Super League

Last updated

The Super League
Current season, competition or edition:
Rugby football current event.svg Super League XXVI
Super League logo 2017.jpg
The Super League logo between 2017 & 2019
Sport Rugby league
Founded1996;25 years ago (1996)
No. of teams12
CountryFlag of England.svg  England
Flag of France.svg  France
Most recent
champion(s)
Saintscolours.svg St Helens
(8th title)
Most titles Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
(8 titles)
TV partner(s) Sky Sport
BBC
Level on pyramid1
Relegation to Championship
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
International cup(s) World Club Challenge
Official website Super League

The Super League (SL) sponsored as the Betfred Super League is the top-level of the British rugby league system. The league currently has twelve teams, eleven of which are from Northern England, reflecting the sport's geographic popularity within the UK. The final team is Catalans Dragons, from southern France.

Contents

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 29 games between February and September: 11 home games, 11 away games, Magic Weekend and an additional 6 '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.

The Super League champions play the National Rugby League champions from Australasia in the World Club Challenge at the start of the season.

History

1996–2001: Establishment

A "super league" 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 an equivalent northern hemisphere Super League. A £77 million offer [1] and an £87 million payment [2] 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 in the new Super League with the following stand-alone clubs: Bradford Northern, Halifax, Leeds, London Broncos, Paris Saint-Germain, St Helens and Wigan.

However this proposal proved hugely unpopular as it would have meant the end of many historic and viable clubs, and consequently 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 Keighley who had just won the Second Division Championship. London Broncos, who had come fourth in the Second Division, were "fast-tracked" in with the RFL arguing it was an absolute commercial necessity to have a presence in the nation's capital city. A brand new team, Paris Saint-Germain, was created to give the new league a French dimension. Between 1998 and 2000 there was no relegation from the Super League.

2002–2008: Promotion and relegation

After two years Paris were dropped from the competition. Promotion and relegation between Super League and the Rugby League National Leagues was re-introduced, and in 2002 the Super League 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

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 the traditional promotion and relegation between leagues. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than simply the on-the-field performance of a club. [3] 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. [3]

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. [4]

Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competition and [5] three-yearly reviews of Super League membership took place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful. [4]

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. [6]

First licensing period

In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that the Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009, [7] [8] and on 22 July 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licences. [9] 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. [10]

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, [11] but despite this only Barrow, Halifax and Widnes decided to submit an application. [12] 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. [13]

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. [14] Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the club's finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League. [15] 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." [15] Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal. [15]

2015–2018: 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. [16]

The 12 First Utility Super League and 12 Kingstone Press Championship clubs played 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: [17] [18]

Funding for clubs was 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 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.

2019–onwards: Super League split from RFL

On 14 September 2018, an EGM was called to discuss the future of the sport and a change in structure, as the clubs were in favour of scrapping the Super 8s in favour of a more conventional structure. [19] The Super League clubs voted to split from the RFL and appoint their own CEO to have more control over TV and sponsorship money as well as scrapping the Super 8s but retaining promotion and relegation to apease the Championship clubs. [20] After the 2020 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Kingdom there were calls made from Super League clubs for the two executive bodies – Super League and the RFL – to re-amalgamate. [21]

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 temporarily removed promotion and relegation for the 2020 season in response to the pandemic. [22]

Structure

Super League regular season

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 29. The team finishing bottom after 29 rounds collects the Wooden Spoon, and is relegated, while the team finishing first is awarded the League Leaders Shield. The top 5 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. [23]

Magic Weekend

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

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; [24] 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

Leeds Rhinos celebrating following their 2008 Grand Final victory Rhinos2008.jpg
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.

CityStadiumYears
Flag of England.svg Manchester Old Trafford 1998–2019
Flag of England.svg Hull KCOM Stadium 2020
Flag of England.svg Manchester Old Trafford 2021–

Largest attendance

YearCityStadiumAttendance
2015 Flag of England.svg Manchester Old Trafford 73,512

Other competitions

Challenge Cup

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

Current clubs

Super League clubs
ColoursClubEstablishedCity/TownStadiumCapacity*Titles (Last)**
Castleford colours.svg
Castleford Tigers a1926 Castleford, West Yorkshire Wheldon Road 11,7750 (N/A)
Catalanscolours.svg
Catalans Dragons 2000 Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales Gilbert Brutus Stadium 13,0000 (N/A)
Giantscolours.svg
Huddersfield Giants c1864 Huddersfield, West Yorkshire Kirklees Stadium 24,5007 (1962)
Hullcolours.svg
Hull F.C. c1865 Hull, East Yorkshire KCOM Stadium 25,4006 (1983)
HKRcolours.svg
Hull Kingston Rovers 1882 Hull, East Yorkshire Craven Park 12,2255 (1985)
Rhinoscolours.svg
Leeds Rhinos abc1870 Leeds, West Yorkshire Headingley Stadium 19,70011 (2017)
Leigh colours.svg
Leigh Centurions 1878 Leigh, Greater Manchester Leigh Sports Village 12,0002 (1982)
Redscolours.svg
Salford Red Devils 1873 Salford, Greater Manchester Salford City Stadium 12,0006 (1976)
Saintscolours.svg
St Helens abc1873 St Helens, Merseyside Totally Wicked Stadium 18,00015 (2020)
Wcatscolours.svg
Wakefield Trinity c1873 Wakefield, West Yorkshire Belle Vue 9,3332 (1968)
Wolvescolours.svg
Warrington Wolves ab1876 Warrington, Cheshire Halliwell Jones Stadium 15,2003 (1955)
Wigancolours.svg
Wigan Warriors abc1872 Wigan, Greater Manchester DW Stadium 25,13322 (2018)

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

Current Champions

Former Super League clubs

Former Super League clubs
ColoursClubSeasons in
Super League
First season in
Super League
Last season in
Super League
Last top
division title**
Broncoscolours.png
London Broncos 2019962019N/A
Bullscolours.svg
Bradford Bulls 19199620142005
Widnes colours.svg
Widnes Vikings 11200220181989
Faxcolours.svg
Halifax Panthers 8199620031985–86
Sheffeagles colours.svg
Sheffield Eagles 419961999N/A
Cruscolours.svg
Celtic Crusaders § [lower-alpha 1] 320092011N/A
Oldhamcolours.svg
Oldham 2199619971956–57
France colours.svg
Paris Saint-Germain §219961997N/A
Gthundercolours.svg
Gateshead Thunder §119991999N/A
Workingtoncolours.svg
Workington Town 1199619961950–51
New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg
Toronto Wolfpack 120202020N/A

All Time Super League table

Current Super League team
§Club defunct
Pos.ClubSeasonsPWDLPDPts
1 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 25663470151787,581953
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 25664443241976,961904
3 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds 25648406172254,815829
4 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington 25657348132961,869709
5 Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 2362130521295135629
6 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 19509308171843367617
7 Castleford colours.svg Castleford 2360928220307−1,123584
8 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield 2258425114319-1,386516
9 Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield 225892157367−3,824433
10 Broncoscolours.png London 2053819520323-3,718410
11 Redscolours.svg Salford 225661918367−4,794382
12 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans 1539017611203-950363
13 HKRcolours.svg Hull KR 1332013310177-984276
14 Widnes colours.svg Widnes 11292978187−2,483202
15 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 8209764129−1262154
16 Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield 49737357−63677
17 Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead §1301911019939
18 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders § [lower-alpha 1] 38121060−103238
19 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham 24413229−37828
20 France colours.svg Paris §2449134−60719
21 Leigh colours.svg Leigh 251814295517
22 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington 1222119−6965
23 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto 1Withdrew after 7 rounds

Points deductions

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

Academies

Reserve league

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

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. [25]

  • 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

In 2017 the following teams will run in each of the Senior Academy divisions: [26] Super League Academy – U19s:

Champions

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. For the first 2 seasons of Super League, there was no Grand Final – The winners of the league were the team that finished top, as before in the previous Championship leagues.

SeasonChampionsScoreRunners-upLeague Leaders
I
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens N/A Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Saintscolours.svg St. Helens [lower-alpha 2]
II
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Broncoscolours.png London Broncos Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls [lower-alpha 2]
III
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 10–4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
IV
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
VI
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 37–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
VII
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 19–18 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
VIII
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 25–12 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
IX
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
XI
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 26–4 Hullcolours.svg Hull Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XII
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 33–6 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XIII
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 24–16 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XIV
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 18–10 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
XV
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 22–10 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
XVI
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 32–16 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
XVII
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 26–18 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
XVIII
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 30–16 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
XIX
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 14–6 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XX
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 22–20 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
XXI
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 12–6 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
XXII
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 24–6 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
XXIII
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 12–4 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XXIV
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 23–6 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
XXV
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 8–4 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
XXVI

Results

ClubWinsRunners
up
Winning Years
1 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 85 1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2014, 2019, 2020
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 82 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 56 1998, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018
3 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 43 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
4 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 04N/A
5 Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 01N/A
Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 01N/A
Hullcolours.svg Hull 01N/A
Broncoscolours.png London Broncos 01N/A

The Double

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, four of which occasions have been during the Super League era.

ClubWinsWinning years
1 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 71989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93,
1993–94, 1994–95, 2013
2 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 31965–66, 1996, 2006
3 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 21912–13, 1914–15
4 Barrowcolours.svg Broughton Rangers 11901–02
5 Faxcolours.svg Halifax 11902–03
6 Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet F.C. §11907–08
7 Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions 11927–28
8 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 11953–54
9 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 12003
10 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 12015

The Treble

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.

ClubWinsWinning years
1
Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
31991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95
2
Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
21912–13, 1914–15
3
Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
21965–66, 2006
4
Hunsletcolours.svg Hunslet F.C.
11907–08
5
Swintoncolours.svg Swinton Lions
11927–28
6
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
12003
7
Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
12015

The Quadruple

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

ClubWinsWinning years
1 Wigancolours.svg Wigan 11994–95
2 Bullscolours.svg Bradford 12003–04
3 Saintscolours.svg St Helens 12006–07

Teams relegated

YearRelegated Club(s)
1996 Workingtoncolours.svg Workington Town
1997 Oldhamcolours.svg Oldham Bears
France colours.svg Paris Saint Germain folded at end of season
1998 Gthundercolours.svg Gateshead Thunder merged with Hullcolours.svg Hull Sharks
Sheffeagles colours.svg Sheffield Eagles and Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants merged to form Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants
1999–2000: No relegation [27]
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 [28]
2007 Redscolours.svg Salford City Reds
2008–2010: No relegation
2011 Cruscolours.svg Crusaders RL [29]
2012–2013: No relegation
2014 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2015 None [30]
2016 HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers
2017 Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions
2018 Widnes colours.svg Widnes Vikings
2019 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2020 New Zealand Kiwis colours.svg Toronto Wolfpack [31]

Awards

League Leaders' Shield

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.

ClubWinsWinning years
1 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 91996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2018, 2019
2 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 51998, 2000, 2010, 2012, 2020
3 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls 41997, 1999, 2001, 2003
4 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 32004, 2009, 2015
5 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 22011, 2016
6 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 12013
7 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 12017

Super League Trophy

The Super League Trophy 2012SuperLeagueTrophy.jpg
The Super League Trophy

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 and Leeds with eight 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 two grand finals, defeating Salford in 2019 and Wigan again, in 2020.

Following their 2014, 2015 and 2020 defeats to St. Helens and Leeds, Wigan have now broken St Helens's record of losing five Grand Finals, losing a total of six. Hull FC (2006), Warrington (2012, 2013, 2016, and 2018), Castleford (2017), and Salford (2019) have all appeared in the Grand Final but never won.

Steve Prescott 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.

Albert Goldthorpe Medal

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

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 2020 dream team is as follows:

PlayerTeamAppearance
1 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Bevan French Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 1
2 Flag of New Zealand.svg Krisnan Inu Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 1
3 Flag of England.svg Toby King Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1
4 Flag of Tonga.svg Konrad Hurrell Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 2
5 Flag of England.svg Ash Handley Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 2
6 Flag of England.svg Jonny Lomax Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 2
7 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Aidan Sezer Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 1
8 Flag of England.svg Mike Cooper Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 1
9 Flag of England.svg Paul McShane Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 1
10 Flag of England.svg Alex Walmsley Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 2
11 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Kelepi Tanginoa Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 1
12 Flag of England.svg Liam Farrell Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 3
13 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Morgan Knowles Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 2

Coaches

Nat.NameClubAppointedTime as head coach
Flag of England.svg Daryl Powell Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers 7 May 20138 years, 37 days
Flag of England.svg Steve McNamara Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons 19 June 20173 years, 359 days
Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Ian Watson Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants 19 November 2020206 days
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Brett Hodgson Hullcolours.svg Hull F.C. 25 November 2020200 days
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Tony Smith HKRcolours.svg Hull Kingston Rovers 6 June 20192 years, 7 days
Flag of England.svg Richard Agar Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos 7 May 20192 years, 37 days
Flag of Scotland.svg John Duffy Leigh colours.svg Leigh Centurions 22 November 20182 years, 203 days
Four Provinces Flag.svg Richard Marshall Redscolours.svg Salford Red Devils 1 December 2020194 days
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Kristian Woolf Saintscolours.svg St. Helens 13 October 20191 year, 243 days
Flag of England.svg Chris Chester Wcatscolours.svg Wakefield Trinity 16 March 20165 years, 89 days
Flag of Australia (converted).svg Steve Price Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves 6 October 20173 years, 250 days
Flag of Papua New Guinea.svg Adrian Lam Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors 14 October 20182 years, 242 days

Head coaches with Super League titles

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

Head CoachWinsWinning years
1 Flag of England.svg Brian McDermott 42011, 2012, 2015, 2017
2 Flag of England.svg Brian Noble 32001, 2003, 2005
3 Flag of England.svg Shaun Wane 32013, 2016, 2018
4 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ian Millward 22000, 2002
5 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Tony Smith 22004, 2007
6 Flag of New Zealand.svg Brian McClennan 22008, 2009
7 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Shaun McRae 11996
8 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Matthew Elliott 11997
9 Flag of Australia (converted).svg John Monie 11998
10 Flag of England.svg Ellery Hanley 11999
11 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Daniel Anderson 12006
12 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Michael Maguire 12010
13 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Nathan Brown 12014
14 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Justin Holbrook 12019
15 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Kristian Woolf 12020

Coaches to have coached at least 200 Super League games

Statistics correct as of 12 June 2021

RankPlayerClub(s)Games
1 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Tony Smith Huddersfield (2001, 2003)
Leeds (2004–2007),
Warrington (2009–2017)
Hull KR (2019–present)
472
2 Flag of England.svg Brian McDermott London (2007–2010)
Leeds (2011–2018)
Toronto (2020)
340
3 Flag of England.svg Brian Noble Bradford (2001–2006)
Wigan (2006–2009)
Crusaders (2010)
Salford (2013–2014)
321
4 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Shaun McRae St. Helens (1996–1998)
Gateshead (1999)
Hull (2000–2004)
Salford (2007, 2009–2011)
312
5 Flag of England.svg Daryl Powell Leeds (2001–2003)
Castleford (2013–2021)
Warrington (2022-)
304
6 Flag of England.svg John Kear Sheffield (1997–1999),
Huddersfield (2000)
Hull (2005–2006)
Wakefield (2006–2011)
272
7 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ian Millward St. Helens (2000–2005)
Wigan (2005–2006)
Castleford (2012–2013)
228
8= Flag of England.svg Steve McNamara Bradford (2006–2010),
Catalans (2017–present)
213
8= Flag of England.svg Richard Agar Hull (2006, 2008–2011),
Wakefield (2012-2014),
Leeds (2019–present)
212
10 Flag of England.svg Shaun Wane Wigan (2012–2018)208

Players

Players to have made over 350 Super League Appearances

Kevin Sinfield holds the record for the most appearances in Super League. Sinfield made 454 appearances for Leeds Rhinos Kevin Sinfield 1.jpg
Kevin Sinfield holds the record for the most appearances in Super League. Sinfield made 454 appearances for Leeds Rhinos
RankPlayerYearsClub(s)Appearances
1 Flag of England.svg Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 Leeds 454
2 Flag of England.svg Andy Lynch 1999–2017 Castleford, Bradford, Hull FC, Castleford 452
3 Flag of England.svg Paul Wellens 1998–2015 St. Helens 443
4 Flag of England.svg Jamie Peacock 1998–2015 Bradford, Leeds 438
5= Flag of England.svg Rob Burrow 2001–2017 Leeds 431
5= Flag of England.svg Leon Pryce 1998–2016 Bradford, St. Helens, Hull FC, Catalans 431
7 Flag of England.svg Ben Westwood 1999–2019 Wakefield, Warrington 430
8 Flag of England.svg James Roby 2004–present St. Helens 428
9 Flag of England.svg Danny Tickle 2000–2018 Halifax, Wigan, Hull FC, Widnes,
Castleford, Leigh, Hull KR
419
10 Flag of England.svg Keith Senior 1996– 2011 Sheffield, Leeds 413
11 Flag of England.svg Lee Gilmour 1997–2014 Wigan, Bradford, St. Helens, Huddersfield,
Castleford, Wakefield
412
12 Flag of England.svg Danny McGuire 2001–2019 Leeds, Hull KR 408
13 Flag of England.svg Sean O'Loughlin 2002–2020 Wigan 403
14 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Lee Briers 1997–2013 St. Helens, Warrington 402
15 Flag of England.svg Jon Wilkin 2003–2018,
2020
St. Helens, Toronto 385
16 Flag of England.svg Paul Deacon 1997–2011 Oldham, Bradford, Wigan 384
17 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Keiron Cunningham 1996–2010 St. Helens 382
18 Flag of England.svg Danny Orr 1997–2012 Castleford, Wigan, Harlequins RL, Castleford 381
19 Flag of England.svg Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook 2006–present Harlequins R.L, St. Helens 369
20 Flag of England.svg Jamie Jones-Buchanan 1999–2019 Leeds 366
21 Flag of England.svg Jon Clarke 1997–2014 Wigan, London, Warrington, Widnes 360
22 Flag of England.svg Stuart Fielden 1998–2013 Bradford, Wigan, Huddersfield 359
23 Flag of England.svg Kevin Brown 2003–present Wigan, Huddersfield, Widnes,
Warrington, Salford
357
24 Flag of Scotland.svg Richard Horne 1999–2014 Hull 353
25 Flag of England.svg Mickey Higham 2001–2017 St. Helens, Wigan, Warrington, Leigh 352

Tries

Danny McGuire is the highest ever try scorer in Super League with 247 Danny McGuire Leeds Rhinos.jpg
Danny McGuire is the highest ever try scorer in Super League with 247
RankPlayerYearsClubsTries
1 Flag of England.svg Danny McGuire 2001–2019 Leeds, Hull KR 247
2 Flag of England.svg Ryan Hall 2007–2018
2021–present
Leeds, Hull KR 207
3= Flag of England.svg Paul Wellens 1998–2015 St. Helens 199
3= Flag of England.svg Keith Senior 1996–2011 Sheffield, Leeds 199
5 Flag of England.svg Josh Charnley 2010-2016,
2018–present
Hull KR, Wigan,
Warrington
189

Points

RankPlayerYearsClubsPoints
1 Flag of England.svg Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 Leeds 3,443
2 Flag of Scotland.svg Danny Brough 2005–2006,
2008–2020
Hull FC, Castleford,
Wakefield x2, Huddersfield
2,462
3 Flag of England.svg Paul Deacon 1997–2011 Oldham, Bradford, Wigan 2,415
4 Flag of England.svg Andrew Farrell 1996–2004 Wigan 2,372
5 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 2006–2013, 2016 Wigan, Catalans 2,280

Winning captains

Sean O'Loughlin captained the Wigan Warriors to four Super League Grand Final victories, the second most in Super League history Sean O'Loughlin Wigan.jpg
Sean O'Loughlin captained the Wigan Warriors to four Super League Grand Final victories, the second most in Super League history

11 players have captained teams to win the Super League.

CaptainWinsWinning years
1 Flag of England.svg Kevin Sinfield 72004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2 Flag of England.svg Sean O'Loughlin 42010, 2013, 2016, 2018
3 Flag of England.svg Chris Joynt 31999, 2000, 2002
4 Flag of New Zealand.svg Robbie Paul 31997, 2001, 2003
5 Flag of England.svg James Roby 22019, 2020
6 Flag of England.svg Bobbie Goulding 11996
7 Flag of England.svg Andy Farrell 11998
8 Flag of England.svg Jamie Peacock 12005
9 Flag of England.svg Sean Long 12006
10 Flag of England.svg Paul Wellens 12014
11 Flag of England.svg Danny McGuire 12017

Top Try Scorer by season

YearPlayerTriesTeam
1996 Flag of England.svg Paul Newlove 28 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1997 Flag of New Zealand.svg Nigel Vagana 17 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
1998 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Anthony Sullivan 20 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1999 Flag of New Zealand.svg Toa Kohe-Love 25 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2000 Flag of England.svg Sean Long & Flag of England.svg Tommy Martyn 22both Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2001 Flag of England.svg Kris Radlinski 27 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2002 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Dennis Moran 22 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2003 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Dennis Moran 24 Broncoscolours.png London Broncos
2004 Flag of New Zealand.svg Lesley Vainikolo 36 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2005 Flag of England.svg Mark Calderwood 27 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2006 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Justin Murphy 25 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
2007 Flag of Samoa.svg Henry Fa'afili 21 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2008 Flag of England.svg Ade Gardner 26 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2009 Flag of England.svg Ryan Hall 29 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2010 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 29 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2011 Flag of England.svg Ryan Hall & Flag of England.svg Sam Tomkins 28 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos & Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2012 Flag of England.svg Josh Charnley 31 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2013 Flag of England.svg Josh Charnley 33 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2014 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Joel Monaghan 28 Wolvescolours.svg Warrington Wolves
2015 Flag of England.svg Jermaine McGillvary 27 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2016 Flag of New Zealand.svg Denny Solomona 40 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2017 Flag of England.svg Greg Eden 38 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2018 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Ben Barba 28 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2019 Flag of England.svg Tommy Makinson 23 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2020 Flag of England.svg Ash Handley 14 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos

Top Points Scorer by season

YearPlayerPointsTeam
1996 Flag of England.svg Bobbie Goulding 257 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
1997 Flag of England.svg Andy Farrell 243 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
1998 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Iestyn Harris 333 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
1999 Flag of Wales (1959-present).svg Iestyn Harris 325 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2000 Flag of England.svg Sean Long 352 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2001 Flag of England.svg Andy Farrell 388 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2002 Flag of England.svg Paul Deacon 301 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2003 Flag of England.svg Paul Deacon 286 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2004 Flag of England.svg Kevin Sinfield 277 Rhinoscolours.svg Leeds Rhinos
2005 Flag of England.svg Paul Deacon 322 Bullscolours.svg Bradford Bulls
2006 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Jamie Lyon 316 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2007 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 248 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2008 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 269 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2009 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 252 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2010 Four Provinces Flag.svg Pat Richards 388 Wigancolours.svg Wigan Warriors
2011 Flag of England.svg Jamie Foster 330 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2012 Flag of Australia (converted).svg Scott Dureau 281 Catalanscolours.svg Catalans Dragons
2013 Flag of Scotland.svg Danny Brough 208 Giantscolours.svg Huddersfield Giants
2014 Flag of England.svg Marc Sneyd 224 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2015 Flag of England.svg Luke Gale 247 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2016 Flag of England.svg Luke Gale 262 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2017 Flag of England.svg Luke Gale 317 Castleford colours.svg Castleford Tigers
2018 Flag of England.svg Danny Richardson 296 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2019 Flag of Scotland.svg Lachlan Coote 259 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
2020 Flag of Scotland.svg Lachlan Coote 174 Saintscolours.svg St. Helens
logo used from 1996 to 2016 Super League logo.png
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 Super League logo 2017.jpg
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

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:

PeriodSponsorName
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
2013no sponsorSuper League
2014–2016 First Utility First Utility Super League
2017–2021 Betfred Betfred Super League

As well as title sponsorship, Super League has a number of official partners and suppliers. [32] For the 2017 season these include Kingstone Press Cider, Dacia, Foxy Bingo, Batchelors and Specsavers.

The official rugby ball supplier is Steeden. [33]

Competition rules

Overseas quota and Federation-trained players

An overseas quota restricting the maximum number of foreign players at each club has existed since the inception of the Super League in 1996. [34] 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. [35] 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. [36]

Salary cap

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. [37]

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: [38]

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. [39]

Squad announcement system

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. [38]

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 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

Big Four dominance

Key

  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 31012
1997 1534
1998 5241
1999 1324
2000 3421
2001 1542
2002 2413
2003 1243
2004 2154
2005 3217
2006 4318
2007 3216
2008 5214
2009 9126
Titles4451
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 4213
2011 5321
2012 5312
2013 3542
2014 6125
2015 1236
2016 9432
2017 2469
2018 10124
2019 8124
2020 5213
Titles4340

Since its formation in 1996 only four teams have won the Super League (Bradford Bulls, Leeds Rhinos, St. Helens and Wigan Warriors). Also, only eight teams have taken part in the Grand Final (Hull FC, Castleford, Warrington Wolves, and Salford Red Devils, being the other four). Seven 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. [40] 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

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

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 are outside this comparatively small area.

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 above-mentioned team 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, whilst 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.

Media coverage

Television

Sky Sports have been the primary broadcast partner of Super League since its inaugural season in 1996. The current deal lasts until 2021 and covers 80 matches per season, rising to 100 from 2015. They currently have the rights to show live Super League games in both Ireland and the United Kingdom; two live matches are broadcast each week – one on Thursday nights at 7:30 pm (kick off 8 pm) and another at 7:30 pm on Friday nights (kick off 8 pm). From 2014, they also simulcast all of Catalans Dragons' home games.

DurationBroadcaster
1996–2021 Sky Sports

Detailed Sky coverage

Highlights

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 Midlands, North East & Cumbria, and East Yorkshire & Lincolnshire regions on BBC 1 on Monday nights (after 11 pm) and is repeated nationally on BBC 2 on Tuesday afternoons. [41] 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 programmeDurationBroadcaster
Super League Show 1999–Present BBC

International

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

Country/ RegionBroadcaster
Middle East OSN (no longer available)
North Africa
Flag of France.svg  France beIN Sports [42]
Sport en France [43]
Flag of New Zealand.svg  New Zealand Sky Sport
Māori Television
Flag of the United States.svg  United States Fox Soccer Plus
Flag of Canada (Pantone).svg  Canada Sportsnet World
Flag of Brazil.svg  Brazil BandSports (no longer available)
Flag of Russia.svg  Russia NTV+ (no longer available)
Balkans Sportklub (no longer available)
Flag of Australia (converted).svg  Australia Fox League

Radio

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. [44] 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:

StationArea
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:

All Super League commentaries on any station are available via the particular stations on-line streaming.

Internet

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. [45] 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

Notes

  1. 1 2 Active as North Wales Crusaders
  2. 1 2 Championship by definition were league leaders for 1996 and 1997.

Related Research Articles

Widnes Vikings English part time rugby league club

Widnes Vikings are an English rugby league club in Widnes, Cheshire, which competes in the RFL Championship. The club plays home matches at the Halton Stadium. Founded as Widnes Football Club, they are one of the original twenty-two rugby clubs that formed the Northern Rugby Football Union in 1895. Their historic nickname is "The Chemics" after the main industry in Widnes, but now they use their modern nickname, "The Vikings".

Joel Tomkins England dual-code international rugby footballer

Joel Andrew Tomkins is an English professional rugby league footballer plays in the second-row forward for the Catalans Dragons in the Betfred Super League, and has played for England at international level.

Catalans Dragons French professional rugby league club, based in Perpignan

The Catalans Dragons are a professional rugby league club from Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales department, France. The team competes in the Super League. Seen as representing greater Catalonia, the Dragons have also played home matches in Barcelona, attracting a Super League regular season record crowd of 31,555 at FC Barcelona's football temple Nou Camp in 2019. They are currently the only teams in the top-tier competition from outside England. The Dragons play regular home games at Stade Gilbert Brutus in the centre of the city. Catalans Dragons are the first non-British team to win the Challenge Cup since the competition started in 1896, after beating Warrington Wolves 20–14 at Wembley Stadium on 25 August 2018.

Matty Smith (rugby league) England international rugby league footballer

Mathew Joe Smith is an English rugby league footballer who plays as a scrum-half for the Widnes Vikings in the Betfred Championship. He has played for the England Knights and England at international level.

Super League XIV

The 2009 Super League season is the 14th season of rugby league since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the Minor Premiership over 27 rounds after which, the highest finishing teams entered the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the Super League Trophy. The previous Top six play-offs are extended to eight teams.

Challenge Cup Rugby league knockout cup competition organised by the Rugby Football League

The Challenge Cup is a knockout rugby league cup competition organised by the Rugby Football League, held annually since 1896, with the exception of 1915–1919 and 1939–1940, due to World War I and World War II respectively. It involves amateur, semi-professional and professional clubs.

The 2012–14 Super League licences were awarded following the second round of licensing for the Super League rugby league competition. Successful applicants were given a three-year licence to compete in Super League, the premier rugby league competition in Europe.

The 2010 Super League season was the 15th season of the European rugby league football competition, Super League. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds. All clubs also participated in the 2010 Challenge Cup tournament. The season officially kicked off on 5 February with the Crusaders versus the Leeds Rhinos on 29 January at Crusaders' new homeground at the Racecourse Ground in Wrexham. Crusaders halfback Michael Witt scored the first points of the season with a penalty goal and the Rhinos came away with the first competition points, posting a 34 to 6 victory.

The 2010 Wigan Warriors season is the club's fifteenth season in the Super League, since its launch in 1996. Wigan Warriors entered the season following their sixth-placed league finish and subsequent play-off knock-out in the 2009 Super League season, as well as their semi-final knock-out in the 2009 Challenge Cup. The 2010 season is the eleventh year in which rugby league has been played at the town's DW Stadium.

The 2011 Super League season was the 16th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds, after which the highest finishing teams entered the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the championship and the Super League Trophy. Leeds Rhinos claimed their fifth Super League crown, tying the record previously held by St. Helens, whilst the Warrington Wolves lifted the League Leaders' Shield.

The 2012 Super League season was the 17th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds, which was won by the Wigan Warriors. After the regular season, the 8 highest finishing teams entered the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the championship and the Super League Trophy.

The 2012 Super League Grand Final was the 15th official Grand Final and conclusive and championship-deciding match of the Super League XVII season. The match was held on Saturday 6 October 2012, at Old Trafford, Manchester, and was contested by English clubs Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves. The 2012 Grand Final was a repeat of the 2012 Challenge Cup Final, in which Warrington beat Leeds 35-18 at Wembley Stadium, although it was Leeds who would win the Super League Grand Final, winning 26-18.

The 2013 Super League season was the 18th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds, after which the highest finishing teams entered the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the championship and the Super League Trophy.

Super League XIX

The 2014 Super League season was the 19th season of rugby league football since the Super League format was introduced in 1996. Fourteen teams competed for the League Leaders' Shield over 27 rounds, after which the highest finishing teams will enter the play-offs to compete for a place in the Grand Final and a chance to win the championship and the Super League Trophy.

The 2016 Super League season, known as the First Utility Super League XXI for sponsor reasons, was the 21st season of the Super League and 122nd season of rugby league in Britain. Twelve teams competed over 23 rounds, including the Magic Weekend which took place at St James' Park, after which the eight highest entered the Super League play-offs for a place in the Super League Grand Final. The four lowest teams then entered the qualifying play-offs, along with the four highest teams from the Championship, to determine which teams will play again in Super League XXII. Wigan Warriors are the current champions after successfully defeating Warrington Wolves 12–6 at Old Trafford.

The 2017 Super League season, known as the Betfred Super League XXII for sponsorship reasons, was the 22nd season of the Super League and 123rd season of rugby league in Britain. Twelve teams competed over 23 rounds, including the Magic Weekend, which took place at St James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, after which the eight highest entered the Super League play-offs for a place in the Super League Grand Final. The four lowest teams then entered the qualifying play-offs, along with the four highest teams from the Championship, to determine which teams will play again in Super League XXIII.

The 2018 Super League season, known as the Betfred Super League XXIII for sponsor reasons, was the 23rd season of the Super League and 124th season of rugby league in Britain. It was won by Wigan Warriors, who were crowned champions after beating Warrington Wolves 12-4. It was Wigan's 22nd Championship win and a new record for being champions. They are now 9 titles ahead of the next team.

Super League XXIV, known as the Betfred Super League XXIV for sponsorship reasons, was the 2019 iteration of and the 24th season of the Super League and 125th season of rugby league in Great Britain.

Super League XXV, known as the Betfred Super League for sponsorship reasons, was the 25th season of the Super League and 126th season of rugby league in Great Britain. St Helens were the reigning champions going into Super League XXV. At the start of the season, it consisted of twelve professional rugby league teams: ten from England, one from Canada, and one from France. Due to financial pressures related to the season suspension, Canadian side Toronto Wolfpack withdrew from the league in July 2020, and the league continued with just 11 teams.

The 2020 Challenge Cup known as the Coral Challenge Cup for sponsorship reasons, was the 119th staging of the Challenge Cup, the main rugby league knockout tournament for teams in the Super League, the British national leagues and a number of invited amateur clubs.

References

Inline

  1. Hansard (26 April 1995). "Rugby League". UK Parliament. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  2. Mike Parsons (23 June 2006). "Rugby League". Warrington Guardian. Retrieved 9 February 2021.
  3. 1 2 BBC Sport (19 May 2005). "Super League set for 2009 changes". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  4. 1 2 RFL. "Licensing". The Rugby Football League. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  5. BBC Sport (22 May 2005). "Franchise system 'is way forward'". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  6. Angela Powers. "Licence to thrill". Sky Sports. Archived from the original on 25 March 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  7. Gary Slater (18 June 2008). "Super League to expand to 14". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  8. Sky Sports (17 June 2008). "Super League set to expand". Sky Sports. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  9. BBC Sport (16 July 2008). "Clubs confident over franchises". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  10. Ian Laybourn. "Leigh blast for Super League". Sporting Life. Archived from the original on 5 June 2011. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  11. BBC Sport (8 October 2010). "Five clubs in Super League queue". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  12. BBC Sport (3 December 2010). "Widnes, Halifax and Barrow meet Super League deadline". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  13. "Vikings awarded Super League licence". Super League Official. 31 March 2011. Archived from the original on 10 September 2012. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  14. "Thirteen Super League licences awarded for 2012 to 2014". RFL. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  15. 1 2 3 BBC Sport (26 July 2011). "Crusaders withdraw application for Super League place". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  16. Super League to become a 12-team competition from 2015. Superleague.co.uk (11 July 2013). Retrieved on 20 August 2013.
  17. "RFL Chief Executive Policy Review" (PDF). RFL. September 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  18. "Super League: Competition restructures confirmed". BBC Sport. 17 January 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  19. Westmorland, Gareth (14 September 2018). "Explained: How Super League's 2019 structure works". Hull Daily Mail. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  20. Shaw, Matthew (21 December 2018). "RFL usher in rule changes for 2019". Total Rugby League. Retrieved 26 May 2020.
  21. "Calls grow for Super League to return to the fold". Rugby Leaguer & League Express (3, 224). 4 May 2020. p. 3.
  22. "Leigh Centurions will replace Toronto Wolfpack and play in Super League in 2021". Sky Sports. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  23. BBC Sport (19 November 2018). "Super League: Golden-point extra time introduced for regular season from 2019". BBC Sport. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
  24. 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.
  25. Wilson, Andy (9 February 2013). "Debate continues over Super League and Championship dual registration" . Retrieved 25 January 2017 via The Guardian.
  26. "Match Centre - Rugby-League.com" . Retrieved 25 January 2017.
  27. Hunslet Hawks and Dewsbury Rams denied promotion due to not meeting stadium criteria in 1999 and 2000 respectively
  28. Catalans Dragons finished bottom, but were exempt from relegation
  29. Crusaders withdrew application for Super League licence for 2012–2014
  30. Wakefield defeated Bradford in the Million Pound game to retain Super League place
  31. 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
  32. "Super League Partners". web.archive.org. 9 August 2013. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  33. "Steeden become Official Match Ball Partner". www.rugby-league.com. Retrieved 11 May 2021.
  34. Hadfield, Dave (24 January 1996). "Tries to be given trial by television". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  35. Hadfield, Dave (5 February 2007). "Overseas quotas on clubs' agenda". The Independent. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  36. "Operational Rules". The Rugby Football League. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  37. Fisher, Michael (12 January 2001). "Salary cap to be squeezed to £1.8m". Telegraph. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  38. 1 2 "Competition Structure". The RFL. Archived from the original on 11 February 2010. Retrieved 2010.Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  39. Bower, Aaron (5 April 2017). "Super League clubs vote for salary cap rise and second marquee player". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 July 2017.
  40. "1991 Premiership Final: 28 Year Ago Today". www.hullfc.com.
  41. "BBC Super League Show: New series starts on 10 February". 7 February 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  42. "Les Dragons Catalans et la Super League de retour sur beIN SPORTS". sport-tv.org. Franck Loisel. 29 March 2021. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  43. Jacquemart, Nicolas (2 April 2021). "Les Dragons Catalans et l'Elite 1 diffusés sur Sport en France". treizemondial.fr. Dicodusport. Retrieved 20 April 2021.
  44. "Super League: BBC Radio 5 live sports extra to air new show". 4 February 2014. Retrieved 25 January 2017 via www.bbc.co.uk.
  45. List of Super League games available on Livestation.com

General