Super League has made a number of significant changes to how the 2020 season will work amid on-going Covid-19 issues, including the final table being determined by “points percentage”.
The move has been made by the RFL board to acknowledge the possibility that not all clubs will be able to play the same number of matches before the end of the regular season, at which point the top four will still compete in the play-offs and Grand Final.
Under the new rules, at the end of the regular season, the club with the highest “win points percentage” will be at the top, and the club with the lowest at the bottom. The “win points percentage” is calculated by the number of matches won by a club being divided by the number of matches played, multiplied by 100.
The changes have been introduced immediately, changing the make-up of the Super League table and putting Catalans Dragons top.
An RFL statement reads: “To qualify for the play-offs, a team must have played a minimum of 15 matches – unless they end the regular season in the top four on competition points anyway.
“This stipulation will be reviewed, and could be amended, by the RFL Board if four or more clubs do not complete 15 matches.
“The threshold for postponement of a fixture will be the non-availability of seven or more of a club’s top 25 players (on salary cap value) for Covid-related reasons – including Test and Trace (clubs can still choose to play fixtures in these circumstances).
“Following any postponement, the first option will be to rearrange the fixture for one of a number of possible windows (additional match slots) for rearranged fixtures that have been identified. If the two clubs do not have the same additional match slot available, the fixture will not be rearranged.”
The RFL has also made changes to the way Super League’s salary cap works.
Their statement continued: “To recognise the possible strains on clubs’ playing squads through the combination of positive Covid-19 tests, Test and Trace, and the number of fixtures to be played, two adjustments have been made to the salary cap regulations for the 2020 season only.
“1: Clubs can play any player on their register (including players recalled from loan to other clubs) without impacting their salary cap, provided the player has a salary cap value of £30,000 or less.
“2 – If a player who has tested positive for Covid-19 is unable to return after the minimum isolation / return to play periods, their salary cap value will be temporarily removed from a club’s aggregate liability – allowing the club to sign a replacement.”
RFL chair Simon Johnson explained: “As a board, we recognise the unique challenges this season has presented – and the need for flexibility and creativity in response. It has been an immense logistical effort for all to get the Betfred Super League season up and running – we congratulate all involved, especially the players, and we know that our supporters are enjoying the opportunity to follow regular Super League rugby, whether on Sky Sports, the BBC or the Our League app.
“Like other sports before us, and doubtless others to come, we have to recognise that this is not going to be a normal season. A number of fixtures have already been postponed, affecting some clubs more than others, and we have to allow for the possibility of that pattern continuing.
“These decisions, regarding the rearrangement of fixtures, amendments to the salary cap, and most significantly a new way of determining the league positions, are a realistic and sensible response to those issues – and we hope they will be welcomed by players, coaches, supporters and other stakeholders in that manner.
“The whole sport is doing everything in its power to deliver a Betfred Super League Grand Final later this year that will see the crowning of our 2020 champions.”
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