Super League to revert to one up, one down promotion

Super League has operated a 'qualifiers' system in recent years
Super League has operated a 'qualifiers' system in recent years

The Rugby Football League proposal to revert to a 'one up, one down' promotion/relegation system from 2019 has been accepted, the governing body has announced.

Clubs met in Manchester on Friday for an EGM where a vote was passed, said to be 70-30 in favour of the change.

Wigan Warrior owner and chairman Ian Lenegan said after the vote: “We can now start to move forward. It’s a vote for Super League and a vote for Rugby League."

This means the end of the Super 8's format, which was introduced in 2015.

The controversial and complex system involved a splitting of the top two divisions - Super League and the Championship - following the completion of the regular season home-and-away fixtures - creating two new groups/leagues of eight.

These teams then play an additional fixture against each of the seven other teams in their division to determine the final standings.

So for Super League, after the regular season the top eight clubs would go into one group, and then fight it out to win Super League. Clubs positioned nine, 10, 11 and 12 would then go into a second group - known as the qualifiers - mixing in with the top four clubs from the Championship - the second tier of the professional game.

Then regarding promotion to Super League the top three clubs in this second group at the completion of this stage would be assured a place in the top flight for the following season.

In addition to this, then the fourth and fifth placed clubs would play a final play-off game. Here the winner would also go into Super League, with the loser positioned in the Championship for the following campaign.

Stability, unity and vision

This system was created with the aim to add drama to the game and ensure there was something riding on each game all the way to the end of the season. It was also reasoned playing more league games in the second stage would provide a better opportunity for Championship clubs to earn promotion.

However the format has proved too complex for many, not delivered the hoped excitement or interest, and has generally proved unpopular with coaches, players, fans and media.

This new change means a move back to the simple system where the bottom club of the Super League at the end of the season will be relegated to the Championship, while the winner of the Championship will be promoted to European Rugby League's elite league.

Hull FC’s Chief Executive, James Clark, said: “This is a significant and very positive day for rugby league which will reinvigorate our ambition for the sport and provides much required stability, unity and vision.

“We can now concentrate our time, energy, resources and finance on showcasing what our fantastic sport is all about and ensure Super League can be the premier competition we all believe it has the potential to be.”

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