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Super League on the decline ‘for 30 years’ as pundits take aim over reported bid

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The hottest topic in Rugby League currently revolves around rumours and reports that the NRL is preparing to buy Super League, something that was first reported back in March, and now one iconic pundit has claimed that the English competition has been declining for “20 to 30 years”.

During the Super League war in the 1990s, the two leagues went to battle over the best players with English sides able to attract some of the NRL’s top talents. Arguably the last of these to be recruited was Jamie Lyon by St Helens in 2005 with the centre spending two seasons at the club and cementing his place as one of the best to ever grace Super League.

Since then, the power shift has slowly transitioned back to the NRL to the point now where they have a 17-team competition with plans for a further three expansion sides. That’s possible due to their huge $700 million turnover figures that they boasted for 2023.

In fact, the NRL salary cap is over three times more than the Super League cap which highlights the huge fight that Super League has on its hands to retain talent and also poach talent from the NRL. It was confirmed ahead of the 2023 seasons that the NRL cap would be £6.7 million, relative to Super League’s £2.1 million.

Has Super League been on the decline for 30 years?

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Credit: Imago Images

That was the argument of NRL pundit Greg Alexander, known to many as Brandy, who spoke on SEN Radio’s The Back Page show with host Matt Russell.

Russell highlighted the sorry state of England’s international game against France this weekend before alluding to suggestions that the NRL must look after Super League, rather than persevering to expand themselves.

He said: “France played England in an international with horrible streaming that they could barely watch, that no one attended, etc. Further to that, there was a tweet yesterday saying the NRL needs to realise how much trouble English rugby league is in, how dire the position is.

“Instead of Vegas and American Dreams, they should be focusing on the UK, building the Super League, taking origin to Wembley, creating greater links with English clubs so that there’s a bit of momentum.”

To that point, Brandy responded:  “That’s not a bad point, is it, because the English Super League has been on the wane for 20 or 30 years now.”

He went on to recall the highlights of yesteryear back when Super League was the dominant force, stating: “From the days of those great Kangaroo tours to now when Kangaroo tours aren’t anywhere near the same.

“When Australia were playing against club teams at their home grounds, that’s when English Rugby League was still strong but we are talking back in the 90s now, like in the early 90s. It has been on a wane now for 30 years.”

Talk of the NRL investing in Super League was legitimised by journalist David Riccio, the man to initially break the story, as he explained that it’s something that is “legitimately on the NRL’s radar” whilst having earlier explained that Super League is key to the NRL’s Las Vegas plans.

Riccio told Brandy: “This is legitimately on the NRL’s radar. I first reported this back in Las Vegas at the time of the games (March). I wrote the story from Vegas with the entire NRL there and speaking to key contacts at the NRL.”

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