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Super League war

From Academic Kids

The Super League war saw a battle for control of television rights for the sport of rugby league. It centred on Australia, but the effects of the battle were felt across the rugby league playing world.

Australasian Super League

Super League was a creation of international media magnate Rupert Murdoch in a much-criticised attempt to monopolise the media coverage of Rugby League football in Australia. Super League consisted of many teams poached from the Australian Rugby League (ARL) and also other teams created for the sole purpose of Super League, e.g. the Hunter Mariners and the Adelaide Rams. In 1997 both Rupert Murdoch's Super League and the Australian Rugby League (ARL) co-existed, running two separate competitions.

Murdoch was dissatisfied with the close relationship between the ARL and Kerry Packer's PBL, which broadcast ARL games on its free-to-air (FTA) Nine Network. He wished to break Packer's lock on rugby league, and increase the importance of his own Fox Sports channel.

Packer's then pay TV plan was to work closely with Optus Television and Sports Australia, which had exclusive ARL pay TV rights. The only FTA broadcaster interested in Super League coverage, was the ABC.

With the sponsorship market and total crowd attendances being divided up among two competitions and a much larger number of teams compared to before Super League, teams soon found themselves in financial difficulty. It was in this cash-strapped environment that negotiations between Super League and the Australian Rugby League took place, resulting in a joint venture between the two - the National Rugby League as it exists to-day. Nevertheless, many teams (especially those based in areas without traditional support for the sport) were no longer viable and thus disappeared from the new NRL, and four more merged to create two new "joint venture" teams.

In addition, Fox Sports became jointly owned by News Corp and PBL. The new NRL TV rights went to PBL's Nine Network, News Corp owned Fox8 and the now jointly owned Fox Sports.

Super League existed as its own competition for just one season. The Super League champions in 1997 were the Brisbane Broncos, who defeated the Cronulla Sharks 26-8 at ANZ Stadium in Brisbane. The Broncos also won an expanded 8-team World Club Challenge, beating the Hunter Mariners 36-12 in the Grand Final at Ericsson Stadium, Auckland.

The Australasian Super League involved the following teams: Adelaide Rams, Auckland Warriors, Brisbane Broncos, Canberra Raiders, Canterbury Bulldogs, Cronulla Sharks, Hunter Mariners, North Queensland Cowboys, Penrith Panthers, Perth Reds

European Super League

See Super League (Europe)

See also

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