This year it is Wigan top, with Warrington and St Helens the nearest challengers, followed by Leeds, Hull FC and on its good days Huddersfield.
So we only have six clubs out of 14 who could win the competition (a minority), but realistically it is only four: Wigan, Warrington, St Helens and Leeds. And they are alll M62 clubs. The non-M62 clubs Crusaders, Harlequins and Catalans have no chance. So there is no geographical diversity among the competitive clubs.
Compare that with the NRL: in that competition there are 12 competitive clubs: Melbourne, St George-Illawarra, Penrith, Wests Tigers, Sydney Roosters, NZ Warriors, Manly, Brisbane, Gold Coast, South Sydney, Parramatta and Canberra. This is a strong majority of the 16. It is also somewhat geographically diverse with 7 of the 12 from Sydney metropolitan area, two from Queensland, one from NZ, one from the national capital, and one from Melbourne.
So in the NRL there is mcuch less certainty about who will win the NRL Grand Final, or even who will make the play offs. In part the NRL diversity reflects the greater diversity of the NRL competiiton where 9 of the 16 clubs are from Sydney -- a ratio which will likely fall in 2013 to 9 out of 18 with the addition of Perth and one other non-Sydney club.
The fact that there are fewer competitive clubs in the Super League affects crowds. The fact that there is so little geographical diversity, and the diverse clubs are not strong, affects the TV audience. In the NRL the TV audience is helped by a guarantee that most Friday night teleecasts will include at least one club from Queensland. In Britain, because there are so few non M62 clubs , and they are relatively weak, such a rule could not work with Sky at this time.
So there seems to be two issues: raise the number of competitive clubs, raise the geographical diversity of clubs.
The latter demands that the Super League be expanded geographically. The former problem is a much more difficult one to deal with. It is not clear to me what the solution is, other than increasing the financial resources at the weaker clubs so that all could spend up to the salary cap (easier said than done), and relying less on imports (which the RFL is trying to realise).
If these two issues could be resolved, then the Super League contests would become more diverse and more attractive to both ground spectators and the television auddience. In this way rugby league would surely become a more powerful and prosperous sport in Britain and France.
Edited by ParisSurtout, 21 July 2010 - 10:25 PM.