Super League

Rugby Ball on Stand

The Super League the pinnacle of club rugby league within the UK. The league, made up of 12 teams, has been running since 1996 and in that time, has been able to lure some of the biggest names within the sport from around the world.

The league is relatively short compared to the likes of football and even rugby union, running from February through to July, before then splitting off into a ‘Super 8’. As the league has progressed it’s been able to attract bigger and better sponsors, with current sponsors that of sports betting behemoth, Betfred at the helm. 

Super League Grand Final Betting Tips For 2018

After kicking-off all the way back in February, Super League XXIII has reached the season ending Grand Final to decide who will become the 2018 Champions. We have previewed the big game and have given our prediction which can be found below.

MatchTimeDay & DateTip
Wigan v Warrington 18:00 Saturday October 13th 2018 Wigan to win @ 8/15

League Format

Regular Season

The regular season is pretty straight forwarded in that the 12 teams each play one and other twice, both home and away. Teams will pick up 2 points for a win, 1 point for a draw and 0 for a loss. 

As the regular season is quite short, it does mean that the games come thick and fast and it’s not uncommon for teams to play 2 games within a week, something that has been criticised in the past. The top 8 teams after the 23 rounds of matches, the top 8 teams will play in the Super 8, more on that below.

Magic Weekend

Magic Weekend is a concept that has been employed by the Super League in order to try and promote the game a little bit in areas where the sport isn’t as popular as it could be. The concept started in 2007, first being launched in the Millennium stadium, Cardiff, before then moving to Edinburgh, back to Cardiff and now residing at St James’ Park, Newcastle.

The Magic Weekend will host a full round of fixtures over the course of a weekend, often with 3 games being played on the Saturday and 3 games being played on the Sunday. Due to the size of grounds such as St James’ Park, it means that over 50,000 spectators could potentially watch each match, exposing the sport to a much larger ground capacity than the majority of Super League grounds.

A few attempts at finding the right time of season to play the Magic Weekend have been trialled, but now it usually falls somewhere around mid-season. This means that it falls outside of the football for use of bigger stadiums and often means the weather is a little better, encouraging fans to attend in their masses. 

Super 8’s

The Super 8’s is often thought of as the business end of the season, where the league is reduced from 12 down to 8 on rankings. The bottom 4 will drop down to what’s known as the Qualifiers; more on that below. 

The remaining 8 teams will then play each other one more time, either home or away. Regular season rankings will determine how many home games each teams plays, with teams ranked higher getting more than those ranked lower. 

After this round of fixtures has been completed, the season then goes into the Play offs, where the top 4 teams all take part. 

Qualifiers

The Qualifiers will include the bottom 4 teams from the Super League and the top 4 teams from the Championship. The points totals are rest to zero and from that each team will play each other once, either home or away. 

The top 3 teams within that mini league will each qualify for a sport within the Super League proper next season, with the teams finishing in 4thand 5thplace playing it out for the final spot in what’s called the 1 million pound game. 

The Million Pound Game

The Million Pound Game is arguably the most exciting game within the Super League season. It’s been running since 2015 as part of a reshuffle from the Rugby Football League to try and insert some much needed life into the league and the sport. 

The game includes the 4thand 5thplace from the Qualifiers completion and is labelled the ‘One Million Pound Game’ because that’s how much it would be worth to either club to be in the Super League over the Championship. 

Playoffs

The playoffs are a pretty simple structure to be honest, with the top 4 teams from the Super 8’s playing in a single knockout game before the winners then go on to the Grand Final. The winners of the super 8’s will play 4thposition and 2ndplace will play 3rdplace. Both 1stand 2ndplace will play their playoff games at home. 

Grand Final

The Grand Final is the pinnacle of the league and it award the teams the trophy of Super League winners for that season. Since 1998 the game has been played at Old Trafford, which is very much known as the home of rugby league, largely from its proximity to a high number of Super League clubs.

Whilst a trophy is awarded to the regular season league winner, the real accolade is being crowned as Grand Final winners. In 2015 the largest attendance ever at a Grand final was recorded of 73,512. 

Statistics

Over the course of the 20+ years that the Super League has been running, there have only ever been 4 winners of the Grand Final trophy; Leeds Rhinos, St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Bradford Bulls. 

Whilst arguably not as popular as the likes of Wigan and St Helens, it’s actually Leeds Rhinos who have the most wins, with 8 wins and 2 runners up finishes. Closely followed by St Helens with 5 wins, Wigan with 4, and Bradford who are three-time winners.

Chart Showing Most Successful Super League Grand Final Clubs

It’s actually St Helens that have been able to reach the final on more occasions than the rest though, with 10 appearances in total, winning 5 and losing 5. Interestingly, those 5 loses all come in consecutive years from Super League XII through to super League XVI, a stat that their home fans will not want to be reminded of. 

Man of Steel

Luke Gale Playing for Castleford
2017 Super League Man of Steel Luke Gale by Gerard Barrau via Wikimedia Commons

The Man of Steel Award has been running since 1977 and is widely regarded as the highest individual honour that a player can receive within the game. The award often overlooks players who are club captains or who have scored the most points within the league and instead look for players who have gone above and beyond for their team throughout the season. 

These guys aren’t necessarily making all the headlines, but without them in a team, then that team would suffer as a result. It’s also worth noting that whilst a British award for the Super League, there have been both Australians and New Zealanders win the award, highlighting that anyone can pick it up. 

In 2013 the sad passing of Steve Prescott, a former England player, caused a petition of over 12,000 signatures to get the trophy renamed after him. The official title from 2014 onwards is the Steve Prescott Man of Steel. 

The award is presented at the end of season gala and is voted for by both players and the rugby league press. There have only ever been 3 multiple winners of this award, which include Ellery Hanley (3), Paul Scunthorpe (2) and Andy Farrell (2). 

Man of Steel Award Winners

Year

Player

Club

Country

2017

Luke Gale

Castleford

England

2016

Danny Houghton

Hull

England

2015

Zak Hardaker

Leeds

England

2014

Daryl Clark

Castleford

England

2013 

Danny Brough

Huddersfield

Scotland

History

The origins of the league came from the head of BskyB, Rupert Murdoch. In the mid-nineties it was Murdoch who was at logger heads with Australian networks about televisions rights for rugby league both within the UK and in Australia. As a way to try and overcome this, he decided that the UK needed an injection of both money and exposure, which he did via his TV channels and also incredible wealth. 

Murdoch approached the top clubs in the top tier in 1995 and by 1996 the Super League was born, with a promise for increased TV coverage and as a result, more money for each club. 12 teams signed the agreement and also agreed to a seasonal switch, from winter to summer to ensure they weren’t competing for air time with the likes of football and even the more popular, rugby union.

Up until 2002 the league saw very few changes and whilst there were teems that were bidding to get in, few were able to offer the teams needed and facilities to compete with the already established teams. Many mergers were discussed, but few actually went through. Disgruntled teams from the lower divisions were frustrated at the ‘closed door’ system of the Super League, prompting a change in 2002. 

The experiment to include a team from Paris had ultimately failed, with clubs stating that the increased travel time to games was frustrating. So, in 2002 they were axed and instead the Super League would include both promotion and relegation for the first time. 

But, the need for a French team within the league grew and grew, before in 2006 it was announced that Catalan Dragoons, from Perpignan were to join the league. This meant that to accommodate them the league would have to relegate 2 teams, with the previous season only 1 would have gone down, much to the dismay of Widnes, who were unfortunately the sacrificial lamb. 

In 2005, it was announced that new licensing structure would be coming into play. This was to make sure that clubs were doing as much off the field as they were on the field. They didn’t want to make the league a closed shop again, but they wanted the teams that did come up and even the exiting teams, to meet a certain level that was expected of any professional sports club.

These criteria include the likes of stadium, finances, facilities and the development of youth players, amongst other things, in order to make sure that these clubs are up to scratch. The license would grade each club from A, B to C. A and B were in and C needed improvement. Licenses were issued for up to 3 years and then they would be reviewed to make sure that clubs weren’t slipping but also to allow ambitious lower league teams the chance to play top-flight rugby league. 

The first licensing period came in June 2008 and this meant that the league was to be expanded to 12 from 14 teams, with Salford and Celtic Crusaders being include, the latter being the first welsh team to play Super League. The second licensing period wasn’t until 2012, when it was decided that Widnes would be re-joining the league after meeting all criteria. There were actually 4 teams that were eligible to apply, but after meetings with the RFL, the other three all withdrew citing finances as the main reason why they didn’t want to move up a league. 

For the 2015 season a major reshuffle once again took place, with the inclusion of the Super 8. The concept of the Super 8 and the Qualifiers means that there is something to play for each team throughout the season. Features such as the Magic Weekend and the playoffs are all aspects that are helping the Super League grow. 

Leeds Rhinos

Danny Maguire Playing for Leeds Rhinos
Former Leeds Rhinos Player Danny Maguire by Fleets, Wikimedia Commons (Image Cropped)

Leeds Rhinos are the most successful team in the Super League, with 8 league titles to their name. The club has been steeped in history since they first opened their doors back in 1870 and with it have enjoyed success both on and off the field. 

The club has been lucky in that they have been able to enjoy some of the best players to have played the game, including the likes of Danny McGuire, Rob Burrow, Kevin Sinfield, Matt Diskin, Terry Clawson and Bev Risman, to name just a few. They’ve been able to offer up 4 players for the Man of Steel awards over the years as well, including David Ward, Gary Scofield, Iestyn Harris and Zak Hardaker. 

Wigan 

Wigan are the founding members of the Northern Rugby Football union and have been about since 1872. They’ve been able to win 4 Super League Grand Finals, with 21 League championships in total. Across both Super League and the top ranked league in England, Wigan have won more titles than any other team with 21 in total, making them the most successful league in Rugby League history. 

Few clubs have been able to host as many superstars amongst their ranks as Wigan have. Just some of these names include Kris Radlinski, Jason Robinson, Gary Connolly, Martin Offiah, Henry Paul, Shaun Edwards, Terry O’Connor, Denis Betts and Andy Farrell, to name just a few. Often dubbed the ‘Man United’ of Super League, Wigan are probably the best known team in the league and have often been linked with notable supporters such as Rio Ferdinand, Andrew Flintoff and Sir Ian Botham.  

Their closest and biggest rival are that of St Helens and it’s these two teams that often have the most fiery matches between the two. In fact, games often used to get scheduled for boxing day fixtures before the summer switch and now are firmly set in stone for a Good Friday showdown.

St Helens

St Helens were formed just a year after Wigan in 1873, but have seen a lot of success over the years. They are one of the founding members of the Northern Rugby Football Union, an accolade that they are very proud of within the club. 

Only Leeds and Wigan have won more championship medal than St Helens, with 13 to their name, seeing the majority of their success within the Super League era. They’ve also been dubbed as one of the unluckiest teams in the league as well, losing on 5 consecutive Gran Final appearances. 

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