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Rugby League: League celebrates Australian ruling

The Rupert Murdoch-backed Super League overcame the last remaining legal threat to its proposed kick-off in Australia next year when the country's high court in Sydney denied the Australian Rugby League leave to appeal against an earlier ruling which freed the Super League to start in 1997.

The court ruling ends a 14-month legal wrangle and means the 10-team Super League will run in direct competition to the 12 teams in the existing ARL Premiership next season.

It also gives the Super League International Board the green light to launch a series of global contests at club and international level, including a 22-team World Club Championship.

The news delighted the Britsh Rugby League with their broadcast manager, Dave Callaghan, saying: "This gives us a marvellous opportunity to take the concept of Super League forward.

"We now plan a series of exciting announcements, starting next week when more details will be unveiled about the World Club Championship."

The League's chief executive, Maurice Lindsay, expressed relief at the end of the protracted court case. "It has been an enormous strain on everyone," he said. "We now have the opportunity to promote rugby league as it has never been seen before, without the nagging doubt that a court might alter things."

A fixture list incorporating matches between the 12 European Super League teams and the 10 Australian sides will be announced next Wednesday.

The ARL chairman, Ken Arthurson, said the eventual winner in Australia would now be decided by the quality of the rival competitions. "The good news is that the arguments are now confined to the football field," Arthurson said.

Wigan's quartet of players currently playing rugby union, Henry Paul (Bath), Va'aiga Tuigamala (Wasps), Gary Connolly (Harlequins) and Jason Robinson (Bath), will be back for the club's challenge matches with St Helens on Boxing Day and New Year's Day.