The RFL Board have approved a number of changes regarding fixtures, the league table and the salary cap, following discussions with the Super League Board and clubs about the specific challenges of the 2020 Betfred Super League season.
Fixtures / Table
For the first time since the introduction of the Super League in 1996, the final table will be determined by Points Percentage – acknowledging 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 clubs will qualify for the Play Offs.
These changes will be introduced immediately – and have a striking effect on the league table.
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.)
Full details of ‘Points Percentage’…
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 – these slots are listed below.
If the two clubs do not have the same Additional Match Slot available, the fixture will not be rearranged.
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.
Simon Johnson, the RFL Chair, said: “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.”
League Table and Play Offs
a. At the end of the Regular Season, the Club with the highest Win Points Percentage shall be at the top and the Club with the lowest shall be at the bottom. The Win Points Percentage shall be the number of Matches won by a Club divided by the number of matches played by the Club multiplied by 100.
b. Operational Rule B2:7 shall be further amended so that, where Clubs have an equal Win Points Percentage their relative positions shall be determined by Points Scored Percentage. The Points Scored Percentage is calculated by dividing the number of points scored by a Club by the number of points it concedes and multiplying by 100. If the positions are still equal, positions will be determined by the toss of a coin which shall be carried out at such time and place as the RFL shall direct and those Clubs concerned shall be entitled to witness the toss. NB – this drafting removes all of the usual options that would be impacted by the number of matches played.
c. Subject to the exceptions in (i) and (ii) below, to qualify for the Super League Play Offs a Club must have played a minimum of 15 Super League Matches. If a Club in the Top 4 has not played at least 15 Super League Matches, the next highest rank Club that has played 15 Super League Matches shall take part in the Play Offs (with all Clubs finishing below the removed Club moving up one place to determine the order of Clubs for the purpose of home advantage etc).
i. The above shall not apply and a Club that has played less than 15 Matches shall qualify for the Super League Play Offs where it is in the Top 4 of the League Table based on League Points (with its ranking in the Play Offs also determined by its League Table position based on League Points).
ii. The above shall not apply where 4 or more Clubs in the Super League have played fewer than 15 Matches. In such circumstances, the RFL Board shall have discretion to determine whether there should be a minimum of Matches required to have been played to qualify for the Play Offs and, if so, what that number shall be.
Additional Match Slots
September 17/20 (for clubs not in the Coral Challenge Cup Quarter Finals)
October 3 (for clubs not in the Coral Challenge Cup Semi Finals)
October 18/19 (for clubs not in the Coral Challenge Cup Final)
The following adjustments to be made to the Salary Cap Regulations.
a. A Club shall be able to play any Player who is already on the Club’s Register (or employed by the Club but who has been (in the 2020 Season) or is currently on loan to another Club) as at 2 September 2020 without that Player increasing the Club’s current Aggregate Liability provided that this dispensation shall only apply in relation to Players with Salary Cap Values of £30,000 or less.
b. Where a Player has tested positive for Covid-19 and is unable to return to play in the minimum time set out in the Covid-19 Medical Standards (“Player A”), the Club shall be entitled to apply for dispensation for his Salary Cap Value to be temporarily removed from the Club’s Aggregate Liability (and accordingly for the Club to be able to sign additional Players up to this amount (“Covid Replacement Player(s)”). If Player A is subsequently named in a 21 Man Squad, then any Covid Replacement Player(s) may not be named in that 21 Man Squad and may not play for the Club again (unless either: (i) Player A does not in fact play in the Match; or (ii) the Club otherwise has space on its Aggregate Liability). The End of Season Signing Deadline will not apply to any signings (Contract or Loan) made pursuant to this dispensation and nor will the cap on Player Registrations.