American National Rugby League

American National Rugby League
Current season or competition:
2011 AMNRL Season
AMNRL logo
Sport Rugby league football
Inaugural season 1998
Commissioner David Niu
Number of teams 6
Country  United States
Champions New York Knights (2011)
Most titles Aston Bulls (6 titles)

The American National Rugby League (AMNRL) is a rugby league football competition for semi-professional clubs in the United States. It is the country's first domestic rugby league competition. The AMNRL is recognized as the governing body for the sport in the United States by the Rugby League International Federation (RLIF), and oversees the United States national rugby league team.

The competition that became the AMNRL was established in 1997, with six teams competing in the first season the following year. It grew to eleven by 2010, with future plans for westward expansion. On January 12, 2011, seven teams announced they were departing the AMNRL to form the new USA Rugby League.[1]




The competition that became the modern American National Rugby League was founded in 1997, when Super League America was formed to organize a national team, establish an amateur domestic competition, and build the sport in the United States.[2] The organization was initially established by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in an attempt to spread rugby league to the United States.[3] The organization was run by former professional player David Niu, who had come to Philadelphia in 1992 and had been active in promoting the sport there.[4] Super League America's domestic competition began its inaugural season in 1998, and was contested by six teams all in the Northeastern United States: the Glen Mills Bulls (now the Aston Bulls), the New Jersey Sharks (now the Bucks County Sharks), the New York Broncos (now the New York Knights), the Philadelphia Bulldogs (now the Philadelphia Fight), the Boston Storm, and the Pennsylvania Raiders.[2] The Boston and Pennsylvania teams soon dropped out; the others formed the core of the modern AMNRL. Super League America organized the domestic competition in 1998 and 1999; the Glen Mills Bulls were declared league champions in both years.[5]

In December 1999 Super League America announced a reorganization. The league headquarters moved to Jacksonville, Florida, with Jacksonville marketing executive Steve Gormley made the organization's new president; David Niu would serve as CEO and maintain the northeastern branch.[2] The organization was renamed the United States Rugby League, and set its sights on expanding into the Southeastern United States and attracting British rugby league teams to Florida for training camps and international competitions.[6] The USRL was successful in attracting foreign teams and advanced the U.S. national team to the Rugby League World Cup qualifiers for the first time; however, it was soon beset by internal strife.[7][8]

Complications over a deal with the British Rugby Football League led to a dispute that bankrupted the USRL.[4] In the midst of the dispute, in May 2001 the five domestic teams announced they were forming a new organization, the American National Rugby League, with Niu as its head.[9] Later that year Gormley sold the USRL's assets to the Rugby Football League, leaving the AMNRL as the sole rugby league body in the United States.[7]


The AMNRL is affiliated to the Rugby League International Federation, the sport's world governing body, through Super League America.[10] Expansion of the domestic league became a major goal for the organization, and new teams were added every few years. The Wilmington Vikings, now the New York Raiders, joined the competition in 2002, bringing the number of teams back up to six. The following year the Connecticut Wildcats of Norwalk, Connecticut and the Washington, D.C. Slayers were added.

In 2006 the league expanded once again to include the Jacksonville Axemen, the New Haven Warriors, and the Boston Braves. After the end of the season, however, the Boston Braves folded, and two charter teams, the Media Mantarays and the Philadelphia Fight, announced they were merging. The Fairfax Eagles joined the competition in 2007, and the Boston Thirteens joined in 2009. Another charter franchise, the Bucks County Sharks, suspended operations in 2010, while the Pittsburgh Vipers were added.

It was announced in early January 2010 that the Grand Final would be played at Philadelphia's A. A. Garthwaite Stadium.[11] The league underwent a major rebranding in 2010, with all teams getting their logos upgraded. The league has also announced plans for expansion; after a great first showing showing at the 2010 War at the Shore (L 10-16), Midwest Rugby League looks to possibly add the Chicago Stockyarders to the AMNRL in the coming years.[12]


On January 12, 2011, seven teams announced they were breaking with the AMNRL to form a new league, the USA Rugby League (USARL). Officials have given the lack of club involvement in the AMNRL's decision making as the reason for the split; the USA Rugby League will involve member clubs in its administration.[1][13][14] The departing teams are the Boston 13s, the D.C. Slayers, the Fairfax Eagles, the Jacksonville Axemen, the New Haven Warriors, the Philadelphia Fight, and the Pittsburgh Vipers (later the Pittsburgh Sledgehammers). Five of these teams (all except Fairfax and Pittsburgh), along with three new teams, participated in the USARL's inaugural 2011 season.

Expansion plans


The AMNRL has announced various plans for future expansion at various times. Beginning in 2001 the league announced plans for a Western American National Rugby League (WAMNRL) to develop the sport on the West Coast of the United States.[15] The AMNRL has revisited these plans several times since.[16]

In 2009 league officials announced the creation of a new, fully professional league, the National Rugby League USA (NRLUS), which originally hoped to launch in 2010. The AMNRL would serve as an amateur and semi-professional feeder league for the new competition. However, the new league has not gotten off the ground, with officials blaming the Great Recession for the delay.[17]

In 2011 the AMNRL announced plans for development in Hawaii in coordination with the Hawaii Rugby League.[18] The Atlanta Legion plan to join the competition in 2012 as part of the Southeast Conference currently the AMNRL have a Southwest, Pacific and Midwest Conference with plans for Detroit to be part of the Midwest Conference as well.[19]

Season structure

Since 1998 member teams of the domestic competition have competed in a Grand Final for the league championship. The winning team receives the "Ferrainola Cup", named for American rugby league promoter Sam Ferrainola.[20] Beginning in 2011, the AMNRL season will consist of an eight-round, seven-game regular season followed by a playoffs series culminating in the Grand Final. All six teams will advance to the playoffs, which will consist of a three-round single-elimination tournament, with the Grand Final winners receiving the championship title.[21]

One of signature events in the AMNRL's domestic schedule has been the War at the Shore. The event, held annually in Sea Isle City, New Jersey, generally consists of full 13-a-side and rugby league sevens games between AMNRL teams, local and national representative sides, and developmental teams.[22][23] Other scheduled events include the East v West Challenge Cup, a match between the Grand Final winners of the eastern competition and the Hawaiian Rugby League, and national team events.[21]

List of championship titles

Season Championship Final Information Regular Season Premiers
Champions Score Runners-Up
1998 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 66 – 12 Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Bulldogs
1999 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 28 – 10 Cronulla colours.svg New Jersey Sharks
2000 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 38 – 26 Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Bulldogs
2001 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 26 – 16 Delaware colours.svg Media Mantarays
2002 New York colors.svg New York Knights 18 – 12 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls
2003 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats 38 – 14 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls
2004 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 32 – 24 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats
2005 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls 32 – 30 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats
2006 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats 36 – 28 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Glen Mills Bulls
2007 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats 22 – 18 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Aston DSC Bulls Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats
2008 New Haven colours.svg New Haven Warriors 50 – 18 Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Aston DSC Bulls Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Aston DSC Bulls
2009 New York colors.svg New York Knights 32 – 12 Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen
2010 Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen 34 – 14 New Haven colours.svg New Haven Warriors New Haven colours.svg New Haven Warriors


There are six teams committed to be playing in the league for the 2011 season. Four of these teams, the Aston Bulls, the Connecticut Wildcats, the New York Knights, and the New York Raiders, played in the AMNRL the previous season. The Bucks County Sharks, who did not compete in the 2010 season, also rejoined the league in 2011.[24] A sixth team, the Delaware Vipers, were announced in April 2011. Based in Wilmington, Delaware, the AMNRL considers them successors to the Media Mantarays, who played in the competition from 2000–2006.[25]

In 2011 the AMNRL launched a Hawaii-based competition in partnership with the Hawaii Rugby League.[18] The AMNRL dubbed this the "Pacific Conference", while the East Coast-based competition was named the "Atlantic Conference". Teams listed in the Pacific Conference as of July 16, 2011 are the Hawaii Islanders, Honolulu Titans, Kalihi Raiders, Marist Marauders, Maui Voyagers, and Tama Suma Ie. However, as of that time, only the Marist, Maui, Tama Sulu, and Kalihi teams had played games, and had not played consistently.[26]

In addition, other teams are scheduled to compete in AMNRL-sponsored tournaments, and the league has announced plans for prospective future expansion. The Chicago Stockyarders played two rugby league nines games in 2010 and will embark on a fuller exhibition schedule in 2011.[27][28][29] On June 10, 2011, the Utah Avalanche of Salt Lake City, Utah, announced they were joining the AMNRL as a developing team.[30][31] The Avalanche were formed in early 2011 and were previously aligned with the USARL, playing in a USARL rugby league nines tournament in Philadelphia in May.[32][33][34] In June 2011 they announced they were re-aligning with the AMNRL.[35][36]

AMNRL teams
Team Stadium City/Area Foundation Year Championships
Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Aston Bulls Sun Valley High School Aston Township, Delaware County, Pennsylvania 1998 6 (as Glen Mills Bulls)
New Jersey colours.svg Bucks County Sharks Falls Township Community Park Levittown, Bucks County, Pennsylvania 1997 0
Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats Brien McMahon Stadium Norwalk, Connecticut 2003 3- 2003,2006,2007
CarcassonneRLcolours.PNGDelaware Vipers Baynard Stadium Wilmington, Delaware 2011 0
New York colors.svg New York Knights Hudson River Park New York City, New York 1997 2- 2002,2009
Northern Raiders colors.png New York Raiders Rockland Lake State Park Essex County, New York 2002 0

Pacific Conference

AMNRL teams
Team Foundation Year Championships
Hawaii Islanders 2011 0
Honolulu Titans 2011 0
Kalihi Raiders 2011 0
Marist Marauders 2011 0
Maui Voyagers 2011 0
Tama Sulu Ie 2011 0

Developing teams

AMNRL Developing teams
Team Stadium City/Area Formation
Melbourne colours.svg Utah Avalanche Taylorsville Park Salt Lake City, Utah 2011
Newcastle colours.svg Chicago Stockyarders Winnemac Park Chicago, Illinois 2010
Atlanta Legion Silverbacks Park Atlanta, Georgia 2011
Iowa City Crash City Park Iowa City, Iowa 2011

Former teams

Former AMNRL teams
Team City/Area Foundation Year Final Year
Melbourne colours.svg Boston Storm Boston, Massachusetts 1998 1998
Canberra colours.svg Pennsylvania Raiders Pennsylvania 1998 1998
Delaware colours.svg Delaware Valley Mantarays Ridley Park, Pennsylvania 2000 2006 Note
Boston colours.svg Boston Braves Boston, Massachusetts 2006 2006
Philadelphia colours.svg Philadelphia Bulldogs/Fight Conshohocken, Pennsylvania 1998 2010 (USARL)
Washington DC colours.svg Washington DC Slayers Washington, D.C. 2003 2010 (USARL)
Jacksonville colors.svg Jacksonville Axemen Jacksonville, Florida 2006 2010 (USARL)
New Haven colours.svg New Haven Warriors West Haven, Connecticut 2006 2010 (USARL)
Fairfax Eagles colors.svg Fairfax Eagles Herndon, Virginia 2007 2010 (USARL)
Ipswich Colours.svg Boston Thirteens Boston, Massachusetts 2009 2010 (USARL)
CarcassonneRLcolours.PNG Pittsburgh Vipers Cheswick, Pennsylvania 2010 2010 (USARL)

Note Delaware Valley Mantarays merged with Philadelphia Bulldogs in 2006. The AMNRL considers the Delaware Vipers to be successors to the Mantarays.[citation needed]

Commissioners and presidents

Statistics and awards

League records

Largest Victory: Jacksonville Axemen 90 - 8 Philadelphia Fight (2006)

Most Valuable Player

At the conclusion of each season the title of Most Valuable Player is awarded to the individual whom accumalates the most points via a voting system that is undertaken after every game. Each official at the conclusion of a regular season fixture awards either three, two and one points for the most deserving players on game day; these points are then added up to determine the MVP. Performance is not only measured by individual feats but also the influence that player has had on the performance of their respective team.

Year Player Club
2010 Brent Shorten Jacksonville Axemen
2009 Luke Hume New York Knights
2008 Siose Muliumu New Haven Warriors
2006 Jason Gargaram Glen Mills Bulls
2005 Andrew Webster / Erik Hollingsworth Connecticut Wildcats / Glen Mills Bulls
2004 Marcus Vassilakopoulos Glen Mills Bulls
2003 Danny Bull Connecticut Wildcats
2002 Shayne Mains Glen Mills Bulls
2001 Dave DiValerio Delaware Valley Mantarays
2000 Ed Woodbridge Glen Mills Bulls
1999 Shayne Mains Glen Mills Bulls
1998 Bill Hansbury Glen Mills Bulls

Every season to date has seen an individual awarded the MVP excluding the 2005 season where both Andrew Webster and Erik Hollingsworth were awarded the Most Valuable player after they finished on equal points.

See also


  1. ^ a b "Breakaway league launched in the US". January 12, 2011. Retrieved January 18, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b c "Room for Rugby". Jacksonville Business Journal. December 13, 1999. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  3. ^ Christopher K. Hepp (September 18, 1998). "Murdoch's Money Creating A U.S. Toehold For Rugby". The Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved August 26, 2011. 
  4. ^ a b Hannan, Tony (April 2002). "Niu York, Niu York!". Rugby League World. Retrieved June 13, 2011.
  5. ^
  6. ^ Mya M. Borger (January 10, 2000). "Playing for Keeps". Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  7. ^ a b Devan Stuart (October 1, 2001). "Gormley sells U.S. rugby league". Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ Jessica Gellady (March 24, 2003). "Revamping Rugby". Jacksonville Business Journal. Retrieved February 15, 2011. 
  9. ^ David Hundt (May 4, 2001). "Who's in control?". Archived from the original on November 19, 2005. Retrieved January 24, 2011. 
  10. ^ AMNRL (2009-07-02). "The American National Rugby League Vision". American National Rugby League. Archived from the original on 2010-04-18. Retrieved 2010-04-18. 
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^ Mascord, Steve (January 12, 2011). "Discord 2011: Edition 2". Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  14. ^ "New Rugby League Competition Announced". Rugby Magazine. January 12, 2011. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  15. ^ Steven Birchall (April 19, 2001). "RL in US head west". Retrieved June 9, 2011. 
  16. ^ Brian, Lowe (September 28, 2010). "RL Hopes to Move West". (American Rugby News). [dead link]
  17. ^ Staff (February 7, 2010). "Big USA money chasing Stacey Jones". The Dominion Post. Retrieved January 13, 2011. 
  18. ^ a b "Hawaii Expansion". American National Rugby League. 2011. Retrieved April 29, 2011. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Nick Walshaw (September 4, 2002). "First-Year Knights Win Yankee Comp". Rugby League World. Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved March 10, 2011. 
  21. ^ a b "AMNRL Official Schedule". American National Rugby League. 2011. Retrieved May 9, 2011. 
  22. ^ "War at the Shore". American Rugby News. July 27, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  23. ^ Brian Lowe (August 1, 2010). "War at the Shore Success". American Rugby News. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  24. ^ Tim McCall (January 31, 2011). "Sharks commit to AMNRL for season 2011". Retrieved March 3, 2011. 
  25. ^ "Delaware Vipers". American National Rugby League. 2011. Retrieved April 28, 2011. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ "Chicago Stockyarders Sign First Sponsor". October 13, 2010. Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  28. ^ Brian Lowe (November 1, 2010). "USA Strategic Plan". Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  29. ^ Brian Lowe (January 8, 2011). "Sharks To Rejoin AMNRL". Retrieved January 27, 2011. 
  30. ^
  31. ^ "Utah Avalanche join American National Rugby League". June 10, 2011. Retrieved June 10, 2011. 
  32. ^
  33. ^
  34. ^
  35. ^
  36. ^

External links

Official websites

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