Super League rebrand: RL Commercial and IMG chiefs dismiss popular theory as timeframe comes to light

Ben Olawumi
Super League logo, IMG logo, Bevan French, Ash Handley, Jack Welsby in front of Old Trafford tunnel branded up with Super League boardings

The 'Super League' name is here to stay, at least for now! - Alamy

Super League will continue to be known as just that, at least for the next few years, with both RL Commercial & IMG chiefs ruling out any name change in the immediate future in exclusive interviews with Love Rugby League.

Back in May 2022, when the RFL & Super League struck their 12-year strategic agreement with IMG, the tagline was that they would help to ‘re-imagine rugby league’.

We’re already seeing the beginning of that, with the reintroduction of licensing under the guise of grading, each club across the top three tiers handed an initial grade last October with the task of strengthening before the next round of results come in and start affecting things.

Added, there’s more coverage now than ever, with every one of the 162 men’s Super League games being shown live this season in some way, shape or form allowing for a video referee at each of them.

Improvements are there for all to see already, but among the question marks which remain are Super League’s name itself.

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Super League rebrand: RL Commercial and IMG chiefs Rhodri Jones & Matt Dwyer dismiss popular theory as timeframe comes to light

At least until recently, since the rise of the Women’s Super League in football – which was formed in 2010 – it’s been difficult for the rugby Super League to make a name for itself.

Given football’s popularity and the increase in interest in women’s football specifically, search engines have been placing that on top of the rugby league equivalent when a simple ‘Super League’ search is made.

Accordingly, a name change had been on the table. And it remains that way, just not for now, as both Rhodri Jones and Matt Dwyer told Love Rugby League during the off-season.

IMG supremo Dwyer said: “There’s all sorts of factors that go into something like that. From our point of view, we’re in a position where we looked at what the best thing we could do was with what was in front of us.

“We deemed it a refresh and I think it’s going to be a step-by-step process. We’ve started with a refresh with a new look and feel and there’s things we can do in the future.

“There’s so much to look at right now, you’ve seen the output over the last few months, but there’s so many places we could look.

“Even a company as big as IMG, there’s a limit on how many things you can look at for any one period.

“Is changing the name of the competition the thing that’s going to bring in all the new fans we want? Or is it getting that exposure, is that the way to do it? Yes.

“That’s where the resource and the time has gone. Where can we get the most bang for what we’re trying to do – that’s why everything isn’t being done at once.”

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Jones: ‘It’s not to say it will never happen, but it’s just not for the short-term’

As well as IMG’s initial gradings being released, last October also saw RL Commercial lock in a three-year extension to their partnership with Betfred which takes the bookmaker to 2026, their 10th season as Super League’s principal sponsor.

First getting involved in 2017, Betfred have since put their name against both the Women’s & Wheelchair Super Leagues as well as becoming the shirt sponsor for England’s teams.

At the time of the press release detailing the three-year extension, RL Commercial noted a 25% increase in value in the deal, and their director Jones admitted that’s part of the reason why the ‘Super League’ name won’t be going anywhere anytime soon.

Jones told Love Rugby League: “We’re 18 months into a 12-year relationship (with IMG).

“It (the discussion around the competition’s name) is one of those ones that will be there, but for the next three years, it’s Super League and it’s Betfred Super League.

“We’ll be holding broadcast and title sponsor talks in two and a half years’ time.

“It’s not to say it will never happen, but it’s just not for the short-term, I guess.”

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