Super League Betting

Not to be confused with the 10-team U.S. Rugby Super League, which plays by Rugby Union rules, the organisation known as Super League (Europe) Limited (SLE) conducts Europe’s top-level professional rugby league football club competition. It currently consists of 14 teams, all of which hail from England but one—the Catalans Dragons of Perpignan, France.

The Super League was inaugurated in 1996 as the brainchild of media magnate Rupert Murdoch. It was a major undertaking, requiring a switch in the British rugby season from winter to summer for the first time in a century. The long-existing Rugby Football League (RFL) made way for the new format, essentially releasing its ten best teams and taking second seat as the region’s foremost rugby authority.

To complete the Super League’s initial roster of a dozen members, the young London Broncos of the former RFL Second Division were included along with the newly formed Paris Saint-Germain club from France. The twelve-team structure remained in place through 2008, with the RFL serving as a second tier for promotion and relegation from 2002 onward.

The withdrawal of the Paris side from competition after the first two seasons temporarily turned Super League “Europe” into an all-British entity. In 2006, France announced “Les Catalans” as the nation’s new representative and the second-lowest ranking team from the 2005 season was relegated to the RFL to make room for the newcomer.

Following the 2007 season, a new system of organisation was announced, eliminating the relegation process in favour of licensing. No longer would on-the-field performance be the sole determinant of qualification for Super League membership. Clubs needed to apply for a three-year license to participate, and admission would depend on three factors in addition to playing strength: stadium facilities, finance and business performance, and commercial and marketing capabilities.

Expansion of the SLE occurred in 2008 by adding two franchises. The existing twelve clubs were all licensed along with the Salford City Reds and the Celtic Crusaders—the first team from Wales to enter Super League competition. However, the costs of participation proved to be too much for the Welsh side. They took a decision not to renew their license in 2011, making way for the Widnes Vikings to rejoin the SLE after a five-year absence.

Having secured title sponsorship from engage Mutual Assurance, the SLE is now formally known as the engage Super League. Each of its teams plays 27 games between February to September, consisting of 13 home games, 13 away games and one “Magic Weekend” game at a neutral venue.

At the close of the regular season, the team with the best record receives the League Leaders Shield. Then, the eight teams finishing at the top of the table compete in post-season play-offs, two knock-out rounds that culminate with the Grand Final that determines the overall SLE champion.

St. Helens of Merseyside has won the most Shields in SLE history—a total of six, including four in succession between 2006 and 2009. The Bradford Bulls have won four Shields, while the Wigan Warriors have claimed three. But when it comes to the Grand Final, no side has excelled more than the 2011 champions and two-time Shield winners Leeds Rhinos. Their five victories include a hat trick in 2007-09. By comparison, St. Helens have won four Finals, the Bulls have three and the Warriors have two.

The four aforementioned clubs completed dominated the Super League from 1996 through 2010, taking home every single piece of silverware on offer. Then finally, in 2011 a fifth force emerged, as the Warrington Wolves topped the leaderboard at the end of the season to capture the League Leaders Shield.

Betting on Super League action takes a number of forms, from ante-post wagers on the season’s ultimate Shield winner and Grand Final champion to match betting on each and every game. Handicap betting has become popular in recent years, with bookmakers willing to give points in order to induce betting, so shopping for good odds is a must.

Other wagers possible when betting on Super League games include first side to score, last side to score, backing a specific player to score a try, number of trys over/under, total combined score over/under, leader at the half, and a variety of live, in-running markets. Sky Sports offer excellent coverage of Super League contests, with up to three live games televised each week.

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