The 2019 Super League season is upon us and lots has changed since Wigan were crowned champions at Old Trafford in October, especially when it comes to the league format and rules.
Below we’ll run through the biggest and most important changes, most of which have been drawn from Australia’s NRL in a bid by Super League officials to add more excitement to games and try and grow the fan base.
So, what’s new for 2019?
Source: Wigan Warriors via Facebook
Qualifiers and Relegation
First off, the Super 8s Qualifiers have been scrapped, cutting out the “mini-league” system for relegation and promotion from the league. Instead, a simpler system is being introduced, with the bottom Super League side being automatically relegated and replaced with the Championship Grand Final winners.
There are also changes in the play-offs, which are returning to the top-five system that was last used in 2001. The five-team play-offs take place over four weeks, with the team that finishes first getting a bye in the first week, while the second and third-placed teams play each other in a “Qualification Final” and fourth play fifth in the “Elimination Final”. The winner of the Qualification Final proceeds to the “Major” semi-final against the team that finished first, while the loser still progresses to the “Minor” semi-final against the winner of the fourth against fifth Elimination Final. The winner of the Major Final then proceeds straight to the Grand Final in week four, while the loser will face the winner of the Minor semi-final in the “Preliminary” final, the winner of whom then heads to the Grand Final too. Phew.
Essentially, if you finish first, you can reach the final by winning just one match, while teams in second and third can reach it by winning just two matches, but sides finishing in fourth or fifth have no room for error and must win all three matches to reach the final. Interestingly, rugby league oddsmakers have the Warriors with the third shortest odds to reach the playoffs.