The image is from Wikipedia Commons
|Current season, competition or edition:
Super League XXVI
|No. of teams||12|
| St Helens
|Most titles|| Leeds Rhinos
|TV partner(s)||Sky Sport
|Level on pyramid||1|
|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.
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.
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 and an £87 million payment 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:
- Castleford, Wakefield Trinity and Featherstone Rovers would form Calder
- Hull F.C. and Hull Kingston Rovers would form Humberside
- Salford and Oldham were to form Manchester
- Sheffield Eagles and Doncaster were to form South Yorkshire
- Warrington and Widnes were to form Cheshire
- Whitehaven, Workington Town, Barrow and Carlisle would form Cumbria
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.
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. 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.
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.
Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competition and three-yearly reviews of Super League membership took place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.
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.
First licensing period
In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that the Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009, and on 22 July 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licences. 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.
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, but despite this only Barrow, Halifax and Widnes decided to submit an application. 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.
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. Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the club's finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League. 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." Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal.
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.
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:
- The top 8 Super League clubs continued to compete in the Super 8s. After playing each other once (either home or away), the top 4 clubs progressed to the semi-finals to determine who competed in the Grand Final to be crowned champions.
- The remaining (bottom 4) Super League clubs and the top 4 Championship clubs competed in The Qualifiers. They played each other once (either home or away) to determine which four of the clubs would compete in Super League the following year.
Funding for clubs was tiered in both leagues to prevent relegation-related financial difficulties.
In 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. 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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
For 2021 Super League XXVI will use the same six team format used in 2020; 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.
The Grand Final is the championship-deciding game and showpiece event of the Super League season. It is held annually at Old Trafford.
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.
|Super League clubs|
||Castleford Tigersa||1926||Castleford, West Yorkshire||Wheldon Road||11,775||0 (N/A)|
||Catalans Dragons||2000||Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales||Gilbert Brutus Stadium||13,000||0 (N/A)|
||Huddersfield Giantsc||1864||Huddersfield, West Yorkshire||Kirklees Stadium||24,500||7 (1962)|
||Hull F.C.c||1865||Hull, East Yorkshire||KCOM Stadium||25,400||6 (1983)|
||Hull Kingston Rovers||1882||Hull, East Yorkshire||Craven Park||12,225||5 (1985)|
||Leeds Rhinosabc||1870||Leeds, West Yorkshire||Headingley Stadium||19,700||11 (2017)|
||Leigh Centurions||1878||Leigh, Greater Manchester||Leigh Sports Village||12,000||2 (1982)|
||Salford Red Devils||1873||Salford, Greater Manchester||Salford City Stadium||12,000||6 (1976)|
||St Helensabc||1873||St Helens, Merseyside||Totally Wicked Stadium||18,000||15 (2020)|
||Wakefield Trinityc||1873||Wakefield, West Yorkshire||Belle Vue||9,333||2 (1968)|
||Warrington Wolvesab||1876||Warrington, Cheshire||Halliwell Jones Stadium||15,200||3 (1955)|
||Wigan Warriorsabc||1872||Wigan, Greater Manchester||DW Stadium||25,133||22 (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
- **includes First Division titles won prior to the inaugural Super League season in 1996, which are officially considered to be part of the Super League lineage
Former Super League clubs
|Former Super League clubs|
|First season in
|Last season in
||Celtic Crusaders §[a]||3||2009||2011||N/A|
||Paris Saint-Germain §||2||1996||1997||N/A|
||Gateshead Thunder §||1||1999||1999||N/A|
- § Denotes club now defunct
All Time Super League table
- Correct up to end of 2020 season
- Table only includes league results and does not include games in playoffs or The Qualifiers
|Current Super League team|
|18||Crusaders § [a]||3||81||21||0||60||−1032||38|
|23||Toronto||1||Withdrew after 7 rounds|
|2001||Wakefield Trinity||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|2003||Halifax||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|Hull F.C.||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|St. Helens||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|2006||Bradford Bulls||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|Wigan Warriors||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|2007||Bradford Bulls||2||Salary Cap Breach|
|Wigan Warriors||4||Salary Cap Breach|
|2013||Salford Red Devils||2||Fielding Extra Man|
|2016||Salford Red Devils||6||Salary Cap Breach|
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 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.
- 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.
In 2017 the following teams will run in each of the Senior Academy divisions: Super League Academy – U19s:
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.
|1||St. Helens||8||5||1996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2014, 2019, 2020|
|Leeds Rhinos||8||2||2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2017|
|2||Wigan Warriors||5||6||1998, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2018|
|3||Bradford Bulls||4||3||1997, 2001, 2003, 2005|
|5||Salford Red Devils||0||1||N/A|
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.
|1||Wigan Warriors||7||1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93,
1993–94, 1994–95, 2013
|2||St. Helens||3||1965–66, 1996, 2006|
|3||Huddersfield Giants||2||1912–13, 1914–15|
|6||Hunslet F.C. §||1||1907–08|
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.
||3||1991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95|
|1997|| Oldham Bears
Paris Saint Germain folded at end of season
|1998|| Gateshead Thunder merged with Hull Sharks
Sheffield Eagles and Huddersfield Giants merged to form Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants
|1999–2000: No relegation|
|2002||Salford City Reds|
|2005|| Widnes Vikings
|2006||Castleford Tigers |
|2007||Salford City Reds|
|2008–2010: No relegation|
|2011||Crusaders RL |
|2012–2013: No relegation|
|2014|| London Broncos
|2016||Hull Kingston Rovers|
|2020||Toronto Wolfpack |
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.
|1||St. Helens||9||1996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014, 2018, 2019|
|2||Wigan Warriors||5||1998, 2000, 2010, 2012, 2020|
|3||Bradford Bulls||4||1997, 1999, 2001, 2003|
|4||Leeds Rhinos||3||2004, 2009, 2015|
|5||Warrington Wolves||2||2011, 2016|
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:
|1||Bevan French||Wigan Warriors||1|
|2||Krisnan Inu||Salford Red Devils||1|
|3||Toby King||Warrington Wolves||1|
|4||Konrad Hurrell||Leeds Rhinos||2|
|5||Ash Handley||Leeds Rhinos||2|
|6||Jonny Lomax||St. Helens||2|
|7||Aidan Sezer||Huddersfield Giants||1|
|8||Mike Cooper||Warrington Wolves||1|
|9||Paul McShane||Castleford Tigers||1|
|10||Alex Walmsley||St. Helens||2|
|11||Kelepi Tanginoa||Wakefield Trinity||1|
|12||Liam Farrell||Wigan Warriors||3|
|13||Morgan Knowles||St. Helens||2|
|Nat.||Name||Club||Appointed||Time as head coach|
|Daryl Powell||Castleford Tigers||7 May 2013||8 years, 10 days|
|Steve McNamara||Catalans Dragons||19 June 2017||3 years, 332 days|
|Ian Watson||Huddersfield Giants||19 November 2020||179 days|
|Brett Hodgson||Hull F.C.||25 November 2020||173 days|
|Tony Smith||Hull Kingston Rovers||6 June 2019||1 year, 345 days|
|Richard Agar||Leeds Rhinos||7 May 2019||2 years, 10 days|
|John Duffy||Leigh Centurions||22 November 2018||2 years, 176 days|
|Richard Marshall||Salford Red Devils||1 December 2020||167 days|
|Kristian Woolf||St. Helens||13 October 2019||1 year, 216 days|
|Chris Chester||Wakefield Trinity||16 March 2016||5 years, 62 days|
|Steve Price||Warrington Wolves||6 October 2017||3 years, 223 days|
|Adrian Lam||Wigan Warriors||14 October 2018||2 years, 215 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 Coach||Wins||Winning years|
|1||Brian McDermott||4||2011, 2012, 2015, 2017|
|2||Brian Noble||3||2001, 2003, 2005|
|3||Shaun Wane||3||2013, 2016, 2018|
|4||Ian Millward||2||2000, 2002|
|5||Tony Smith||2||2004, 2007|
|6||Brian McClennan||2||2008, 2009|
Coaches to have coached at least 200 Super League games
- Bold indicates coach still at club
- Italic indicates coach still active as a head coach in Rugby League but not in Super League at this time
Statistics correct as of 2 May 2021
|1||Tony Smith||Huddersfield (2001, 2003)
Hull KR (2019–present)
|2||Brian McDermott||London (2007–2010)
|3||Brian Noble||Bradford (2001–2006)
|4||Shaun McRae||St. Helens (1996–1998)
Salford (2007, 2009–2011)
|5||Daryl Powell||Leeds (2001–2003)
|6||John Kear||Sheffield (1997–1999),
|7||Ian Millward||St. Helens (2000–2005)
|8||Steve McNamara||Bradford (2006–2010),
|9||Shaun Wane||Wigan (2012–2018)||208|
- Statistics are correct as of 2 May 2021.
Players to have made over 350 Super League Appearances
- Note that appearances from the bench are also included in this list. Excluding appearances in Qualifiers
- Bold indicates players still active in Super League
- Italics indicates players still active but not in Super League
|1||Danny McGuire||2001–2019||Leeds, Hull KR||247|
|Leeds, Hull KR||202|
|3=||Paul Wellens||1998–2015||St. Helens||199|
|3=||Keith Senior||1996–2011||Sheffield, Leeds||199|
|5||Ryan Atkins||2005–2020||Bradford, Wakefield x2,
|Hull FC, Castleford,
Wakefield x2, Huddersfield
|3||Paul Deacon||1997–2011||Oldham, Bradford, Wigan||2,415|
|5||Pat Richards||2006–2013, 2016||Wigan, Catalans||2,280|
11 players have captained teams to win the Super League.
|1||Kevin Sinfield||7||2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015|
|2||Sean O'Loughlin||4||2010, 2013, 2016, 2018|
|3||Chris Joynt||3||1999, 2000, 2002|
|4||Robbie Paul||3||1997, 2001, 2003|
|5||James Roby||2||2019, 2020|
Top Try Scorer by season
Top Points Scorer by season
|1996||Bobbie Goulding||257||St. Helens|
|1997||Andy Farrell||243||Wigan Warriors|
|1998||Iestyn Harris||333||Leeds Rhinos|
|1999||Iestyn Harris||325||Leeds Rhinos|
|2000||Sean Long||352||St. Helens|
|2001||Andy Farrell||388||Wigan Warriors|
|2002||Paul Deacon||301||Bradford Bulls|
|2003||Paul Deacon||286||Bradford Bulls|
|2004||Kevin Sinfield||277||Leeds Rhinos|
|2005||Paul Deacon||322||Bradford Bulls|
|2006||Jamie Lyon||316||St. Helens|
|2007||Pat Richards||248||Wigan Warriors|
|2008||Pat Richards||269||Wigan Warriors|
|2009||Pat Richards||252||Wigan Warriors|
|2010||Pat Richards||388||Wigan Warriors|
|2011||Jamie Foster||330||St. Helens|
|2012||Scott Dureau||281||Catalans Dragons|
|2013||Danny Brough||208||Huddersfield Giants|
|2014||Marc Sneyd||224||Castleford Tigers|
|2015||Luke Gale||247||Castleford Tigers|
|2016||Luke Gale||262||Castleford Tigers|
|2017||Luke Gale||317||Castleford Tigers|
|2018||Danny Richardson||296||St. Helens|
|2019||Lachlan Coote||259||St. Helens|
|2020||Lachlan Coote||174||St. Helens|
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.
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.
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:
|1996–1997||Stones Bitter||Stones Super League|
|1998–1999||JJB Sports||JJB Super League|
|2000–2004||Tetley's Bitter||Tetley's Super League|
|2005–2011||Engage Mutual Assurance||Engage Super League|
|2012||Stobart Group||Stobart Super League|
|2013||no sponsor||Super League|
|2014–2016||First Utility||First Utility Super League|
|2017–2021||Betfred||Betfred Super League|
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. 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. 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.
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.
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:
- The combined earnings of the top 25 players must not exceed £1.825 million.
- Clubs will only be allowed to sign a new player if they have room under the cap.
- Clubs are allowed to spend a maximum of £50,000 on players outside the top 25 earners who have made at least one first grade appearance for the club during the year.
- Costs for players outside of the top 25 earners who do not make a first team appearance will be unregulated.
- Any player who has played for the same club for at least 10 consecutive seasons will have half their salary excluded from the salary cap for his 11th and subsequent seasons. This is subject to a maximum of £50,000 for any one club.
- Clubs are allowed one "Marquee Player" who can exceed a club's salary cap as long as they can afford the players wages.
In 2017, Super League clubs approved proposals to increase the salary cap over the next three seasons, eventually rising to £2.1 million by 2020. Clubs will also be allowed to sign a second marquee player.
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.
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.
Big Four dominance
- Number denotes league position
Grand Final Champions Grand Final Runners-up
|Season||Bradford Bulls||Leeds Rhinos||St. Helens||Wigan Warriors|
|Season||Leeds Rhinos||St. Helens||Wigan Warriors||Warrington Wolves|
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Detailed Sky coverage
- Super League Thursday starts at 7:30 pm and consists of a preview of the weekends Super League fixtures before the first game of the weekend.
- Super League Friday includes one game with coverage starting at 7:30 pm building up to the game.
- Super League Saturday usually shows Catalans Dragons games kicking off at 5:00 pm with coverage starting from 4:55 pm. When the Super 8s begin other teams are shown with coverage starting at 2:30 pm for games kicking off at 5:00 pm.
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. 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.
Internationally, Super League is shown live by eight broadcasters in eight countries and regions.
|Middle East||OSN (no longer available)|
|Sport en France|
|New Zealand||Sky Sport|
|United States||Fox Soccer Plus|
|Brazil||BandSports (no longer available)|
|Russia||NTV+ (no longer available)|
|Balkans||Sportklub (no longer available)|
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. 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:
|BBC Radio Humberside||Hull|
|BBC Radio Leeds||West Yorkshire|
|BBC Radio Manchester||Salford, Wigan and Warrington.|
|BBC Radio Merseyside||St Helens, Warrington and Widnes.|
The competition is also covered on commercial radio stations:
- Radio Yorkshire cover two matches per round featuring Yorkshire clubs.
- BCB 106.6 (Bradford Community Broadcasting) have full match commentary on Bradford home and away.
- Wish FM have full match commentary on Wigan and St Helens matches home and away.
- Wire FM have full match commentary of Warrington matches home and away.
- Grand Sud FM covers every Catalans Dragons Home Match (in French).
- Radio France Bleu Roussillon covers every Catalans Dragons Away Match (in French).
All Super League commentaries on any station are available via the particular stations on-line streaming.
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. 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.
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