The USA Rugby Super League, usually referred to as simply the Super League, was a national rugby union competition, now formally replaced by the USA Rugby Elite Cup. It was contested by eight clubs in the United States. The competition was sanctioned by USA Rugby, the sport's national governing body, and was the "premier level" of rugby union in the country until it was reformatted into the Elite Cup.12
The competition was created by the management of 14 of the best rugby organizations in the US. The goal was to create a high level, national rugby competition in the United States. The competition was then contested annually. The largest number of clubs to have competed in the league was 18, in 2007 and 2008; however, during the recent 2011 season, there were 11 teams divided into two conferences, Red and Blue. The 2012 season had 9 teams, again divided into Red and Blue conferences. There were finally 8 teams in the Rugby Super League, the majority of which now compete in the USA Rugby Elite Cup.
The Rugby Super League was created at a time when there was a need for expansion of the highest level of competitive rugby in the country. 1997 was subsequently the inaugural season of the competition. There were 14 teams competing, which were divided into two seven-team divisions, the Western-Pacific Conference and the Midwestern-East Conference.
The following season, two more sides gained entry into the competition, Boston RFC and the Philadelphia Whitemarsh RFC. Both teams joined the eastern conference, which saw the Harlequins move to the Western conference. This expansion saw two fifteen-team conferences. In 2001 the competition became recognized as the premier club rugby union competition in the United States - becoming separated from USA Rugby Division 1. The following season, the league expanded again, with the inclusion of New York Athletic Club, who gained entry through means of promotion and the Hayward Rugby, who formed a merger with Old Blues.
The 2002 season saw major changes to the competition, with the "east and west divisions" format being dissolved to form a national competition. The format reverted to the division-associated fixtures in 2005. Super League celebrated a decade of competition in 2006, with OMBAC defeating Belmont Shore 36 to 33 in the final which was held in Santa Clara, California. It was announced after the 2006 season that the Rugby Super League would be expanding from 15 teams to 18 for the 2007 season. Santa Monica Rugby accepted an invitation to join Super League, as did the Boston Irish Wolfhounds, who also finished runner-up in both Divisions I and III in 2006.3 The Chicago Griffins also joined to replace the Kansas City Blues, who self-relegated their club to the USA Rugby Division I men's club competition.
A major event took place in the 2008 season, with the live broadcast on ESPN Classic of the RSL Final between NYAC and Belmont Shore. It was an extremely hard fought match that saw NYAC winning 31-28 in sudden death. The league featured 16 teams in two conferences in 2009. Philadelphia Whitemarsh, Washington RFC, and the St. Louis Bombers did not return to the competition, while Life University returned after a six-season absence.
Because of the ongoing economic crisis, before the 2010 season longtime RSL powers Belmont Shore decided to only compete in Southern California's Division I competition. In response to this, Santa Monica also decided to self-relegate. Because of the uneven conferences, Dallas was shifted to the Red (West) Conference and no new teams were added, dropping the number to 14. In August 2010 the Boston Irish Wolfhounds also relegated themselves. In the fall of 2011, PAC Rugby withdrew from the competition and the Utah Warriors, based in Salt Lake City, entered the competition. The Chicago Lions and Utah Warriors withdrew prior to the 2012 season.4 The Chicago Griffins announced their withdrawal following the 2012 season.5 The RSL currently stands as a 8-team competition with two divisions.