Rugby Super League (United States)

Last updated
Rugby Super League
US Rugby Super League Logo.png
Sport Rugby union
Inaugural season1997
No. of teams8
Country United States
New York Athletic Club (2012)
Official website

The USA Rugby Super League, usually known as the Super League, is a defunct national rugby union competition which ran from 1997 to 2012, contested by nine clubs in the United States by its last year. In the 2013 season, it was replaced by the USA Rugby Elite Cup.


The Super League competition was sanctioned by USA Rugby, the sport's national governing body, and was the premier level of rugby union in the country until it was reformatted into the Elite Cup. [1] [2]

Created by the management of 14 of the best rugby organizations in the United States, the league's goal was to create a high level, national rugby competition in the country. The competition was contested annually starting in 2007, with the largest number of clubs to have competed in the league being 18, in 2007 and 2008. In the 2011 season, the 11 teams competing were divided into two conferences, Red and Blue. The league's 2012 and last season had 9 teams, again divided into Red and Blue conferences. Most of the remaining teams after the final Rugby Super League season in 2012 entered the USA Rugby Elite Cup competition.


Season# TeamsFirst SeasonLast Season
200718Charlotte Rugby Club Santa Monica; Chicago Griffins;
Boston Irish Wolfhounds
200916 Belmont Shore; Santa Monica
201014 Boston Irish Wolfhounds
2011 12 Utah Warriors Utah Warriors; PAC Rugby
Chicago Lions
2012 9


Seasons 1997 to 2000

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

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

The following season in 1998, two more sides gained entry into the competition, Boston RFC and the Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC. Both teams joined the eastern conference, which saw the Harlequins move to the Western conference. This expansion saw two fifteen-team conferences.

Seasons 2001 to 2007

In 2001 the competition became recognized as the premier club rugby union competition in the United States - becoming separated from USA Rugby Division 1. In 2002, the league expanded again, with the inclusion of New York Athletic Club, who gained entry through means of promotion and the Hayward Rugby, who formed a merger with the Old Blues Rugby Club (CA).

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

2008 to 2012: Contraction and demise

In the 2008 season ESPN Classic broadcast live the RSL final between NYAC and Belmont Shore. It was a hard-fought match that saw NYAC winning 31–28 in sudden death.

In the 2009 season the league shrank, featuring 16 teams in two conferences. Philadelphia Whitemarsh, Washington RFC, and the St. Louis Bombers did not return to the competition, while Life University returned after a six-season absence. Because of the ongoing economic crisis, before the 2010 season longtime RSL powers Belmont Shore decided to only compete in Southern California's Division I competition. In response to this, Santa Monica also decided to self-relegate, dropping the number of teams to 14. Because of the uneven conferences, Dallas was shifted to the Red (West) Conference. In August 2010 the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, and Charlotte RFC also relegated themselves.

In the fall of 2011, PAC Rugby withdrew from the competition and the Utah Warriors, based in Salt Lake City, entered the competition. The Chicago Lions and Utah Warriors withdrew prior to the 2012 season. [5] The Chicago Griffins announced their withdrawal following the 2012 season. [6] With the exit of several teams over a number of years, the 2012 season was the last season for the Rugby Super League.

2013: Relaunch as Elite Cup

With eight teams remaining in two divisions, the RSL was relaunched as the USA Rugby Elite Cup for the 2013 season. The Elite Cup ran for one season before folding at the end of 2013. [7]

Teams (2012)

TeamCityStadiumJoinedHead Coach
Red Conference
Denver Barbarians Littleton, CO Shea Stadium1997 Flag of the United States.svg Jason Kelly
Old Puget Sound Beach Seattle, WA Magnuson Park 1997 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Evan Haigh
San Francisco Golden Gate San Francisco, CA Rocca Field 1997 Flag of the United States.svg Paul Keeler
Blue Conference
Boston RFC Boston, MA Franklin Park 1998 Flag of South Africa.svg Eugene Mountjoy
Dallas Harlequins Dallas, TX Glencoe Park1997 Flag of South Africa.svg Michael Engelbrecht
Life University Running Eagles Marietta, GA International Sports Complex1997; 2009 (re-joined) Flag of England.svg James Isaacson
New York Athletic Club Travers Island, NY Travers Island 2002 Flag of the United States.svg Mike Tolkin
Old Blue New York City, NY Pier 40 1997 Flag of New Zealand.svg Marty Veale

Results (1997-2012)

YearLocationFinal [8]
1997 San Diego, California Aspen 22 - 8 Old Blue
1998 Boston, Massachusetts Belmont Shore 28 - 10 Old Blue
1999 Denver, Colorado Denver Barbarians 22 - 18 Belmont Shore
2000 San Diego, California Life 43 - 21 Aspen
2001 Rockford, Illinois Aspen 56 - 21 OMBAC
2002 Aspen, Colorado Aspen 34 - 23 Belmont Shore
2003 San Francisco, California Belmont Shore 23 - 15 OMBAC
2004 Newport, Rhode Island Belmont Shore 24 - 21 San Francisco Golden Gate
2005 Rentschler Field
East Hartford, Connecticut
NYAC 23 - 19 Belmont Shore
2006 Buck Shaw Stadium
Santa Clara, California
OMBAC 36 - 33 Belmont Shore
2007The Little Q Rugby Field
San Diego, California
Belmont Shore 27 - 21 Chicago Lions
2008 Infinity Park
Glendale, Colorado
NYAC 31 - 28 (OT) Belmont Shore
2009 Infinity Park
Glendale, Colorado
San Francisco Golden Gate 23 - 13 Life
2010 Rocca Field
San Francisco, California
NYAC 28 – 25 San Francisco Golden Gate
2011 [9] International Sport Complex
Marietta, Georgia
San Francisco Golden Gate 20 - 15 Life
2012 Magnuson Park
Seattle, Washington
NYAC 32 - 29 Old Puget Sound Beach

Results by club

TeamWinnersRunners-upYears wonYears losing finalist
Belmont Shore 451998, 2003, 2004, 20071999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008
NYAC 402005, 2008, 2010,2012
Aspen 311997, 2001, 20022000
San Francisco Golden Gate 222009, 20112004, 2010
Life 1220002009, 2011
OMBAC 1220062001, 2003
Denver Barbarians 101999
Old Blue 021997, 1998
Chicago Lions 012007
Old Puget Sound Beach 012012

Notable players

See also

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  2. "Rugby Super League President Discusses Elite Cup".
  3. "Aspen clubs Old Blue for pro rugby crown". SFGate.
  4. "Boston Irish Wolfhounds To Join USA Rugby Super League". Archived from the original on 4 January 2013. Retrieved 31 August 2006.
  5. "Utah Warriors dropped from Rugby Super League".
  6. Junior Blaber. "USA Super League Rugby At Cossroads". Rugby Wrap Up.
  7. "The Fallout From The Elite Cup Demise - What Next For D1". Last word on sports. 19 January 2014.
  8. "USA Rugby SuperLeague - Overview". Retrieved 31 August 2008.
  9. "Home". Retrieved 4 April 2018.