Russell Carlton – 2015 RFL Policy Review: I Have Some Questions!

I’ve had some questions bubbling away inside me for some time now, and nobody seems to answer me, and this morning, for no particular reason I can think of, they seem to have begun to boil over. I just want to sit down and watch TV with a cup of tea, but my head is too wobbly with frustration to let me.

Today I have some basic bloody questions about this Option C proposal from the RFL that I’m struggling to get any answers to.

First of all – let’s make sure I understand what’s been proposed.

There’s the first two, easily understood, straightforward options that the RFL have spat out as if to show they’re open to them, then shown absolutely no interest in speaking about them since.

a) 12 team Super League. Re-instate Promotion and Relegation with Championship.

b) 10 team Super League 1, and 10 team Super League 2. Promotion and Relegation between them, membership of the leagues as a whole still on licensing system.

Then there’s option C, which they laid out in more detail, saw it get almost unanimously rejected, modified it, proposed it again, and set about a lengthy campaign to see that it happens.

Basically Option C is what the RFL intend to happen, the only question is how many people they can persuade it’s a good idea before they force it on us anyway.

This is, in as much detail as I can find, how I understand Option C:

Super League 1: 12 Teams
Super League 2: 12 Teams

Each team plays each other home and away / plus magic weekend. 23 league games.


Super League A: 8 Teams (Top 8 from SL1)

Super League B: 8 Teams (Bottom 4 from SL1, & Top 4 from SL2) Super League C: 8 Teams (Bottom 8 from SL2)

Each team plays each other once – in some arbitrary arrangement of home & away fixtures.

Then – at the end of the season:

Some kind of Play-offs happen to decide the Grand Final winner from Super League A

The top 4 in Super League B join Super League 1 for the following season. The bottom 4 in Super League B join Super League 2 for the following season

Nobody has any bloody idea what the Super League C teams are doing; they seem to just start over again in Super League 2 the following season.

I have a headache already – and I haven’t even started with my questions!

Ignoring the complicated and confusing season structure which will alienate most potential new fans – let’s just accept that as the Rugby League way – I need some answers to the following, and I’m tired of waiting for them.

Q1/ After the split. What happens to the points won in the first section of the season – are they kept, or are they dropped for a fresh start?

If it’s the first, and all teams keep their points, then the middle section – Super League B, will begin with the 4 teams dropped from Super League 1 at a massive disadvantage to the 4 teams lifted from Super League 2, and a mountain to climb if they hope to preserve their top flight place for the following season.

If it’s the second, then all the teams, but most prominently the 8 teams in Super League A are given virtually no reward whatsoever for the performances and results gained over the majority of their season. The moment they secure top 8, they’d be better of fielding a reserve side and getting their first team fit for after the split.

Q2/ Why should Super League C bother completing their fixtures after the split?

They can’t win anything, they can’t be promoted, they can’t be relegated. They’re just seeing out the season for the sake of it. For pride at best. Attendances will drop, players will either get injured for no reason, or avoid games/challenges to avoid injury. You’ll just have 8 squads wondering what the point of getting up each morning is. Not only is that bad for morale, and mental health, but it’s pretty bloody miserable to watch too.

Q3/ How can you let it be so ridiculous?

A team could finish top of the league after 23 games. Then finish top of the league again after another 7. Then lose in a one off knock-out game and win nothing. While another can finish in 8th place after 23 games, that’s 2/3 of the way down the league, then finish – let’s say, optimistically, 4th – half way down the league after another 7 – then find an end of season run of form and take the Grand Prize with just 2 or 3 victories?

Conversely, a team in the lower division could finish the main leg of the season in 5th place, and immediately have the rest of their season resigned to the scrap-yard.

I’m all for innovation, and I actually like they idea of anything up to 4 teams going up and down between two divisions, assuming all other things (salary caps and money distributions) are equal, it could be a great way of balancing out the teams, providing season-on-season variety, and increasing the number of top-flight professional teams in the country.

But please, I beg you, consider these questions before my head falls off.

Thanks, I feel better now.

You can read more from Russell at his blog and follow him on Twitter at

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