Rugby League: That’s The Way It Was. The Superleague War

A look back at the most divisive period in our game’s history. 

Rob is joined by author Mike Colman, author of the book, Super League – The Inside Story. The story starts before a player cheque was even signed, with the commissioning of the Bradley Report.


On one side there was Super League, backed by Rupert Murdoch and News Corporation. On the other was the ARL, headed by Ken Arthurson (pictured) supported by Kerry Packer and Optus Vision. At stake was the bounty of broadcasting rights and supremacy in the sport.

Super League had attracted several  existing clubs, and introduced two new clubs. The ARL fought to keep the remaining teams loyal, with threats of court cases and the promise for a share in the spoils. 

When the ARL tried to block the new league, Super League, headed by John Ribot (pictured) ran one season parallel to the ARL’s in 1997.

At the conclusion of that season a peace deal was reached and the two leagues united to form the National Rugby League. 

But what price peace? Hundreds of millions of dollars ripped up, friendships destroyed and a cynical fan base that would take a long time to win back over.

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1998 Competition Table – First season of the NRL

*Source: Wikipedia

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