Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Super League (Europe)
Super League (Europe) is the only full-time professional rugby league competition operating in the northern hemisphere. Currently all the teams are based in Great Britain, though there has been French involvement and it is intended that the French will re-join the competition in 2006. As a result of sponsorship from Engage Mutual Assurance the competition is currently officially known as the Engage Rugby Super League.
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:
- Castleford, Wakefield and Featherstone Rovers would form Calder
- Hull FC and Hull Kingston Rovers would form Humberside
- Whitehaven RLFC, Workington Town , Barrow and Carlisle would form Cumbria
- Warrington and Widnes were to form Cheshire
- Salford and Oldham were to form Manchester
- Sheffield and Doncaster were to form South Yorkshire
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) 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, it has recently been announced that a French side, Union Treiziste Catalane from Perpignan, are to be introduced in 2006. In order to facilitate this move, it has been decided that two clubs will be 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 will remain at 12.
Currently, 12 teams compete in Super League. They play each other twice on a home-and-away basis. An additional six fixtures are then included. 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.
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.
See Rugby League Championship for full list of championship winners (1895-date).
|Year||Grand Final winners||Grand Final runners up||League leaders|
|1996 (SL I)||-||-||St Helens|
|1997 (SL II)||-||-||Bradford Bulls|
|1998 (SL III)||Wigan Warriors||Leeds Rhinos||Wigan Warriors|
|1999 (SL IV)||St Helens||Bradford Bulls||Bradford Bulls|
|2000 (SL V)||St Helens||Wigan Warriors||Wigan Warriors|
|2001 (SL VI)||Bradford Bulls||Wigan Warriors||Bradford Bulls|
|2002 (SL VII)||St Helens||Bradford Bulls||St Helens|
|2003 (SL VIII)||Bradford Bulls||Wigan Warriors||Bradford Bulls|
|2004 (SL IX)||Leeds Rhinos||Bradford Bulls||Leeds Rhinos|
Teams in bold were champions.
For 2005 season
- Bradford Bulls
- Huddersfield Giants
- Hull FC
- Leeds Rhinos
- Leigh Centurions
- London Broncos
- Salford City Reds
- St Helens RFC
- Wakefield Trinity Wildcats
- Warrington Wolves
- Wigan Warriors
- Widnes Vikings
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