American National Rugby League

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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 plans for westward expansion. On January 12, 2011, seven teams announced they were departing the AMNRL to form the new USA Rugby League.

As of May 2014, there has been no official announcement for the schedule for the 2014 season. The competition is assumed to have been suspended.


  • 1 History
    • 1.1 Origins
    • 1.2 Growth
    • 1.3 AMNRL/USARL split
    • 1.4 Expansion plans
  • 2 Season structure
    • 2.1 List of championship titles
  • 3 Teams
    • 3.1 Pacific Conference
    • 3.2 Developing teams
    • 3.3 Former teams
  • 4 Commissioners and presidents
  • 5 Statistics and awards
    • 5.1 League records
    • 5.2 Most valuable player
  • 6 See also
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


See also: Rugby league in the United States


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. The organization was initially established by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation in an attempt to spread rugby league to the United States. 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. 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. 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.

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. 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. 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.

Complications over a deal with the British Rugby Football League led to a dispute that bankrupted the USRL. 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. 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.


The AMNRL is affiliated to the Rugby League International Federation, the sport's world governing body, through Super League America. 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. 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 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.


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. 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.

Tentative discussions have been made with an objective to reunite the two competitions, with no clear outcome as yet. After stalled talks of reunification in late 2013-14, the Northern Virginia Eagles withdrew from the AMNRL and joined the USARL.

Expansion plans

See also: National Rugby League USA

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. The AMNRL has revisited these plans several times since.

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.

In 2011 the AMNRL announced plans for development in Hawaii in coordination with the Hawaii Rugby League. There have also been plans to include new teams in different areas, such as the Atlanta Legion of Atlanta, Georgia, who plan to join for the 2012 season. This however, never came to fruition, and Atlanta's first rugby league side joined the USARL in 2014, forming a partnership with the Leeds Rhinos.

The AMNRL entered into a partnership arrangement with Grand Prix Entertainment to promote and grow the game in the USA, in return for ownership of the league and TV rights to world cup matches in 2013. At present, the ownership of the league is uncertain.

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. 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.

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. 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.

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
2011 New York colors.svg New York Knights 38–4 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats New York colors.svg New York Knights
2012 New York colors.svg New York Knights 60–40 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats New York colors.svg New York Knights
2013 Connecticut colors.svg Connecticut Wildcats 42–10 New York colors.svg New York Knights


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Six teams played in 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. A sixth team, the Delaware Vipers, were announced in April 2011 and played during the season. Ostensibly based in Wilmington, Delaware, the AMNRL considered them successors to the Media Mantarays, who played in the competition from 2000–2006.

In 2011 the AMNRL launched a Hawaii-based competition in partnership with the Hawaii Rugby League. 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.

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. On June 10, 2011, the Utah Avalanche of Salt Lake City, Utah, announced they were joining the AMNRL as a developing team. 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. In June 2011 they announced they were re-aligning with the AMNRL.

On November 26, 2011 the AMNRL announced that the Northern Virginia Eagles, formerly the Fairfax Eagles, would be reforming and joining the competition. On December 7 they announced a new team, the Atlanta Legion of Atlanta, Georgia, would be joining the league. In the new year the AMNRL released its 2011 review and announced its "Road to the 2013 Rugby League World Cup" which includes launching teams and competitions in the East, Midwest, West and Southwest. A further two teams were announced to be joining the league on January 13 – the Las Vegas Warriors and Colorado Blizzard were announced to be part of a Western Conference as well as new teams forming from Los Angeles and San Francisco.

AMNRL teams
Team Stadium City/Area Foundation Year Championships
Aston DSC-Glen Mills colours.svg Pennsylvania 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
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 Rockland County, New York 2002 0

Pacific Conference

AMNRL teams
Team Stadium Area Foundation Year Championships
Hawaii Islanders Hawaii 2011 0
Honolulu Titans Honolulu, Hawaii 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 Conference Formation
Newcastle colours.svg Chicago Stockyarders Winnemac Park Chicago, Illinois Midwest 2010
Melbourne colours.svg Utah Avalanche Taylorsville Park Salt Lake City, Utah Southwest 2011
Las Vegas Warriors Sunset Park Las Vegas, Nevada Southwest 2012
Colorado Blizzard N/A Denver, Colorado Southwest 2012
Western Storm N/A Elgin, Illinois Midwest 2012

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
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)
Ipswich Colours.svg Boston Thirteens Boston, Massachusetts 2009 2010 (USARL)
CarcassonneRLcolours.PNG Pittsburgh Vipers Cheswick, Pennsylvania 2010 2010 (USARL)
CarcassonneRLcolours.PNGDelaware Vipers Wilmington, Delaware 2011 2011
Iowa City Crash Iowa City, Iowa 2012 2013 (GPRL)
St. George colours.svgSouthampton Dragons Southampton, New York 2013 2014
Fairfax Eagles colors.svg Northern Virginia Eagles Manassas, Virginia 2007 2014 (USARL)

Delaware Valley Mantarays merged with Philadelphia Bulldogs in 2006. The AMNRL considers the Delaware Vipers to be successors to the Mantarays.

Commissioners and presidents

  • David Niu (1998–2012), President
  • Curtis Cunz (2013–Present), President

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 who accumulates 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 or 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 his respective team.

Year Player Club
2013 Mike Schacter Connecticut Wildcats
2012 Matt Walsh Connecticut Wildcats
2011 Nigel Milgate New York Knights
2010 Adrian Grayson Jacksonville Axemen
2009 Luke Hume New York Knights
2008 Siose Muliumu New Haven Warriors
2007 Conway Maraki Aston Bulls
2006 Jason Gargaram Glen Mills Bulls
2005 Andrew Webster / Erik Hollingsworth Connecticut Wildcats / Glen Mills Bulls
2004 Marcus Acidopholus 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 with equal points.

See also

Portal icon Rugby league portal
  • Rugby league in the United States


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Official websites

Competition Teams

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