|Super League I|
Wigan vs St. Helens (21 June)
Workington Town vs London Broncos (23 June)
|Broadcast partners||Sky Sports|
|Champions|| St. Helens |
1st Super League title
8th English title
|Man of Steel||Andrew Farrell|
|Top point-scorer(s)||Bobbie Goulding (257)|
|Top try-scorer(s)||Paul Newlove (28)|
|Promotion and relegation|
|Promoted from First Division||Salford Reds|
|Relegated to First Division||Workington Town|
The year 1996's Stones Bitter Super League I was the official name for the 102nd season of top-level rugby league football, and the first year of Europe's new championship: Super League. It is also the first season of rugby league to be played in summer.The competition featured all eleven teams from the 1995–96 Rugby Football League season plus one expansion club, Paris Saint-Germain.
Twelve teams were selected to play in the inaugural Super League season.
|Challenge Cup Holders|
|Promoted/ New franchise|
|Bradford Bulls||7th||Odsal||27,000||Bradford, West Yorkshire|
|Castleford Tigers||6th||Wheldon Road||11,750||Castleford, West Yorkshire|
|Halifax Blue Sox||3rd||Thrum Hall||9,832||Halifax, West Yorkshire|
|Leeds||2nd||Headingley||21,500||Leeds, West Yorkshire|
|London Broncos||10th||The Valley||27,000||Charlton, Greater London|
|Oldham Bears||8th||Watersheddings||9,000||Oldham, Greater Manchester|
|Paris Saint-Germain||N/A||Sébastien Charléty Stadium||20,000||Paris, France|
|Sheffield Eagles||5th||Don Valley Stadium||25,000||Sheffield, South Yorkshire|
|St. Helens||4th||Knowsley Road||17,500||St Helens, Mersyside|
|Warrington Wolves||9th||Wilderspool||9,200||Warrington, Cheshire|
|D*||Wigan||1st||Central Park||18,000||Wigan, Greater Manchester|
|Workington Town||11th||Derwent Park||10,000||Workington, Cumbria|
Rules to ensure the sustainability of Super League clubs were introduced:
To protect global Super League interests:
Four new rules were introduced for the inaugural Super League season:
In an attempt to "clean up" the ruck:
On 29 March 1996, Super League kicked off in Paris before 17,873 people at the Charlety Stadium when new team Paris Saint Germain overcame Sheffield Eagles 30-24.Jacques Fouroux, the PSG president, described that night, "Ninety eight per cent of them [the crowd] were new to the game, but they understood it right away. They saw tries, lots of commitment and lots of movement. They saw beauty. They attended a great party."
The reigning champions Wigan were hoping to maintain their hold on the championship in the newly formed Super League. However, at the end of the season St. Helens were crowned inaugural Super League champions after a win over Warrington Wolves at Knowsley Road, finishing in first position on the league ladder.During the year a secondary title, known as the Premiership was also played, with the final being contested between Wigan and the championship winners St. Helens with Wigan coming out victorious and Andy Farrell winning the Harry Sunderland Trophy.
Workington Town finished bottom for the second successive season and thus relegated to the first division. To date this is their only Super League season and no other club from Cumbria has competed since, Salford Reds were promoted to take their place in Super League II.
|6||Halifax Blue Sox||22||10||1||11||667||576||+91||21|
|12||Workington Town||22||2||1||19||325||1021||-696||5||Relegated to Championship|
The top four finishing teams competed in a short play-off series for the Premiership Trophy. The final was played between the Wigan and St. Helens on Sunday, 8 September at Old Trafford before a crowd of 35,013.Wigan won the match 44-14 and their loose forward Andy Farrell received the Harry Sunderland Trophy as man-of-the-match.
The following are the top points scorers in the Super League during the 1996 season. Statistics are for league matches only.
|Bobbie Goulding||St. Helens||5||117||3||257|
|John Schuster||Halifax Blue Sox||8||101||2||236|
|Frano Botica||Castleford Tigers||5||84||2||190|
|Mark Aston||Sheffield Eagles||2||86||1||181|
|Greg Barwick||London Broncos||16||50||2||166|
|Steve McNamara||Bradford Bulls||1||78||2||162|
|Francis Maloney||Oldham Bears||6||45||0||114|
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