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League Leaders or Grand Final?


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Yesterday I had the pleasure of watching York Valkyrie win the Women's Super League for the second year running and without losing a game. (With all respect to Huddersfield that is not likely to change in the last game.) Considering their nearest challengers St Helens and Leeds have lost two and three games respectively (and still have to play each other again) I consider that this is an achievement worthy of champions.

Unfortunately the RFL does not agree and dictates that they now have to beat two of their opponents again in order to be named champions.  The play-off system was designed to settle leagues where the teams do not all play each other the same number of times (eg Men's Super League or some cricket competitions), not a league where everybody plays each other home and away. Can you imagine saying to Manchester City, "No, you didn't win the Premier League. You now have to beat two teams that finished below you in one-off games." There would quite rightly be uproar!

I concede a) I am a York supporter, b) We knew the rules of the competition before it started, c) The play-offs are designed to add entertainment and excitement (and income?) at the end of the season, but I cannot help thinking that natural justice is not best served here. York pride themselves on their consistency (for example I cannot imagine them fielding a team as weak as Leeds did in losing to Huddersfield two weeks ago) but this seems to be a quality not particularly prized by the RFL. What is the status of the League Leaders' Shield anyway?

It would be interesting to hear what others think. Personally, I sincerely hope that the Valkyrie can win the Grand Final for the first time. Leeds won it last year from third place. Were they really worthy champions? 

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Oh Christ, not this again?

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"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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21 minutes ago, BroncoFan said:

They won’t have to beat both Saints & Leeds again, it will be only one of them.

York will play Wigan in one semi final, Saints v Leeds in the other.

He says they will have to beat 2 of the teams who finished below them, he doesn't say it will be Leeds and Saints..

If the Valkyrie get to the final, they should have home advantage as reward for winning the league. I hope the RFL don't decide to play the game at St. Helens like they did last year.

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30 minutes ago, HaxbyKnight said:

He says they will have to beat 2 of the teams who finished below them, he doesn't say it will be Leeds and Saints..

If the Valkyrie get to the final, they should have home advantage as reward for winning the league. I hope the RFL don't decide to play the game at St. Helens like they did last year.

I quite agree, but the RFL are not renowned for their common sense or fairness. For example, Leeds' "neutral" Cup semi-final was at Headingley.

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Rules were in place before the season started

Finishing top is nice but does not entitle them to be called Champions

Hudds & Cas both finished top of the league in the men’s game but weren’t champions

York need to prove they have the bottle in 2 more big games

They failed in the GF last year & CC this year

Saints for me this year 

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I suppose it's a novelty to see the annual "pull up the gangplank" thread being started in a different forum, but that's about the only original element.

"We are easily breakable, by illness or falling, or a million other ways of leaving this earthly life. We are just so much mashed potato."  Don Estelle

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Of course everybody knew the rules before the season started, but across the season, the Valkyrie have been the most consistent team in the league. The best teams win the league, to win a knockout game needs a bit of luck. The rfl have still to come to terms with the fact that Saints and Leeds are not the only teams in the WSL. It will  be interesting to see where the final is played, because they cocked it up last season. 

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  • 2 weeks later...

York Valkyrie played 9, lost NONE.

Saint Helens played 9, lost THREE.

Leeds Rhinos played 9  lost THREE.

I rest my case. If Valkyrie do not win the Grand Final it will be an absolute travesty. If Saints or Leeds win it it will be a complete embarrassment. 

After next Sunday's matches I expect Valkyrie to win the league by FIVE points in a 20-point season - a 25% margin. This is the equivalent of a football club in the EFL winning their league by 34 points! And yet it seems that the majority of rugby league "fans" are still happy for the championship to be decided by a one-off play-off game. I may be in a minority but I just don't get this.

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10 hours ago, RigbyLuger said:

The Women's Super League, since formation in 2017, has always had a Grand Final/play-off system. Long before York were good! 🙂

Yes, I know but does that make it fair? There is some justification in men's Super League because the loop fixtures and Magic Weekend cause an imbalance, but that doesn't apply in the women's game.

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