Super League

For other uses, see Super League (disambiguation).
Super League
Country  England
Other club(s) from  France
Founded 1996
Number of teams 12
Level on pyramid 1
Relegation to Championship
Domestic cup(s) Challenge Cup
International cup(s) World Club Series
World Club Challenge
Current champions
Wigan Warriors (4th title)
Most championships
Leeds Rhinos (7 titles)
TV partners Sky Sports (live matches)
BBC (highlights)
Super League XXII

Super League (known officially as the Betfred Super League due to sponsorship by Betfred) is the top-level professional rugby league club competition in Europe. The league has twelve teams: eleven from England and one from France. The current champions are Wigan Warriors.

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

Leeds Rhinos are the most successful club in the Super League era, having won 7 titles. However, Wigan Warriors are the most successful club overall, having won 21 British Championships.

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


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 Super League. A large sum of money aided the decision, and the competition got under way in 1996. Part of the deal saw rugby league switch from a winter to a summer season. The 12 founding teams of Super League were:

Initially, several mergers between existing clubs were proposed:

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

However this proved so unpopular that only existing clubs were selected for the competition. The clubs finishing below 10th in the existing top flight were excluded, which meant Featherstone Rovers, Hull, Wakefield Trinity and Widnes were left out, as were pioneering club Keighley who had just won the Second Division Championship. London Broncos, who had come fourth in the Second Division, were "fast-tracked" in on commercial grounds. A new team, Paris Saint-Germain, was created to give a French dimension. Between 1998 and 2000 there was no relegation from Super League.

2002–2008: Promotion and relegation

After two years Paris were dropped from the competition. Promotion and relegation between Super League and the Rugby League National Leagues was re-introduced, and in 2002 the Super League Europe (SLE) governing body re-integrated fully into the Rugby Football League (RFL). In 2006, French side Catalans Dragons (also known as UTC or Les Catalans) from Perpignan joined the league, becoming the second non-English team to compete. To facilitate this move, two clubs were relegated from Super League at the end of the 2005 season: Leigh who finished bottom of the league were replaced by the one club coming up from the National Leagues and Widnes who finished 11th (and would have stayed up any other year) were dropped for Les Catalans, thus the number of clubs in Super League remained at 12.

2009–2014: Licensing

Super League licences were announced in May 2005 by the RFL as the new determinant of the Super League competition's participants from 2009 in place of promotion and relegation. The licences were awarded after consideration of more factors than just the on-the-field performance of a club.[1] 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.[1]

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.[2]

Successful applicants were licensed for three years of Super League competition and[3] three-yearly reviews of Super League membership took place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful.[2]

Points attained by each club's application are translated into licence grades A, B or C. Clubs who achieved an A or B Licence would be automatically awarded a place in Super League, while those who achieved a C Licence underwent further scrutiny before the RFL decided who made the final cut.[4]

First licensing period

In June 2008, the RFL confirmed that Super League would be expanded from 12 teams to 14 in 2009,[5][6] and on 22 July 2008 the RFL confirmed the teams awarded licences.[7] 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.[8]

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

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.[12] Crusaders CEO Rod Findlay stated that the club's finances were not in a good enough condition to justify their place in Super League.[13] 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."[13] Wakefield had been favourites to lose their licence before Crusaders' withdrawal.[13]

2015–Present: Super 8s

Main article: Rugby League Super 8s

At the 2013 Annual General Meeting at Bradford, the Super League clubs agreed to reduce the number of clubs to 12 from 2015, and also for a return of Promotion and Relegation with a 12 club Championship.[14]

The 12 First Utility Super League and 12 Kingstone Press Championship clubs will play each other home and away over 22 "rounds", including a Magic Weekend for both divisions. Following the conclusion of their regular league seasons, the 24 clubs will then compete in a play-off series where they split into 3 leagues of 8 based upon league position:[15][16]

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

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


Current clubs

Super League clubs
Colours Club Established City Stadium Capacity* Titles (Last)**
Castleford Tigersa 1925 Castleford, West Yorkshire Wheldon Road 12,000 0 (N/A)
Catalans Dragons 2000 Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orient Gilbert Brutus Stadium 13,000 0 (N/A)
Huddersfield Giantsc 1864 Huddersfield, West Yorkshire Kirklees Stadium 24,500 7 (1962)
Hull FCc 1865 Hull, East Yorkshire KCOM Stadium 25,404 6 (1983)
Leeds Rhinosabc 1864 Leeds, West Yorkshire Headingley Stadium 20,500 10 (2015)
Leigh Centurionsc 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 13 (2014)
Wakefield Trinityc 1873 Wakefield, West Yorkshire Belle Vue 12,600 2 (1968)
Warrington Wolvesab 1876 Warrington, Cheshire Halliwell Jones Stadium 15,500 3 (1955)
Widnes Vikingsc 1875 Widnes, Cheshire Halton Stadium 13,500 3 (1989)
Wigan Warriorsabc 1872 Wigan, Lancashire DW Stadium 24,057 21 (2016)

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

Former Super League Clubs

Previous Super League clubs
Colours Club Established City Stadium Capacity* Seasons
Bradford Bulls 1907 Bradford, West Yorkshire Odsal 27,491 19
London Broncos 1980 Ealing, London Trailfinders Sports Ground 3,020 19
Hull Kingston Rovers 1882 Hull, East Yorkshire Craven Park 12,000 10
Halifax 1873 Halifax, West Yorkshire The Shay 14,000 8
Sheffield Eagles 1984 Sheffield, South Yorkshire Bawtry Road 3,000 4
Crusaders RL 2005 Wrexham, Wales Racecourse Ground 15,500 3
Oldham Roughyeds 1876 Oldham, Greater Manchester Bower Fold 6,500 2
Paris Saint-Germain 1995 Paris, France Stade Sébastien Charléty 20,000 2
Newcastle Thunder 1999 Newcastle, Tyne and Wear Kingston Park 10,000 1
Workington Town 1945 Workington, Cumbria Derwent Park 10,000 1

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

Non-English Teams

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

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

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

All Time Super League table

Rank Name Seasons Playoffs Games Win Draw Loss For Agn Diff Pts
1 St Helens* 21 19 569 400 14 155 17,696 11,277 6,419 812
2 Wigan* 21 17 569 384 21 164 16,657 10,260 6,397 783
3 Leeds 21 18 562 363 15 184 16,276 11,561 4,715 741
4 Bradford* 19 11 509 308 17 184 14620 11253 3367 617
5 Warrington 21 10 569 302 10 257 15,057 13,621 1,436 614
6 Hull FC* 19 11 525 259 20 246 12,277 11,876 401 536
7 Castleford 20 5 514 212 19 276 11,612 13,518 −1,906 443
8 Huddersfield 18 8 490 213 10 267 11,386 11,989 603 436
9 London 19 2 509 185 20 304 10793 14229 −3436 390
10 Wakefield* 18 3 494 173 6 610 10,128 13,380 −3,252 346
11 Salford* 18 1 478 152 8 318 8,691 13,162 −4,471 304
12 Catalans 11 6 304 141 9 154 7,202 7,605 −403 291
13 Hull KR 10 4 262 114 9 138 5,579 6,040 −461 237
14 Widnes 9 1 246 89 7 149 4,709 6,592 −1,883 185
15 Halifax* 8 1 209 76 4 129 4646 5908 −1262 154
16 Sheffield 4 0 97 37 3 57 2027 2663 −636 77
17 Newcastle 1 0 30 19 1 10 775 576 199 39
18 Crusaders* 3 1 81 21 0 60 1431 2463 −1032 38
19 Oldham 2 0 44 13 2 29 934 1312 −378 28
20 Paris 2 0 44 9 1 34 760 1367 −607 5
21 Workington 1 0 22 2 1 19 325 1021 −696 5
22 Leigh 1 0 28 2 1 25 445 1210 −765 5

Point deductions

Teams relegated

Year Club
1996 Workington Town
1997 Oldham Bears
1998–2000 no relegation
2001 Huddersfield Giants
2002 Salford City Reds
2003 Halifax
2004 Castleford Tigers
2005 Widnes Vikings
Leigh Centurions
2006 Castleford Tigers
2007 Salford City Reds
2008–2013 no relegation
2014 London Broncos
Bradford Bulls
2015 None
2016 Hull KR


Further information: English rugby league venues


Good Friday Derby

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

Cheshire Derby

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

Calder Derby

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


Nat. Name Club Appointed Time as head coach
England Wenger, ArseneDaryl Powell Castleford Tigers 7 May 2013 3 years, 214 days
France Frayssinous, LaurentLaurent Frayssinous Catalan Dragons 3 September 2012 4 years, 95 days
Australia Stone, RickRick Stone Huddersfield Giants 11 July 2016 149 days
England Radford, LeeLee Radford Hull F.C. 25 September 2013 3 years, 73 days
Australia Webster, JamesJames Webster
Hull KR 4 March 2016 278 days
England McDermott, BrianBrian McDermott Leeds Rhinos 25 October 2010 6 years, 43 days
Wales Ian Watson Salford Red Devils 3 September 2015 1 year, 95 days
England Cunningham, KeironKeiron Cunningham St Helens 20 October 2014 2 years, 48 days
England Chester, ChrisChris Chester Wakefield Trinity 16 March 2016 266 days
Australia Smith, TonyTony Smith Warrington Wolves 5 March 2009 7 years, 277 days
England Betts, DenisDenis Betts Widnes Vikings 11 November 2010 6 years, 26 days
England Wane, ShaunShaun Wane Wigan Warriors 9 October 2011 5 years, 59 days

Head Coaches with Super League titles

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

Head Coach Wins Winning years
1England Brian Noble3 2001, 2003, 2005
2England Brian McDermott3 2011, 2012, 2015
3England Shaun Wane2 2013, 2016
4Australia Matthew Elliott2 1997, 1999
5Australia Ian Millward2 2000, 2002
6Australia Tony Smith2 2004, 2007
7New Zealand Brian McClennan2 2008, 2009
8Australia Shaun McRae 1 1996
9Australia John Monie1 1998
10Australia Daniel Anderson1 2006
11Australia Michael McGuire1 2010
12Australia Nathan Brown1 2014



1 England Kevin Sinfield 1997–2015 521
2 England Paul Wellens 1998–2015 496
3 England Jamie Peacock 1998–2015 475
4 England Lee Gilmour 1997–2014 460
5 England Keith Senior 1994– 2011 419
6 Wales Lee Briers 1997–2013 402
7 England Paul Deacon 1997–2011 384
8 England Danny McGuire 2001–present 364
9 England Gareth Carvell 1997–2014 328
10 England Adrian Morley 1995–2015 316
11 New Zealand Robbie Hunter-Paul 1996–2009 308
12 England Ade Gardner 2002–2014 304
13 England Gareth Carvell 1997–2015 293
14 Samoa Harrison Hansen 2004–2015 286
15= Scotland Danny Brough 2005–present 275
New Zealand Ali Lauitiiti 2004–2015 275
16 Ireland Stuart Littler 1998–2010 269


1 England Danny McGuire 2001–present 236
2 England Keith Senior 1994–2011 210
3 England Paul Wellens 1998–2015 199
4 England Ryan Hall 2007–present 165
5 England Ade Gardner 2002–2014 152


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

Winning captains

9 players have captained teams to win the Super League.

Head Coach Wins Winning years
1England Kevin Sinfield7 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2England Chris Joynt3 1999, 2000, 2002
3England Sean O'Loughlin3 2010, 2013, 2016
4New Zealand Robbie Paul3 1997, 2001, 2003
5England Bobbie Goulding1 1996
6England Andy Farrell1 1998
7England Jamie Peacock1 2005
8England Sean Long1 2006
9England Paul Wellens1 2014


World Club Series

Main article: World Club Series

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

Regular Super League season

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

Magic Weekend

Main article: Magic Weekend

In an attempt to expand out of the traditional rugby league "heartlands", and market the game to a wider audience, the RFL has staged games in large stadia, in places without a strong rugby league presence. The "Magic Weekend" concept, which involves staging an entire round of Super League in such a stadium, was first staged in Cardiff in 2007. Dubbed "Millennium Magic", and played in the Millennium Stadium, the concept was held in Cardiff again in 2008. In 2009 and 2010, the event was held in Edinburgh at the Scottish national rugby union stadium, giving rise to the name changing to "Murrayfield Magic". Generally held during the May Day weekend, 2011 saw the Magic Weekend return to Cardiff, and was held during the weekend 12–13 February, and serving as the season opener. It has since returned to its traditional mid-season slot and is currently held at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester.

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
St James' ParkNewcastleEngland40,87130,000

Challenge Cup

Main article: Challenge Cup

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

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance

Super 8s

Main article: Rugby League Super 8s

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

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

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

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


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

The current Super League Play-off structure:[17][18]

Semifinals Finals
1 1st
4 4th
Winner of Semi Final 1
Winner of Semi Final 2
2 2nd
3 3rd

Grand Final

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
Old TraffordTrafford, Greater ManchesterEngland73,58163,352


League Leader's Shield

Main article: League Leaders Shield

The League Leader's Shield is awarded to the team finishing the regular season top of Super League; this is also known as a minor premiership. The League Leader's Shield was introduced only in 2003, previously no prize was awarded to the team finishing top following the introduction of the Grand Final.

Club Wins Winning years
1 St Helens7 1996, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2014
2 Wigan Warriors4 1998, 2000, 2010, 2012
3 Bradford Bulls4 1997, 1999, 2001, 2003
4 Leeds Rhinos3 2004, 2009, 2015
5 Warrington Wolves2 2011, 2016
6 Huddersfield Giants1 2013

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 captain are engraved.

The record for most Super League titles won is held by Leeds with seven titles. Leeds captain Kevin Sinfield currently holds the record for captaining the most Super League title winning sides after captaining Leeds to all 7 of their grand final successes. St Helens contested the final 6 years in a row (from 2006 until 2011) during which time they succeeded only once in lifting the trophy against Hull in 2006; after which they suffered consecutive defeats against Leeds in 2007, 2008, 2009, Wigan in 2010 and Leeds once again in 2011. However, St Helens made a victorious return in 2014, defeating rivals, Wigan 14–6.

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

Steve Prescott Man of Steel Award

Main article: Man of Steel Award

The Man of Steel Award is an annual award for the best player of the season in Super League. It has continued from pre-Super League times, with the first such award given in 1977. It was renamed in honour of Steve Prescott in 2014.

Albert Goldthorpe Medal

The Albert Goldthorpe Medal is a 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.

Player Team Appearance
1 England Jamie Shaul Hull F.C. 1
2 New Zealand Denny Solomona Castleford Tigers 1
3 England Ryan Atkins Warrington Wolves 2
4 Tonga Mahe Fonua Hull F.C. 1
5 England Dominic Manfredi Wigan Warriors 1
6 Australia Kurt Gidley Warrington Wolves 1
7 England Luke Gale Castleford Tigers 2
8 England Chris Hill Warrington Wolves 3
9 England Danny Houghton Hull F.C. 1
10 England Scott Taylor Hull F.C. 1
11 England Ben Currie Warrington Wolves 1
12 Italy Mark Minichiello Hull F.C. 1
13 England Gareth Ellis Hull F.C. 5


See Rugby Football League Championship for the all-time list of champions since 1895.

The league format changed in 1998 and the championship became a play-off series to determine the Super League champions. This meant a reintroduction of a final to determine the European champions, the first since the 1972–73 season.

Season Champions Score Runners-up League Leaders
1996 St Helens
Wigan Warriors St Helens
1997 Bradford Bulls
London Broncos Bradford Bulls
1998 Wigan Warriors 10–4 Leeds Rhinos Wigan Warriors
1999 St Helens 8–6 Bradford Bulls Bradford Bulls
2000 St Helens 29–16 Wigan Warriors Wigan Warriors
2001 Bradford Bulls 37–6 Wigan Warriors Bradford Bulls
2002 St Helens 19–18 Bradford Bulls St Helens
2003 Bradford Bulls 25–12 Wigan Warriors Bradford Bulls
2004 Leeds Rhinos 16–8 Bradford Bulls Leeds Rhinos
2005 Bradford Bulls 15–6 Leeds Rhinos St Helens
2006 St Helens 26–4 Hull St Helens
2007 Leeds Rhinos 33–6 St Helens St Helens
2008 Leeds Rhinos 24–16 St Helens St Helens
2009 Leeds Rhinos 18–10 St Helens Leeds Rhinos
2010 Wigan Warriors 22–10 St Helens Wigan Warriors
2011 Leeds Rhinos 32–16 St Helens Warrington Wolves
2012 Leeds Rhinos 26–18 Warrington Wolves Wigan Warriors
2013 Wigan Warriors 30–16 Warrington Wolves Huddersfield Giants
2014 St Helens 14–6 Wigan Warriors St Helens
2015 Leeds Rhinos 22–20 Wigan Warriors Leeds Rhinos
2016 Wigan Warriors 12-6 Warrington Wolves Warrington Wolves
2017 TBD - TBD TBD


Club Wins Runners
Winning Years
1 Leeds Rhinos72 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2015
2 St Helens651996, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2006, 2014
3 Wigan Warriors46 1998, 2010, 2013, 2016
4 Bradford Bulls43 1997, 2001, 2003, 2005
5 Warrington Wolves03N/A
6 Hull F.C.01N/A
7 London Broncos01N/A

The Double

In rugby league, the term 'the Double' is referring to the achievement of a club that wins the top division and Challenge Cup in the same season. To date, this has been achieved by a total ten different clubs but by only four different clubs during the Super League era.

Club Wins Winning years
1 Wigan Warriors7 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93,
1993–94, 1994–95, 2013
2 St Helens3 1965–66, 1996, 2006
3 Huddersfield Giants2 1912–13, 1914–15
4 Broughton Rangers1 1901–02
5 Halifax1 1902–03
6 Hunslet Hawks1 1907–08
7 Swinton Lions1 1927–28
8 Warrington Wolves1 1953–54
9 Bradford Bulls1 2003
10 Leeds Rhinos1 2015

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 RFC and Leeds Rhinos have won the treble in the Super League era.

Club Wins Winning years
Wigan Warriors
31991–92, 1992–93, 1994–95
Huddersfield Giants
21912–13, 1914–15
St Helens RFC
21965–66, 2006
Hunslet Hawks
Swinton Lions
1 1927–28
Bradford Bulls
1 2003
Leeds Rhinos
1 2015

All Four Cups

Main article: All Four Cups

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

Club Wins Winning years
Hunslet Hawks
Huddersfield Giants
Swinton Lions
Wigan Warriors
Bradford Bulls
St Helens


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 different title sponsors since the league's formation:

Period Sponsor Name
1996–1997 Stones Bitter Stones Super League
1998–1999 JJB Sports JJB Super League
2000–2004 Tetley's Bitter Tetley's Super League
2005–2011 Engage Mutual Assurance Engage Super League
2012 Stobart Group Stobart Super League
2013 no sponsor Super League
2014–2016 First Utility First Utility Super League
2017-2019 Betfred Betfred Super League

As well as title sponsorship, Super League has a number of official partners and suppliers.[19] For the 2017 season these include Kingstone Press Cider, Dacia, Foxy Bingo, Batchelors and Specsavers. The official ball supplier is Rhino Rugby.[20]

Competition rules

Club trained players

The 'club trained player' rule stipulates that each club must have a minimum number of players who are aged under 21 years or are graduates from their own academy system in their 25-man first team squad. Clubs are also required to have a minimum number of UK-trained players (or in the case of the Catalans Dragons, France-trained players) in their squads, and also are limited to a maximum number of "overseas" trained players.

The table below shows how the figures for the ruling from 2008 to 2011.[21]

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

Salary cap

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:[21]

Squad announcement system

Before each Super League and Tetley's Challenge Cup fixture, each club must announce the squad of 19 players it will choose from by 2.00pm on the second day before the match day.[21]


Big Four Dominance

Results of the 'Big Four'
Season Bradford Bulls Leeds Rhinos St Helens Wigan Warriors
1996 3 10 Champions Runners up
1997 Champions 5 3 4
1998 5 Runners up 4 Champions
1999 Runners up 3 Champions 4
2000 3 4 Champions Runners up
2001 Champions 5 4 Runners up
2002 Runners up 4 Champions 3
2003 Champions 2 4 Runners up
2004 Runners up Champions 5 4
2005 Champions Runners up 1 7
2006 4 3 Champions 8
2007 3 Champions Runners up 6
2008 5 Champions Runners up 4
2009 9 Champions Runners up 6
2010 10 4 Runners up Champions
2011 10 Champions Runners up 2
2012 9 Champions 3 1
2013 9 3 5 Champions
2014 13 (Relegated) 6 Champions Runners up
2015 - Champions 4 Runners up
2016 - 9 4 Champions
Titles 4 7 6 4

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

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


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

Attendances in the lower divisions dropped as a result of this system because it was felt that there was little appeal in these leagues when there was no incentive for the clubs to win the Championship. Also the only time that lower division clubs got the chance to play Super League opposition was in the early rounds of the challenge cup. With no route to the Super League however, teams were unable to compete with top division opposition because there was no way that clubs could attract top talent when players would not be playing in top-level rugby league.

M62 Corridor

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

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

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

Match officials

Main article: RFL Match officials

All Super League matches are governed by the laws set out by the RFL; these laws are enforced by match officials. Former Super League and International Referee Steve Ganson is the current Acting Head of the Match Officials Department and Technical Director. Former Hull player and Huddersfield Head Coach Jon Sharp was the previous Head of the Match Officials Department of the RFL. Sharp was sacked in July 2015 and took up the role of Head Coach at Featherstone Rovers. He assumed his role at the RFL following Stuart Cummings' departure in March 2013 having previously held the role of Match Officials Coach & Technical Director.


Reserve League

In 2014 and 2015 Super League clubs were unhappy with the Dual registration system and wanted to form a Under 23 reserve leagues between the Under 19s and 1st team. Wigan, Warrington and St Helens were the first teams to propose the return of the reserve league where players could move from the under 19s and play with professional players before playing in the 1st team. A reserve league was set up in 2016 with a mixture of Super League, Championship and League 1 teams.

Dual registration

Clubs in both the First Utility Super League and the Kingstone Press Championships benefit from the new dual registration system which was introduced for the 2013 season.[22] The new system is intended to complement the existing player loan system.

Dual registration refers to an arrangement between clubs whereby a player continues to be registered to his current First Utility Super League club and is also registered to play for a club in the Kingstone Press Championship. The system is aimed at young Super League players who are thought to be not quite ready to make the step up to 'week in, week out' Super League first team duties but for whom first team match experience is likely to be beneficial for their development.

Under 19s

In 2014 the following teams will run in each of the Senior Academy divisions:[23]

Super League Academy – U19s:


  • The Academy U19s competition is primarily for Super League clubs. Catalans Dragons does not currently have a teams in the league as they run their lower grade sides in the French league; however they will be joining the competition from 2015.
  • The Academy U19s competition has a 6 team play-off with a Grand Final at the end of the play-off series.
  • The Championships U20s have a 3 team play-off with a Grand Final at the end of the play-off series.
  • Many Super League, Championship and Championship 1 sides also have Academy U16 teams. They compete in a small number of games throughout the season and all such games are seen as friendly matches.

Media coverage


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 7:30pm (kick off 8pm) and another at 7:30pm on Friday nights (kick off 8pm). From 2014, they also simulcast all of Catalans Dragons' home games and from 2015, will broadcast regular Kingstone Press Championship matches.

Duration Broadcaster
1996–2021 Sky Sports

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 7:30pm building up to the game.
  • Super League Saturday usually shows Catalans Dragons games kicking off at 5:00pm with coverage starting from 4:55pm. When the Super 8s begging other teams are shown with coverage starting at 2:30pm for games kicking off at 5:00pm.


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 11pm) and is repeated nationally on BBC 2 on Tuesday afternoons.[24] 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 programme Duration Broadcaster
Super League Show 1999–Present BBC


Regular commentators are Eddie Hemmings and Mike Stephenson with summarisers including Phil Clarke, Brian Carney, Barrie McDermott and Terry O'Connor. Live Super League broadcasts regularly rank amongst the top 10 most watched programmes in a week on Sky Sports with in excess of 250,000 viewers.[25] Sky Sports also run several supplementary magazine shows, including Super League Full Time and Boots N' All.

Premier Sports and Made in Leeds show a rugby league magazine program called Rugby AM hosted by Alex Simmons, Jamie Jones Buchanan and Keith Senior. It is aired on a Thursday night at 7 and is also repeated on Saturday. Rugby AM also has a radio show on All Star FM.


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

Country/ Region Broadcaster
Middle East OSN
North Africa
 France BeIn Sport
 New Zealand Sky Sport
Māori Television
 United States Fox Soccer Plus
 Russia NTV+
Eastern Europe Sportklub
 Australia FOX Sports


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.[26] 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

Super League is also covered extensively by BBC Local Radio:

Station Area
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 amatches 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.[27] Theses 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

See also



  1. 1 2 BBC Sport (19 May 2005). "Super League set for 2009 changes". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  2. 1 2 RFL. "Licensing". The Rugby Football League. Archived from the original on 2 May 2008. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  3. BBC Sport (22 May 2005). "Franchise system 'is way forward'". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  4. Angela Powers. "Licence to thrill". Sky Sports. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  5. Gary Slater (18 June 2008). "Super League to expand to 14". London: Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  6. Sky Sports (17 June 2008). "Super League set to expand". Sky Sports. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  7. BBC Sport (16 July 2008). "Clubs confident over franchises". BBC. Retrieved 18 July 2008.
  8. Ian Laybourn. "Leigh blast for Super League". Sporting Life. Retrieved 18 August 2008.
  9. BBC Sport (8 October 2010). "Five clubs in Super League queue". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  10. BBC Sport (3 December 2010). "Widnes, Halifax and Barrow meet Super League deadline". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  11. "Vikings awarded Super League licence". Super League Official. 31 March 2011. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  12. "Thirteen Super League licences awarded for 2012 to 2014". RFL. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  13. 1 2 3 BBC Sport (26 July 2011). "Crusaders withdraw application for Super League place". BBC. Retrieved 7 August 2011.
  14. Super League to become a 12-team competition from 2015. (11 July 2013). Retrieved on 20 August 2013.
  17. "New top eight play-off format for engage Super League". Super League (Europe). 1 December 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  18. "Super League play-offs overhauled". BBC. 30 November 2008. Retrieved 1 December 2008.
  19. 1 2 3 "Competition Structure". The RFL. Archived from the original on 10 February 2010. Retrieved 2010. Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  23. "Triline Sports". Triline Sports. Retrieved 18 June 2007.
  25. List of Super League games available on


  • Caplan, Phil; Doidge, Jonathan R. (2006). Super League – the first ten years. The History Press Ltd. ISBN 978-0-7524-3698-2. 

External links

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