388 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2011 England Jamie Foster 330 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2012 Australia Scott Dureau 281 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
2013 Scotland Danny Brough 208 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2014 England Marc Sneyd 224 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2015 England Luke Gale 247 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2016 England Luke Gale 262 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2017 England Luke Gale 317 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2018 England Danny Richardson 296 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2019 Scotland Lachlan Coote 259 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2020 Scotland Lachlan Coote 174 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2021 Australia James Maloney 245 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
2022 England Tommy Makinson 244 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens

[edit]

logo used from 1996 to 2016

The Super League has had three official logos. The first was used from the inaugural season in 1996 until 2016. The logo had the Super League S with Super above it and League below it. The title sponsors name would appear above the logo until 2014 when title sponsors First Utility used their own personalised logos that appeared on player shirts and in the media. The reigning champions had a ribbon around the logo with champions on it until 2011.

Logo from 2017 to 2019

The second official logo was introduced in 2017 as part of a radical rebrand across British rugby league. The design was deliberately similar to new Rugby Football League (RFL) and England team logos, in order to maintain a ubiquity of public message. It had a rectangular backdrop representing the George Hotel in Huddersfield (where rugby league was originally founded), thirteen lines representing thirteen players, a chevron (a traditional design feature on many rugby league shirts) and the S which represented the ball and the Super League. The reigning champions had the right to wear a gold version of the logo on their shirts.

Ahead of the 2020 Super League season, a brand new logo was revealed. This was designed by the same company who had recently redesigned the Premier League logo and was more simplistic than previous iterations.

Sponsorship[edit]

Super League has been sponsored since its formation, apart from the 2013 season.

The title sponsor has been able to determine the league's sponsorship name. There have been seven title sponsors since the league's formation:

Period Sponsor Name
1996–1997 Stones Bitter Stones Super League
1998–1999 JJB Sports JJB Super League
2000–2004 Tetley's Bitter Tetley's Super League
2005–2011 Engage Mutual Assurance Engage Super League
2012 Stobart Group Stobart Super League
2013 no sponsor Super League
2014–2016 First Utility First Utility Super League
2017–2023 Betfred Betfred Super League

As well as title sponsorship, Super League has a number of official partners and suppliers.[39] For the 2017 season these include Kingstone Press Cider, Dacia, Foxy Bingo, Batchelors and Specsavers.

The official rugby ball supplier is Steeden.[40]

Competition rules[edit]

Overseas quota and Federation-trained players[edit]

An overseas quota restricting the maximum number of foreign players at each club has existed since the inception of the Super League in 1996.[41] However, overseas players that hold a European Union passport or come under the Kolpak ruling do not count towards the quota. This resulted in the number of non-British players at some clubs greatly exceeding the quota.

In response to concerns over the growing number of foreign players in the league, in 2007, the RFL announced plans to introduce a "homegrown player" rule to encourage clubs to develop their own players.[42] As of 2017, Super League clubs are permitted to register no more than five overseas players. Additionally, squads are also limited to a maximum of seven non-Federation trained players.[43]

Salary cap[edit]

A salary cap was first introduced to the Super League in 1998, with clubs being allowed to spend up to 50 percent of their income on player wages. From the 2002 season onwards, the cap became a fixed ceiling of £1.8 million in order to increase parity within the league.[44]

The Super League operates under a real-time salary cap system that will calculate a club's salary cap position at the start of and throughout the season:[45]

  • The combined earnings of the top 25 players must not exceed £1.825 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.
  • Clubs are allowed one "Marquee Player" who can exceed a club's salary cap as long as they can afford the players wages.

In 2017, Super League clubs approved proposals to increase the salary cap over the next three seasons, eventually rising to £2.1 million by 2020. Clubs will also be allowed to sign a second marquee player.[46]

Squad announcement system[edit]

Before each Super League fixture, each club must announce the squad of 19 players it will choose from by 2:00 pm on the second day before the match day.[45]

Match officials[edit]

All Super League matches are governed by the laws set out by the RFL; these laws are enforced by match officials. Former Super League and International Referee Steve Ganson is the current Head of Match Officials and Technical Director. Former Hull F.C. player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp was the previous Head of Match Officials. Sharp was sacked in July 2015 and took up the role of Head Coach at Featherstone Rovers. He assumed his role at the RFL following Stuart Cummings' departure in March 2013 having previously held the role of Match Officials Coach & Technical Director.

Criticism[edit]

Big Four dominance[edit]

Key
  • Number denotes league position

  Grand Final Champions   Grand Final Runners-up

Results of the 'Big Four' during 1996–2009
Season Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1996 3 10 1 2
1997 1 5 3 4
1998 5 2 4 1
1999 1 3 2 4
2000 3 4 2 1
2001 1 5 4 2
2002 2 4 1 3
2003 1 2 4 3
2004 2 1 5 4
2005 3 2 1 7
2006 4 3 1 8
2007 3 2 1 6
2008 5 2 1 4
2009 9 1 2 6
Titles 4 4 5 1
Results of the 'Big Four' since 2010
Season Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2010 4 2 1 3
2011 5 3 2 1
2012 5 3 1 2
2013 3 5 4 2
2014 6 1 2 5
2015 1 2 3 6
2016 9 4 3 2
2017 2 4 6 9
2018 10 1 2 4
2019 8 1 2 4
2020 5 2 1 3
2021 5 2 4 3
Titles 4 3 4 0

Since its formation in 1996 only four teams have won the Super League (Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos, St. Helens and Wigan Warriors). Also, only nine teams have taken part in the Grand Final (Hull FC, Castleford Tigers, Warrington Wolves, Salford Red Devils, and Catalans Dragons being the other five). Eight teams have been the league leaders, however only one of these (Huddersfield Giants) in 2013, is a different team to those that have appeared in the grand final, meaning that only nine different teams in total have been involved in the grand final or topped the regular season table, however, 23 teams have taken part in Super League since its inception. The last grand final to feature two sides other than Wigan, Leeds, St Helens or Bradford occurred in 1991 when Hull F.C. defeated Widnes 14–4.[47] This had led to the criticism that Super League is effectively uncompetitive, by perpetuating success in the hands of a small number of wealthy clubs.

In comparison, during the same period, 12 different teams have won the Australasian National Rugby League competition and 15 different teams have appeared in the Grand Final.

Licensing[edit]

Between 2009 and 2014 teams had to apply for a licence to play in Super League, which was partly awarded based on a club's financial viability; this also meant there was no longer automatic promotion from the Championship into Super League. This was highly unpopular with Championship clubs, because there was no way for them to win promotion to the higher level based purely on sporting success. Consequently, the Super League came to be seen as a closed shop for its existing members, with entry based primarily on financial capability.

Attendances in the lower divisions dropped as a result of this system, because it was felt that there was little appeal in these leagues when there was no incentive for the clubs to win the Championship. Additionally, the only time that lower division clubs got the chance to play illustrious Super League opposition was in the early rounds of the Challenge Cup. With no simple route in to the Super League, teams were further unable to compete with top division opposition because there was no way those clubs could attract good quality talent when they could not offer young players the prospect of playing at the highest level.

M62 Corridor[edit]

Most of the teams that have competed in Super League have been in the traditional English rugby league heartlands of the so-called 'M62 Corridor' between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Catalans Dragons are the only team currently playing in Super League who play outside this area. Since their arrival in 2006, The Dragons have enjoyed a sustainable and competitive period in Super League which has seen them become the first non-English team to win the Challenge Cup in 2018, the League Leaders Shield in 2021, and reach the Super League Grand Final, also in 2021.

Expansion of the sport was a key policy of the Rugby Football League when Super League was created, and has consistently been considered important for the future well-being of rugby league. However, with the exception of the Catalans Dragons and the comparative long-term stability of the London Broncos, expansion clubs have not generally proved viable at the highest level. Paris Saint-Germain RL competed from the beginning of the competition but disbanded after just two seasons due to a lack of interest and investment, Gateshead Thunder had poor attendance figures and were merged with Hull after only one year in 1999, despite a strong season that saw them narrowly miss the playoffs, Celtic Crusaders joined Super League in 2009 while in Bridgend, South Wales before moving close to the M62 corridor to Wrexham, North Wales in 2010 and renamed as Crusaders RL. They reached the playoffs in 2010, but struggled on and off the pitch in 2011 before withdrawing their application for a 2012-14 licence at the 11th hour and folding at the end of the season, only lasting 3 seasons in Super League. In addition, Toronto Wolfpack lasted less than a full season in Super League, their financial problems exacerbated by international travel restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 as they pulled out before the resumption of the 2020 season in August 2020 before being expelled from the competition later that year. Toulouse Olympique gained promotion to Super League for the 2022 season, after a victory over Featherstone Rovers on 10 October 2021 in the Million Pound Game, becoming the third French team to play in Super League and the fourth non-British team to play in the competition, as well as ensuring there would be a French derby in Super League for the first time. Toulouse only stayed in Super League for one season, finishing bottom with just 5 wins all season.

Media coverage[edit]

Television[edit]

Sky Sports have been the primary broadcast partner of Super League since its inaugural season in 1996. The current deal lasts between 2022 until 2023 and covers 66 matches per season, plus gives Channel 4 the right to broadcast a further 10 (eight regular season plus two play-off games).[48] Sky Sports broadcasts live Super League games in both the United Kingdom and Ireland. Broadcasting slots occur on Thursdays and Fridays at 19:30 (20:00 kick off), and varying times on weekend afternoon, however only two or three are used per week.

Duration Broadcasters Value per year Games shown per year
1996–1999 Sky Sports ~£17 million ?
1999–2003 ~£12 million ?
2004–2008 ~£9 million ?
2009–2011 ~£18 million[c] 80
2012–2016 100
2017–2021 ~£40 million[49][c] 80[49]
2022–2023 Sky Sports[50] and
Channel 4[51]
~£26 million[49] 66 + 10[49]

Source:[52]

Highlights[edit]

In addition to Sky Sports' live coverage, BBC Sport broadcast a weekly highlights programme called the Super League Show, usually presented by Tanya Arnold. This is broadcast to the North West, Yorkshire, North East & Cumbria, and East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire regions on BBC One on Monday nights (after 11 pm) and is repeated nationally on BBC Two on Tuesday afternoons.[53] A national repeat was first broadcast overnight during the week since February 2008 when the then 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. The end of season play-off series is shown nationwide in a highlights package. The Super League Show is also available for streaming or download using the BBC iPlayer in the UK.

Highlights programme Duration Broadcaster
Super League Show 1999–Present BBC

International[edit]

Internationally, Super League is shown live by eight broadcasters in eight countries and regions.

Country/ Region Broadcaster
Middle East Premier Sports (exc. Saudi Arabia)
North Africa
 France beIN Sports[54]
Sport en France[55]
 New Zealand Sky Sport
Māori Television
 United States Fox Soccer Plus
 Canada Sportsnet World
 Australia Fox League

Radio[edit]

Talksport is an official broadcaster of Super League, broadcasting commentaries and magazine programming on Talksport 2. BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra covers more than 70 Super League games through 5 Live Rugby League each Thursday and Friday night.[56] Each 3 hour programme is presented by Dave Woods with a guest summariser (usually a Super League player or coach) and in addition to live commentary also includes interviews and debate. A 5 Live Rugby League podcast is available to download each week from the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrtxd/episodes/downloads.

Super League is also covered extensively by BBC Local Radio:

Station Area
BBC Radio Humberside Hull
BBC Radio Leeds West Yorkshire
BBC Radio Manchester Salford, Wigan and Warrington.
BBC Radio Merseyside St Helens, Warrington and Widnes.

The competition is also covered on commercial radio stations:

  • Radio Yorkshire cover two matches per round featuring Yorkshire clubs.
  • BCB 106.6 (Bradford Community Broadcasting) have full match commentary on Bradford home and away.
  • Wish FM have full match commentary on Wigan and St Helens matches home and away.
  • Wire FM have full match commentary of Warrington matches 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.

Internet[edit]

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.[57] In 2016 Livestation shut down, however these matches are also available online for UK users only through Sky Go and Now TV.

In the United Kingdom, a number of commercial radio stations, along with BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra and the local BBC radio stations simulcast commentary of Super League games on the internet. Additionally, the 5 Live Rugby League podcast is available to download each week from the BBC website at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p02nrtxd/episodes/downloads.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Active as North Wales Crusaders
  2. ^ The League Leaders' Shield was not awarded as a trophy until 2003, those listed before then are the teams who would have won the trophy.
  3. ^ a b A small portion of this figure covered games in the Championship

References[edit]

Inline[edit]

  1. ^ "Rugby League's Super League Europe Appoints New Director" (Press release). Leeds: Super League Europe. Sportcal. 16 February 2001. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  2. ^ "'Why do they call it Super League Europe'? French club coach fuming after promotion snub". stuff.co.nz. Stuff Limited. 15 December 2020. Retrieved 11 July 2021.
  3. ^ Hansard (26 April 1995). "Rugby League". UK Parliament. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  4. ^ Mike Parsons (23 June 2006). "Rugby League". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  5. ^ a b BBC Sport (19 May 2005). "Super League set for 2009 changes". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  6. ^ a b RFL. "Licensing". The Rugby Football League. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  7. ^ BBC Sport (22 May 2005). "Franchise system 'is way forward'". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  8. ^ Angela Powers. "Licence to thrill". Sky Sports. Archived from the original on 25 March 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  9. ^ Gary Slater (18 June 2008). "Super League to expand to 14". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  10. ^ Sky Sports (17 June 2008). "Super League set to expand". Sky Sports. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  11. ^ BBC Sport (16 July 2008). "Clubs confident over franchises". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  12. ^ Ian Laybourn. "Leigh blast for Super League". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  13. ^ BBC Sport (8 October 2010). "Five clubs in Super League queue". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  14. ^ BBC Sport (3 December 2010). "Widnes, Halifax and Barrow meet Super League deadline". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  15. ^ "Vikings awarded Super League licence". Super League Official. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  16. ^ "Thirteen Super League licences awarded for 2012 to 2014". RFL. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  17. ^ a b c BBC Sport (26 July 2011). "Crusaders withdraw application for Super League place". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  18. ^ Super League to become a 12-team competition from 2015. Superleague.co.uk (11 July 2013). Retrieved on 20 August 2013.
  19. ^ "RFL Chief Executive Policy Review" (PDF). RFL. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  20. ^ "Super League: Competition restructures confirmed". BBC Sport. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  21. ^ Westmorland, Gareth (14 September 2018). "Explained: How Super League's 2019 structure works". Hull Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  22. ^ Shaw, Matthew (21 December 2018). "RFL usher in rule changes for 2019". Total Rugby League. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  23. ^ "Calls grow for Super League to return to the fold". Rugby Leaguer & League Express. No. 3,224. 4 May 2020. p. 3.
  24. ^ "Leigh Centurions will replace Toronto Wolfpack and play in Super League in 2021". Sky Sports. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  25. ^ "Super League agrees new two-year TV deal". 28 April 2021.
  26. ^ BBC Sport (19 November 2018). "Super League: Golden-point extra time introduced for regular season from 2019". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  27. ^ Darbyshire, Drew (26 November 2020). "Super League retains six-team play-off format for 2021, Old Trafford to host Grand Final". Love Rugby League. Retrieved 21 April 2021.
  28. ^ Club folded at end of season.
  29. ^ Super League expanded from 12 teams to 14.
  30. ^ Hunslet Hawks denied promotion due to not meeting stadium criteria, bottom club Huddersfield Giants reprieved.
  31. ^ Dewsbury Rams denied promotion due to not meeting stadium criteria, bottom club Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants reprieved.
  32. ^ Catalans Dragons finished bottom, but were exempt from relegation, so 11th placed Castleford were relegated.
  33. ^ Crusaders withdrew application for Super League licence for 2012–2014 at the end of 2011 and were readmited into League 1.
  34. ^ Two teams relegated due to the 2015 season reverting from the 14 team to 12 team format, no teams promoted.
  35. ^ Wakefield defeated Bradford in the Million Pound game to retain Super League place.
  36. ^ Toronto Wolfpack dropped out of Super League for the remainder of the 2020 season due to complications arising from COVID-19 pandemic, and were expelled from Super League on 2nd November 2020.
  37. ^ Wilson, Andy (9 February 2013). "Debate continues over Super League and Championship dual registration". Retrieved 25 January 2017 – via The Guardian.
  38. ^ "Match Centre - Rugby-League.com". Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  39. ^ "Super League Partners". 9 August 2013. Archived from the original on 9 August 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  40. ^ "Steeden become Official Match Ball Partner". www.rugby-league.com. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  41. ^ Hadfield, Dave (24 January 1996). "Tries to be given trial by television". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  42. ^ Hadfield, Dave (5 February 2007). "Overseas quotas on clubs' agenda". The Independent. Archived from the original on 25 May 2022. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  43. ^ "Operational Rules". The Rugby Football League. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  44. ^ Fisher, Michael (12 January 2001). "Salary cap to be squeezed to £1.8m". Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  45. ^ a b "Competition Structure". The RFL. Archived from the original on 21 January 2010. Retrieved 11 February 2010.
  46. ^ Bower, Aaron (5 April 2017). "Super League clubs vote for salary cap rise and second marquee player". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  47. ^ "1991 Premiership Final: 28 Year Ago Today". www.hullfc.com.
  48. ^ Channel 4 to broadcast live Bettered Super League
  49. ^ a b c d "Rugby league in cash crisis with new Sky Sports deal down £14m a year". 29 April 2021.
  50. ^ "Sky Sports extends Super League TV deal for a further two seasons".
  51. ^ "Channel 4 to broadcast Betfred Super League in 2022".
  52. ^ "History of Rugby League TV Rights post 1995".
  53. ^ "BBC Super League Show: New series starts on 10 February". 7 February 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
  54. ^ "Les Dragons Catalans et la Super League de retour sur beIN SPORTS". sport-tv.org. Franck Loisel. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  55. ^ Jacquemart, Nicolas (2 April 2021). "Les Dragons Catalans et l'Elite 1 diffusés sur Sport en France". treizemondial.fr. Dicodusport. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  56. ^ "Super League: BBC Radio 5 live sports extra to air new show". BBC Sport. 4 February 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  57. ^ List of Super League games available on Livestation.com

General[edit]

  • Caplan, Phil; Doidge, Jonathan R. (2006). Super League – the first ten years. The History Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7524-3698-2.

External links[edit]