February start for Super League season

St Helens will start their bid for an historic fourth straight Super League title in February.

The new season is set to kick-off on Thursday, February 10, with the Grand Final potentially taking place on Saturday, September 24.

Both are earlier than this year’s corresponding dates of March 26 and October 9 to help preparations for the delayed World Cup, which begins on Saturday, October 15.

Should the Grand Final date be inked in, England coach Shaun Wane, whose side faces France in Perpignan on Saturday, would have a final three rather than the two-week build-up which would have been the case had the tournament gone ahead as originally scheduled this year.

As with this year, when England were beaten by a Combined Nations All Stars side in Wane’s first match at the helm, a mid-season international is on the agenda, although the opposition is yet to be confirmed.

The plan is to return to a 27-round top-flight season, with four ‘loop’ fixtures and Magic Weekend accompanying the usual home-and-away matches between the twelve clubs, next year including Toulouse rather than Leigh.

This year, each club had 25 scheduled fixtures, although because of Covid postponements and cancellations, only Wigan completed a full quota.

The Championship season is expected to begin two weeks earlier at the end of January.

Meanwhile scrums are in line to return next year after an RFL board recommendation on both the professional and community game.

They have been suspended since Super League restarted in the summer of 2020.

Also recommended to be tweaked for 2022 are the ball-steal law and protocol around injured players.

This year, there was a ball-steal change in line with the NRL in which an opponent can strip the ball after a multi-player tackle if the supporting tacklers break before the ball is stripped.

In a return to law up to 2020, ball steals in any multi-player tackle will be illegal.

Players will also be required to have any injury treatment off the field in a bid to improve the flow of matches and reduce the number of clock stoppages.

The above content is also available in the regular weekly edition of League Express, on newsstands every Monday in the UK and as a digital download. Click here for more details.