In tandem with USA Rugby’s club competition restructure will be a major change in the Super League.
The Rugby Super League has been shrinking, as teams struggle with the finances of ever-increasing travel costs. In addition, some clubs have dropped out of the league because it has become increasingly difficult to field squads in both the Super League and DI.
(An aside – many fans might remember that when the Super League first formed in 1997, it was a maverick organization actively opposed by USA Rugby. From 1997 to 2000 Super League teams also competed in the DI leagues and playoffs. Aspen won all four of those DI titles, plus the 1997 RSL title, Belmont Shore, Denver, and Life took the next three RSL crowns.
But after that, USA Rugby brought the RSL under their sanction, and the upshot was that playing Super League rugby became more difficult, not less.)
So the Super League is disbanding as a national league, putting all of their teams back into DI. Then the Super League will reform as a Super League Cup (name to be confirmed). This will be a tournament-style competition played in parallel with the DI season.
For this coming spring, the old Super League teams will participate plus some of the top DI club finishers from 2011-2012.
Asked about this last week, USA Rugby CEO Nigel Melville said the new Super League Cup still has some details to be ironed out (a five-person committee with USA Rugby and RSL people, overseen by Melville, is hashing it out). But, the idea makes sense.
“We want to continue moving forward,” said Melville. “This is like a Heineken Cup; a competition played at the same time as your regular club league.”
Unlike the DI club restructure, which will take shape in 2013-2014, the Super League change will happen right now.