I think it's fair to say the top-8 system never had the cachet, or the crowd drawing power, of the old top-4 system. It took a long time for the Premiership/GrandFinal to recover the lost ground and give us two showpiece games a year again.
On a related note, does anybody have a definitive answer as to why the two division format used from 1962 to 1964 was abandoned so quickly, or indeed why it was introduced in the first place?
I remember those two seasons very well. Keighley came second to Hunslet that year and won promotion. The only home loss was to Rochdale for whom Joe Levula scored the winning try. This was the first inkling of the potential of the Pacific islanders as RL stars.
Swinton were the 1st Division winners in both seasons. One of the years they had the worst winter for as century or something similar and hundreds of fixtures were postponed giving a huge backlog.
From memory, I think the Division 2 clubs lost the big attendances they used to get under the old system with visits from all the big boys in their county every season and the winner takes all nature of the 1st division meant the loss of the very lucrative top championship final and semi finals playoffs.
I don't remember exactly why they discontinued it but those facts were part of it.