Super League (Europe)

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The engage Super League logo

Super League (Europe) began in March 1996 and is the only full-time professional rugby league competition operating in the northern hemisphere. Most of the teams are based in Great Britain, though there has been French involvement with Paris Saint German at the birth of the Super League and French club Union Treiziste Catalane, known as Les Catalans Dragons, have joined for the 2006 season. As a result of sponsorship from engage Mutual Assurance the competition is currently officially known as the engage Rugby Super League.

During the league's regular season, each team plays 28 games over 28 rounds from February to September. At the end of the regular season, the top six teams in Super League play in the playoffs, which finishes with the Grand Final.


[edit] Teams

Super League (Europe)
Team Stadium City/Area
Image:Bullscolours.png Bradford Bulls Grattan Stadium, Odsal Bradford
Image:Catalanscolours.png Les Catalans Stade Aime Giral Perpignan, France
Image:Quinscolours.png Harlequins RL Twickenham Stoop Twickenham, London
Image:Giantscolours.png Huddersfield Giants Galpharm Stadium Huddersfield
Image:Hullcolours.png Hull FC KC Stadium Kingston upon Hull
Image:HKRcolours.png Hull Kingston Rovers Craven Park Kingston upon Hull
Image:Rhinoscolours.png Leeds Rhinos Headingley Carnegie Stadium Leeds
Image:Redscolours.png Salford City Reds The Willows Salford
Image:Saintscolours.png St Helens RFC Knowsley Road St Helens
Image:Wcatscolours.png Wakefield Trinity Wildcats Atlantic Solutions Stadium Wakefield
Image:Wolvescolours.png Warrington Wolves Halliwell Jones Stadium Warrington
Image:Wigancolours.png Wigan Warriors JJB Stadium Wigan

[edit] History

The competition was first mooted during the Super League war as a way for Rupert Murdoch to gain the upper hand during the battle for supremacy with the Australian Rugby League. Murdoch approached the British clubs to form Super League (Europe) (SLE). 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.

Initially, several mergers between existing clubs were proposed:

However this proved so unpopular that only existing clubs were selected for the competition. Several clubs currently in the existing top flight were excluded, whilst other from the lower divisions (such as London Broncos now known as Harlequins Rugby League) were “fast-tracked” in on commercial grounds. A new team, Paris Saint Germain, was created to give a French dimension.

After two years Paris were dropped from the competition, thus the 'Europe' in 'Super League (Europe)', became somewhat otiose; it was however retained. Promotion and relegation between Super League and the Rugby League National Leagues was re-introduced, and in 2002 the SLE governing body re-integrated fully into the Rugby Football League. To most intents and purposes, Super League is now simply a re-titled first division of British Rugby League. However, in 2006, French side Les Catalans (also known as UTC or Catalans Dragons) from Perpignan joined the league. In order to facilitate this move, two clubs were relegated from Super League at the end of the 2005 season, with only one club coming up from the National Leagues, thus the number of clubs in Super League remained at 12.

After 2009 there will be no automatic promotion or relegation from Super League and new teams will be admitted on a franchise basis. 3 yearly reviews of franchises will take place to ensure ambitious clubs lower down the leagues can still be successful. However some teams including newly crowned champions Saints, newly promoted Hull KR & Wakefield are not yet guarenteed entry due to ground requirements

[edit] Structure

Currently, 12 teams compete in Super League. They play each other twice on a home-and-away basis. An additional five fixtures are then played, including the Millennium Magic round (prior to 2007,an additional six fixtures were added). After the 27 rounds, a play-off structure is then used to determine the two teams who will meet in the Super League Grand Final to decide the championship. Currently the top six teams enter the play-offs. The structure is designed to reward the teams finishing nearer the top with easier routes to the Grand Final, which is played at Old Trafford. The system works like this:

Week One

Week Two

Week Three

Week Three

In earlier seasons the championship was decided on the basis of the league table alone, with the play-offs leading to a separate Premiership Final. Now a minor prize is given to the team finishing top (the League Leader's Shield); the real prize is to win the Grand Final.

[edit] Results

See Rugby League Championship for full list of championship winners (1895-date).

Year Grand Final winner Runner up League leader
1996 n/a n/a St Helens
1997 n/a n/a Bradford Bulls
1998 Wigan Warriors Leeds Rhinos Wigan Warriors
1999 St Helens Bradford Bulls Bradford Bulls
2000 St Helens Wigan Warriors Wigan Warriors
2001 Bradford Bulls Wigan Warriors Bradford Bulls
2002 St Helens Bradford Bulls St Helens
2003 Bradford Bulls Wigan Warriors Bradford Bulls
2004 Leeds Rhinos Bradford Bulls Leeds Rhinos
2005 Bradford Bulls Leeds Rhinos St Helens
2006 St Helens Hull FC St Helens

[edit] 2006 Season

The competition kicked off the weekend after the World Club Challenge. This season saw the entry of Catalan Dragons, who are the first French team to compete since the demise of Paris Saint Germain at the end of Super League II.

Castleford Tigers were relegated from Super League on Saturday 16 September after finishing the regular season in 11th place (Catalans Dragons were exempt from relegation and finished 12th, therefore 11th placed-team was relegated).

In the Grand Final St. Helens beat Hull FC by 26-4 at Old Trafford. At half time the score stood at 10-4 for St. Helens. The Saints raced ahead in the second half with several tries. This victory, in addition to their Challenge Cup win and League Leader's Shield, meant that they had completed the league treble.

For full results, see Super League XI.

[edit] 2007 Season

The 2007 season will kick off on the weekend of February 2nd 2007 at the Galpharm Stadium. For the first time, the league will have a staggered start due to the World Club Challenge between St Helens RLFC and Brisbane Broncos. The first round of matches will begin on the weekend of February 9th-11th 2007. The 2007 season will also see the first Millennium Magic weekend in Cardiff.

Main article: Super League XII

[edit] See also

[edit] References

Super League - the first ten years, Phil Caplan and Jonathan R. Doidge, ISBN 0-7524-3698-8

[edit] External links

Super League (Europe)

Image:Bullscolours.png Bradford Bulls | Image:Catalanscolours.png Les Catalans | Image:Quinscolours.png Harlequins Rugby League | Image:Giantscolours.png Huddersfield Giants
Image:Hullcolours.png Hull FC | Image:HKRcolours.png Hull Kingston Rovers | Image:Rhinoscolours.png Leeds Rhinos | Image:Redscolours.png Salford City Reds
Image:Saintscolours.png St Helens | Image:Wcatscolours.png Wakefield Trinity Wildcats | Image:Wolvescolours.png Warrington Wolves | Image:Wigancolours.png Wigan Warriors

Rugby league in Britain and Ireland

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Former competitions
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Super League (Europe)

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