Super League

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For other uses, see Super League (disambiguation).
Super League
Super League logo.png
Country  England
Other club(s) from  France
Founded 1996
Number of teams 12
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Championship
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
International cup(s) World Club Series
World Club Challenge
Current champions
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos (7th title)
Most championships
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos (7 titles)
TV partners Sky Sports (live matches)
BBC (highlights)
Website superleague.co.uk
Super League XXI

Super League, officially the First Utility Super League for sponsorship reasons, is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in Europe. The league has twelve teams: eleven from England and one from France. The current champions are Leeds Rhinos.

Super League began in 1996, replacing the RFL Championship and switching from a winter to a summer season. Each team plays 23 games between February and July: 11 home games, 11 away games and a Magic Weekend game at a neutral venue. At the end of the season, the top eight teams enter a Super 8 stage, playing each other once more. The top four then enter the play-off series leading to the Grand Final (formerly Championship Final) which determines the champions.

The average Super League match attendance was 8,365 in 2014.[1] The Super League champions play the National Rugby League (NRL) champions from Australasia in the World Club Challenge.

History[edit]

1996–2001: Establishment[edit]

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. The 12 founding teams of Super League were:

Initially, several mergers between existing clubs were proposed:

They were to be included with the following stand-alone clubs: Bradford Northern, Halifax, Leeds, London Broncos, Paris Saint-Germain, St. Helens and Wigan.

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 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. Between 1998 and 2000 there was no relegation from Super League.

2002–2008: Promotion and relegation[edit]

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 Super League Europe (SLE) governing body re-integrated fully into the Rugby Football League (RFL). 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. 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[edit]

Super League licences were announced in May 2005 by the 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.[2] 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.[2]

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.[3]

Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competition and[4] three-yearly reviews of Super League membership took place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.[3]

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 Super League, while those who achieved a C Licence underwent further scrutiny before the RFL decided who made the final cut.[5]

First licensing period

In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009,[6][7] and on 22 July 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licences.[8] 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.[9]

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,[10] but despite this only Barrow, Halifax and Widnes decided to submit an application.[11] 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.[12]

The Rugby Football League's final decision was announced on 26 July 2011, Widnes would be joining thirteen existing Super League teams with Crusaders RL having withdrawn their application and Halifax not meeting the criteria.[13] Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the club's finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League.[14] 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."[14] Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal.[14]

2015–Present: Super 8s[edit]

Main article: Rugby League Super 8s

At the 2013 Annual General Meeting at 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.[15]

The 12 First Utility Super League and 12 Kingstone Press Championship clubs will play each other home and away over 22 "rounds", including a Magic Weekend for both divisions. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 24 clubs will then compete in a play-off series where they split into 3 leagues of 8 based upon league position:[16][17]

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

Funding for clubs will be tiered in both leagues to prevent relegation related financial difficulties.

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

Clubs[edit]

Current clubs[edit]

Super League clubs
Colours Club Established City Stadium Capacity* Titles (Last)**
Castleford colours.svg
Castleford Tigersa 1925 Castleford, West Yorkshire Wheldon Road 12,000 0 (N/A)
Catalanscolours.svg
Catalans Dragons 2000 Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orient 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 KCOM Stadium 25,404 6 (1983)
HKRcolours.svg
Hull Kingston Rovers 1882 Hull, East Yorkshire Craven Park 12,000 5 (1985)
Rhinoscolours.svg
Leeds Rhinosabc 1864 Leeds, West Yorkshire Headingley Stadium 20,500 10 (2015)
Redscolours.svg
Salford Red Devils 1873 Salford, Lancashire Salford City Stadium 12,000 6 (1976)
Saintscolours.svg
St Helensabc 1873 St. Helens, Merseyside Langtree Park 18,000 13 (2014)
Wcatscolours.svg
Wakefield Trinityc 1873 Wakefield, West Yorkshire Belle Vue 12,600 2 (1968)
Wolvescolours.svg
Warrington Wolvesab 1876 Warrington, Cheshire Halliwell Jones Stadium 15,500 3 (1955)
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes Vikingsc 1875 Widnes, Cheshire Halton Stadium 13,500 3 (1989)
Wigancolours.svg
Wigan Warriorsabc 1872 Wigan, Lancashire DW Stadium 24,057 20 (2013)

a: Founding member of the Super League
b: Appeared in every Super League season since 1996
c: One of the original 22 RFL teams

  • **includes Rugby Football League Championship titles won prior to the inaugural Super League season in 1996, which are officially considered to be part of the Super League lineage
  • *Gold - current Super League Champions

Former Super League Clubs[edit]

Previous Super League clubs
Colours Club Established City Stadium Capacity*
Bullscolours.svg
Bradford Bulls 1907 Bradford, West Yorkshire Odsal 27,491
Cruscolours.svg
Crusaders RL 2005 Wrexham, Wales Racecourse Ground 15,500
Gthundercolours.svg
Newcastle Thunder 1999 Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Kingston Park 10,000
Faxcolours.svg
Halifax 1873 Halifax, West Yorkshire The Shay 14,000
Leigh colours.svg
Leigh Centurions 1878 Leigh, Greater Manchester Leigh Sports Village 12,005
Broncoscolours.png
London Broncos 1980 Ealing, London Trailfinders Sports Ground 3,020
Oldhamcolours.svg
Oldham Roughyeds 1876 Oldham, Greater Manchester Bower Fold 6,500
France colours.svg
Paris Saint-Germain 1995 Paris, France Stade Sébastien Charléty 20,000
Sheffeagles colours.svg
Sheffield Eagles 1984 Sheffield, South Yorkshire Bawtry Road 3,000
Workingtoncolours.svg
Workington Town 1945 Workington, Cumbria Derwent Park 10,000

*capacity for Rugby League games may differ from official stadium capacity.

  • Grey- Club defunct
  • Table shows current locations and stadiums only

Non-English Teams[edit]

 France
In 1996 Paris Saint-Germain were chosen to compete in the first season of the newly formed Super League, making them the first team outside England to compete in the top flight of English rugby league. They played in the first ever Super League game against Sheffield Eagles in Paris, winning 30-24 in front of a crowd of over 17,000. After a poor debut season French clubs refused to loan players to PSG, which resulted in bringing Australians over from the NRL which turned out to be very costly as attendances plummeted and the cost of traveling to England became too much. PSG were dissolved in 1997 after two seasons in Super League

In 2005 the new franchise was awarded to Catalans Dragons to play in the 2006 Super League. To help make sure the franchise did not fail as the PSG franchise did, the RFL allowed the Dragons to sign players from other French teams for no transfer fee. They were also promised to be exempted from relegation for three years. In their first season they finished bottom of the league but Castleford Tigers were the team relegated. Over the next few years they continually improved and in 2007 they became the first French team to reach a Challenge Cup Final.

 Wales
Celtic Crusaders became the first Welsh team to play in Super League in 2009 after they were promoted via licence but finished bottom of the league. The next season they reach the playoffs for the first time in their second season but failed to beat Huddersfield in the first round. In 2011 they were deducted 6 points for entering administration and finished bottom of the league for a second time. They initially applied for a licence in 2011 but pulled out. They were turned down when they requested to play in the Championship and folded in 2012. The club was replaced by North Wales Crusaders in 2012 who entered League 1.

All Time Super League table[edit]

  • Correct up to end of 2015 season.
Rank Name Seasons Playoffs Games Win Draw Loss For Agn Diff Pts
1 Saintscolours.svg St Helens* 20 18 539 380 14 145 16940 10636 6304 772
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan* 20 16 539 363 21 155 15988 9700 6288 741
3 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 20 18 539 355 15 169 15872 10985 4887 725
4 Bullscolours.svg Bradford* 19 11 509 308 17 184 14620 11253 3367 617
5 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 20 9 539 281 9 249 14205 13080 1114 571
6 Hullcolours.svg Hull FC* 18 10 495 239 20 236 11528 11297 231 496
7 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield 17 8 467 207 10 250 10875 11420 1279 424
8 Castleford colours.svg Castleford 18 5 484 202 18 264 10995 12878 -1899 422
9 Broncoscolours.png London 19 2 509 185 20 304 10793 14229 -3436 390
10 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield* 17 3 464 163 6 295 9557 12478 -3435 326
11 Redscolours.svg Salford* 17 1 455 142 8 305 8131 12593 -4632 290
12 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans 10 6 274 126 9 139 6479 6889 -410 261
13 HKRcolours.svg Hull KR 9 4 239 108 7 124 5093 5430 -225 223
14 Widnes colours.svg Widnes 8 1 216 77 7 132 4132 5989 -1904 161
15 Faxcolours.svg Halifax* 8 1 209 76 4 129 4646 5908 -1262 154
16 Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield 4 0 97 37 3 57 2027 2663 -636 77
17 Gthundercolours.svg Newcastle 1 0 30 19 1 10 775 576 199 39
18 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders* 3 1 81 21 0 60 1431 2463 -1032 38
19 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham 2 0 44 13 2 29 934 1312 -378 28
20 France colours.svg Paris 2 0 44 9 1 34 760 1367 -607 5
21 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington 1 0 22 2 1 19 325 1021 -696 5
22 Leigh colours.svg Leigh 1 0 28 2 1 25 445 1210 -765 5
  • Gold - Currently playing in Super League
  • Grey - Team now defunct

Point deductions[edit]

  • 2001 - Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2003 - Faxcolours.svg Halifax - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2003 - Hullcolours.svg Hull - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2003 - Saintscolours.svg St Helens - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2006 - Bullscolours.svg Bradford - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2006 - Wigancolours.svg Wigan - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2007 - Bullscolours.svg Bradford - Salary Cap Breach - 2 points
  • 2007 - Wigancolours.svg Wigan - Salary Cap Breach - 4 points
  • 2011 - Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity - Administration - 4 points
  • 2011 - Cruscolours.svg Crusaders - Administration - 4 points
  • 2012 - Bullscolours.svg Bradford - Administration - 6 points
  • 2013 - Redscolours.svg Salford - Fielding Extra Man - 2 points
  • 2014 - Bullscolours.svg Bradford - Administration - 6 points
  • 2016 - Redscolours.svg Salford - Salary Cap Breach - 6 points

Teams relegated[edit]

Year Club
1996 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town
1997 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Bears
1998-2000 no relegation
2001 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2002 Redscolours.svg Salford City Reds
2003 Faxcolours.svg Halifax
2004 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2005 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings
Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
2006 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2007 Redscolours.svg Salford City Reds
2008-2013 no relegation
2014 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2015 None

Venues[edit]

Further information: English rugby league venues

Derbies[edit]

Hull Derby[edit]

The Hull Derby is contested by Hull F.C. from the west side of Hull and Hull KR from the east side of Hull. The two teams are separated by the River Hull. In the late 1990s a merger was proposed between the two clubs to form Humberside or just Hull but this was later rejected. The rivalry was at its highest during the 1980s when both Hull sides were the dominant forces in the league.

Good Friday Derby[edit]

The Good Friday Derby is contested between Wigan Warriors and St Helens RFC. The two clubs have been the most successful clubs in England winning 31 Challenge Cups and 33 league titles between them. They have also met in three Grand Finals in the Super League era.

Cheshire Derby[edit]

The Cheshire Derby is a local derby between Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings. Both teams struck up a rivalry in the mid and late 20th Century being local rivals and being somewhat dominant forces in the Challenge Cup, Widnes were known as the Cup Kings during the late 1970s and 80s. In recent years the rivalry hasn't been as strong since Widnes were relegated in 2005 and promoted back to Super League in 2011 and Warrington became bigger rivals on the field with Leeds, Wigan and St Helens.

Calder Derby[edit]

The Calder Derby is the local debry between Castleford Tigers and Wakefield Trinity. Wakefield have traditionally been the more successful side winning 2 Championships and 5 Challenge Cups compared to Castleford never winning a title and winning 4 Challenge Cups. Castleford have been relegated from Super League twice, the second time against Wakefield in a game dubbed the Battle of Belle Vue. In recent seasons Wakefield have had financial difficulties and were denied planning permission for a new stadium. Castleford however have climbed up the table and are currently building a new stadium.

Coaches[edit]

Longest-serving coach Tony Smith
Nat. Name Club Appointed Time as head coach
England Wenger, ArseneDaryl Powell Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 7 May 2013 3 years, 76 days
France Frayssinous, LaurentLaurent Frayssinous Catalanscolours.svg Catalan Dragons 3 September 2012 3 years, 323 days
Australia Stone, RickRick Stone Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 11 July 2016 11 days
England Radford, LeeLee Radford Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 25 September 2013 2 years, 301 days
Australia Webster, JamesJames Webster
(Interim)
HKRcolours.svg Hull KR 4 March 2016 140 days
England McDermott, BrianBrian McDermott Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 25 October 2010 5 years, 271 days
Wales Ian Watson Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 3 September 2015 323 days
England Cunningham, KeironKeiron Cunningham Saintscolours.svg St Helens 20 October 2014 1 year, 276 days
England Chester, ChrisChris Chester Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 16 March 2016 128 days
Australia Smith, TonyTony Smith Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 5 March 2009 7 years, 139 days
England Betts, DenisDenis Betts Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings 11 November 2010 5 years, 254 days
England Wane, ShaunShaun Wane Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 9 October 2011 4 years, 287 days

Head Coaches with Super League titles[edit]

The Super League has been won by 12 different coaches, 8 from Australia, 3 from England and 1 from New Zealand.

Head Coach Wins Winning years
1 England Brian Noble 3 2001, 2003, 2005
2 England Brian McDermott 3 2011, 2012, 2015
3 Australia Matthew Elliott 2 1997, 1999
4 Australia Ian Millward 2 2000, 2002
5 Australia Tony Smith 2 2004, 2007
6 New Zealand Brian McClennan 2 2008, 2009
7 Australia Shaun McRae 1 1996
8 Australia John Monie 1 1998
9 Australia Daniel Anderson 1 2006
10 Australia Michael McGuire 1 2010
11 England Shaun Wane 1 2013
12 Australia Nathan Brown 1 2014

Players[edit]

  • Statistics are correct as of the start of the 2016 season.

Appearances[edit]

Kevin Sinfield made 521 appearances for Leeds Rhinos between 1997-2015
  • Note that appearances from the bench are also included in this list.
Rank Player Years Appearances
1 England Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 521
2 England Paul Wellens 1998–2015 496
3 England Jamie Peacock 1998–2015 475
4 England Lee Gilmour 1997–2014 460
5 England Keith Senior 1994– 2011 419
6 Wales Lee Briers 1997-2013 402
7 England Danny McGuire 2001–present 364
8 England Gareth Carvell 1997-2014 328
9 England Adrian Morley 1995–2015 316
10 New Zealand Robbie Hunter-Paul 1996-2009 308
11 England Ade Gardner 2002-2014 304
12 England Gareth Carvell 1997–2015 293
13 Samoa Harrison Hansen 2004-2015 286
14= Scotland Danny Brough 2005–present 275
New Zealand Ali Lauitiiti 2004-2015 275
15 Republic of Ireland Stuart Littler 1998-2010 269

Tries[edit]

Rank Player Years Tries
1 England Danny McGuire 2001–present 228
2 England Keith Senior 1994–2011 210
3 England Paul Wellens 1998-2015 199
4 England Ryan Hall 2007–present 165
5 England Ade Gardner 2002-2014 152

Points[edit]

Rank Player Years Points
1 England Kevin Sinfield 1997-2015 3,204
2 England Andrew Farrell 1996-2004 2,517
3 England Paul Deacon 1997-2011 2,415
4 England Sean Long 1996-2011 2,248
5 Republic of Ireland Pat Richards 2006–2013, 2016–present 2,187

Winning captains[edit]

7 players have captained teams to win the Super League.

Head Coach Wins Winning years
1 England Kevin Sinfield 7 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2 England Sean Long 4 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002
3 New Zealand Robbie Paul 3 1997, 2001, 2003
4 England Paul Wellens 2 2006, 2014
5 England Sean O'Loughlin 2 2010, 2013
6 England Andy Farrell 1 1998,
7 England Jamie Peacock 1 2005

Structure[edit]

World Club Series[edit]

Main article: World Club Series

The World Club Series consists of three games, the first two being a series between 2 NRL teams and the Super League League Leaders and Challenge Cup winners. The third game is the World Club Challenge between the NRL and Super League Champions.

Regular Super League season[edit]

12 teams compete in Super League. They play each other twice on a home-and-away basis, interrupted by the Magic Weekend round in May. The team finishing bottom after 23 rounds collects the Super League Wooden Spoon. After the 23 rounds, the top eight teams carry their points forward and play each other once (home or away) in the Super Eights. A play-off series is used to determine the two teams who will meet in the Super League Grand Final to compete for the championship.

Magic Weekend[edit]

Main article: Magic Weekend

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 Weekend" 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. It has since returned to its traditional mid-season slot and is currently held at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
St James' Park Newcastle England 40,871 30,000

Challenge Cup[edit]

Main article: Challenge Cup

The Challenge Cup domestic cup in Super League and all levels of rugby league in Britain And is usually played on August bank holiday. It has been held annually since 1896 and has been expanded so teams in Russia, France, Scotland and Wales can take part. The current winners are Leeds.

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
Wembley London England 99,801 77,000

Super 8s[edit]

Main article: Rugby League Super 8s
  • Top 8

The top 8 sees the top eight teams in Super League play each other once more home or away with the points they earn in the regular season being carried forward. The further up the table a team finishes, the more home games they will play. Once the teams have played each other once home or away the top team is awarded the League Leaders Shield and the top four teams enter the play offs to play in the Grand Final.

Position Qualification
1 League Leaders/
Play-off Place
2 Play-off Place
3 Play-off Place
4 Play-off Place
5 Unable to qualify for play-offs
6 Unable to qualify for play-offs
7 Unable to qualify for play-offs
8 Unable to qualify for play-offs
  • Qualifiers
Main article: The Qualifiers

The Qualifiers Super 8s sees the bottom 4 teams from the original Super League table mixed with the top 4 teams from the Championship. The points totals are reset to 0 and each team plays 7 games each, playing every other team once. After 7 games each the teams finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd will gain qualification to the next years Super League season. Teams finishing 4th and 5th will play in a Promotion Play-off, dubbed the "Million Pound Game" at the home of the 4th place team. This one game fixture will see the winner earn a place in the next year Super League season, whilst the loser, along with teams finishing 6th, 7th and 8th will be relegated to the next years Championship competition.

Position Qualification
1 Super League Place
2 Super League Place
3 Super League Place
4 Million Pound Game
5 Million Pound Game
6 Championship Place
7 Championship Place
8 Championship Place

Play-offs[edit]

From 2015 the play-offs have been contested by the four sides finishing highest in the league after the Super Eights. The structure is designed to reward the teams finishing nearer the top and the most consistent teams. The Grand Final is played at Old Trafford.

The current Super League Play-off structure:[18][19]

  • Top four play-offs
These matches involve the teams who finish in the top four.
They are:
  • 1st v 4th
  • 2nd v 3rd
The winners play in the Grand Final.

Grand Final[edit]

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
Old Trafford Trafford, Greater Manchester England 73,581 63,352

Awards[edit]

League Leader's Shield[edit]

Main article: League Leaders Shield

The League Leader's 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 7 1996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 4 1998, 2000, 2010, 2012
3 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 4 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 3 2004, 2009, 2015
5 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 1 2013
6 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1 2011
  • Bold - Winners were Super League champions

Super League Trophy[edit]

2012SuperLeagueTrophy.jpg

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 captain are engraved.

The record for most Super League titles won is held by Leeds with seven titles. Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield currently holds the record for captaining the most Super League title winning sides after captaining Leeds to all 7 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 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.

Following their 2014 and 2015 defeats to St Helens and Leeds respectively, Wigan have now equalled St Helens's record of losing five Grand Finals.

Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award[edit]

Main article: Man of Steel Award

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.

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.

Player Team Appearance
1 England Zak Hardaker Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 1
2 England Jermaine McGillvary Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 1
3 England Kallum Watkins Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 2
4 England Michael Shenton Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 2
5 England Joe Burgess Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1
6 Scotland Danny Brough Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 2
7 England Luke Gale Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 1
8 England Alex Walmsley Saintscolours.svg St Helens 1
9 England James Roby Saintscolours.svg St Helens 5
10 England Jamie Peacock Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 9
11 Cook Islands Zeb Taia Catalanscolours.svg Catalan Dragons 1
12 England Liam Farrell Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1
13 Australia Adam Cuthbertson Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 1

Champions[edit]

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 European champions, the first since the 1972–73 season.

Season Champions Score Runners-up League Leaders
1996 Saintscolours.svg St Helens
N/A
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Saintscolours.svg St Helens
1997 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
N/A
Broncoscolours.png London Broncos Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
1998 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 10–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1999 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 8–6 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2000 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 29–16 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2001 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 37–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2002 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 19–18 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2003 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 25–12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2004 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 16–8 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2005 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 15–6 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2006 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 26–4 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2007 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 33–6 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2008 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 24–16 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2009 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 18–10 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2010 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 22–10 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2011 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 32–16 Saintscolours.svg St Helens Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2012 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 26–18 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2013 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 30–16 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2014 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 14–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Saintscolours.svg St Helens
2015 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 22–20 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2016 Winner SF 1 Vs Winner SF 2 TBD

Results[edit]

Club Wins Runners
up
Winning Years
1 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 7 2 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 6 5 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2014
3 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 4 3 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 3 6 1998, 2010, 2013
5 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 0 2 N/A
6 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos 0 1 N/A
7 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 0 1 N/A

The Double[edit]

In rugby league, the term 'the Double' is referring to the achievement of a club that wins the top division and Challenge Cup in the same season. To date, this has been achieved by a total ten different clubs but by only four different clubs 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 3 1965–66, 1996, 2006
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 Hawks 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 RFC and Leeds Rhinos have won the treble in the Super League era.

Club Wins Winning years
1
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
3 1991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95
2
Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2 1912–13, 1914–15
3
Saintscolours.svg St Helens RFC
2 1965–66, 2006
4
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
1 1907–08
5
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
1 1927–28
6
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
1 2003
7
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
1 2015

All Four Cups[edit]

Main article: All Four Cups

Winning all Four Cups refers to winning the Super League, League Leaders Shield, Challenge Cup and World Club Challenge in one season. Not all of these cups were available in the past but have replaced over cups that could be won.

Club Wins Winning years
1
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet Hawks
1 1907–08
2
Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
1 1914–15
3
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
1 1927–28
4
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1 1994–95
5
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
1 2003–04
6
Saintscolours.svg St Helens
1 2006–07

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 six different 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 None Super League
2014–2016 First Utility First Utility Super League

As well as title sponsorship, Super League has a number of official partners and suppliers.[20] For the 2014 season these include Alcatel One Touch, Brut, Foxy Bingo, Irn-Bru, Isuzu and Specsavers. The official ball supplier is Rhino Rugby, who have held the contract since the 2013 season when they took over from Steeden.[21]

Competition rules[edit]

Club trained players[edit]

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 Catalans 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.[22]

club trained players
Year home grown players (min) UK trained players (min) overseas trained players (max)
2008 5 10 10
2009 6 11 8
2010 7 12 6
2011 8 12 5

Salary cap[edit]

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:[22]

  • 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 clubs salary cap as long as they can afford the players wages.

Squad announcement system[edit]

Before each Super League and Tetley's Challenge Cup fixture, each club must announce the squad of 19 players it will choose from by 2.00pm on the second day before the match day.[22]

Criticism[edit]

Big Four Dominance[edit]

Results of the 'Big Four'
Season Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Saintscolours.svg St Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1996 3 10 Champions 2
1997 Champions 5 3 4
1998 5 Runners up 4 Champions
1999 Runners up 3 Champions 4
2000 3 4 Champions Runners up
2001 Champions 5 4 Runners up
2002 Runners up 4 Champions 3
2003 Champions 2 4 Runners up
2004 Runners up Champions 5 4
2005 Champions Runners up 1 7
2006 4 3 Champions 8
2007 3 Champions Runners up 6
2008 5 Champions Runners up 4
2009 9 Champions Runners up 6
2010 10 4 Runners up Champions
2011 10 Champions Runners up 2
2012 9 Champions 3 1
2013 9 3 5 Champions
2014 13 (Relegated) 6 Champions Runners up
2015 - Champions 4 Runners up
Titles 4 7 6 3

Since its formation in 1996 only four teams have won the Super League (Leeds Rhinos, Bradford Bulls, Wigan Warriors, St Helens RLFC) and a total of six have taken part in the Grand Final (Hull FC, Warrington Wolves being the other two). Six different teams have also been the league leaders, however only one of these (Huddersfield Giants) is a different team to those that have appeared in the grand final, meaning that only seven different teams have been involved in the grand final or topped the regular season table, however a total of 23 teams have taken part in Super League since its inception.

In comparison, in the same 20-year period, 10 different teams have won the Australasian National Rugby League competition and 13 different teams have appeared in the Grand Final.

Licensing[edit]

Between 2009 and 2014 teams had to apply for a license to play in Super League, this also meant there was no automatic promotion between Super League and the Championship. This was unpopular with Championship clubs because there was no fair and easy way for them to get promoted into Super League and it was seen as a closed shop.

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. Also the only time that lower division clubs got the chance to play Super League opposition was in the early rounds of the challenge cup. With no route to the Super League however, teams were unable to compete with top division opposition because there was no way that clubs could attract top talent when players would not be playing in top-level rugby league.

M62 Corridor[edit]

Another Criticism of the Super League is that most of the teams that have competed in it have been in its heartlands of the M62 Corridor between Yorkshire and Lancashire. Catalans Dragons are the only team currently playing in Super League who are outside its traditional headland in the North of England and are considered a success compared to teams such as London Broncos and Celtic Crusaders.

Expansion was a key policy of the RFL when Super League was created. Along with the above-mentioned teams, Paris Saint-Germain RL competed from the beginning of the competition but departed after just two seasons due to a lack of interest and investment. Another team to fail from outside the heartlands was Gateshead Thunder who competed in the first season of Super League. After that first season they found themselves with debts of £700,000 and so accepted a grant of £1,250,000 to merge with Hull FC.

Expansion has taken place in the lower divisions and this is a continuing policy of the RFL. At present nine expansion clubs take part in the lower divisions with 1 in the Championship and 8 in the Championship 1. In 2015, it was announced that Toulouse Olympique had been granted entry into League 1, the third division of European rugby league; the team has previously competed in the Championship. This brought the total number of expansion teams across the top 3 divisions to 10 (out of 39 clubs). In 2016 it was announced that a team based in Toronto, Canada had also been granted access to League 1. Toronto Wolfpack will begin play in the 2017 season and will take the number of expansion clubs to 11 (out of 40 clubs). This also means that teams taking part in the top 3 divisions will come from 4 countries and 2 continents.

Match officials[edit]

Main article: RFL Match officials

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 Acting Head of the Match Officials Department and Technical Director. Former Hull player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp was the previous Head of the Match Officials Department of the RFL. 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.

Academies[edit]

Reserve League[edit]

In 2014 and 2015 Super League clubs were unhappy with the Dual registration system and wanted to form a Under 23 reserve leagues between the Under 19s and 1st team. 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 1st team. A reserve league was set up in 2016 with a mixture of Super League, Championship and League 1 teams.

Dual registration[edit]

Clubs in both the First Utility Super League and the Kingstone Press Championships benefit from the new dual registration system which was introduced for the 2013 season.[23] The new system is intended to complement the existing player loan system.

Dual registration refers to an arrangement between clubs whereby a player continues to be registered to his current First Utility Super League club and is also registered to play for a club in the Kingstone Press 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.

  • Only First Utility Super League players can be dual registered and the receiving club must be a club in the Kingstone Press 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 First Utility Super League club on a Thursday and in a Kingstone Press Championship fixture at the weekend, for example.
  • A receiving club will be limited to a total of five dual registered players per matchday squad.

Under 19s[edit]

In 2014 the following teams will run in each of the Senior Academy divisions:[24]