Why is it that British society always wants more than it currently has?
Why is it that we fail to appreciate what we have, but instead obsess about the things that we want?
And why is it that we constantly overlook positives, but instead focus on the shortcomings in life?
Let’s take the Super 8s concept as an example, a system that the sport has used for 18 months.
In that time, we have seen the prestige of the League Leaders’ Shield increase following, in my opinion, one of the greatest culminations to a season the sport has ever witnessed. The standard of the Championship has gone to an unprecedented level, with four full-time teams now occupying the competition, and Super League attendances increased from 8,041 in 2014 to 8,751 in the first season under the structure.
Yet it is suddenly not fit for purpose because the Super League table has split into three divisions of four – even though there are still 11 games of the season still to play. Not only could that change by the end of the season, but the same would have happened under any league structure.
While there are weaknesses in the sport; an overall reluctance to commit to reserve grade, the dual registration system and the overly long periods between Challenge Cup fixtures, none of those issues are the fault of the current league system we play under.
The big question of the RFL’s latest league structure is whether Championship clubs have a realistic chance of earning promotion, and only time will tell if that is the case.
With no disrespect intended, clubs like Halifax, Batley and Featherstone are not currently in a position to compete in the top flight, and nobody expected them to be.
But, if we take Fax as an example, their sixth-placed finish in last year’s Qualifiers saw them gain a huge financial boost, a £787,000 boost, to be precise. That money has been invested back into the club’s infrastructure, which has made them a much stronger, more professional organisation. Should they make the top four again, they will be in a position to improve their squad significantly, perhaps to a point that would make them viable promotion contenders.
It’s that sustainable progress that makes the Super 8s a great concept, it allows clubs to gradually improve, and when they’re strong enough to get promoted it shall happen.
It’s slightly different for clubs such as Leigh, who, given their dominance in the division, would almost certainly prefer an orthodox promotion and relegation system. However, if they are better than the clubs currently at the bottom of Super League, then they will get promoted. It guarantees us that the strongest teams will play in the strongest competition. What is wrong with that?
Let’s not forget that the previous franchise system meant a Championship club could only get promoted once every three years. If the top Championship clubs continue to improve at their current rate, I’m confident at least two clubs will get promoted in the first six years of this system.
If there is too big a gap between teams in the top tier of eight, then reintroducing the five-team play-off structure would help nullify that, but it’s time we appreciated what we’ve got.