Super League’s return on August 2nd, which was revealed on Friday, is still clouded by some uncertainty, with a number of unanswered questions.
As a guide to League Express readers, here is a breakdown of what we do know, and what we don’t know, so far.
WHAT WE DO KNOW
Super League will return on Sunday, August 2nd with a triple-header at an unspecified location, although with Headingley as the most likely venue.
Hull KR will take on Toronto (1.00pm), St Helens will play Catalans (4.15pm) and Huddersfield will take on Leeds (6.30pm).
A full round of fixtures will take place on the weekend of August 8th/9th.
Another 15 rounds of action will take place, meaning that this year’s competition will be 22 rounds long. Every club will play every other club twice.
The play-offs will now only consist of four teams, rather than five, which will cut out two rounds of fixtures.
WHEN WILL THE FIXTURE LIST BE REVEALED?
The fixtures are due to be announced Monday, July 6th.
Clubs were informed at Friday’s meeting that a full reveal will be confirmed once final logistics are sorted.
As it stands, five UK clubs – Huddersfield, Leeds, Salford, St Helens and Warrington – have applied to host games. However, these locations must meet a set of criteria and Super League has yet to inspect them all to ensure they satisfy those criteria. While all are expected to pass, Super League has decided not to announce the venues, including the inaugural triple-header, until they have given their approval.
ARE ONLY SELECT VENUES HOSTING GAMES?
Clubs were told to express an interest in hosting games and, should they do so, they would have to pass a number of key tests in order to be able to do so.
The measures included biosecurity measures, suitable facilities to host several games and testing procedures.
Some clubs aren’t able to do so as they don’t own their own grounds and the landlords aren’t willing to let them play games under the current circumstances. Others don’t have adequate dressing-room facilities to host games.
There are no incentives to hosting games other than the ability to play at their home venue. Financially, the hosts will work on a breakeven basis.
WILL THERE BE RULE CHANGES?
A number of new rules have been proposed, including no scrums, the ‘six again’ rule and the removal of golden point. A decision on the interpretation of the rules will be finalised at next Monday’s RFL board meeting.
WILL THERE BE RELEGATION?
It still hasn’t been decided. The uncertain nature of the Championship’s future means a final outcome has yet to be decided. Super League retains a strong stance that there shouldn’t be relegation, but the RFL has the final say.
That is a decision that could be made at the RFL board meeting on Monday.
WHEN WILL THE SEASON FINISH?
The Grand Final is due to take place on the weekend of November 28/29th. Super League only went as far as saying it would take place late in November. The reason for that was because the availability of Old Trafford, as well as the question of having crowds present, is still uncertain.
The 2020/21 Premier League season has been delayed and the fixture list for next season isn’t yet drawn up, so Manchester United can’t say whether the ground will be available.
United have always played away from home the weekend of the Grand Final, but logistical challenges mean they can’t commit to that yet. However, all being well, the Grand Final will take place on Saturday, November 28th.
WHY ARE SOME CLUBS NOT HOSTING GAMES?
For a variety of reasons. Some may not have the facilities to host more than two teams or ensure a safe environment while social distancing remains in place. For others, their arrangements with Councils who own the ground, or the fact they ground share with football clubs, has made it impossible for them to host games.
WHAT ABOUT THE CHALLENGE CUP?
The Challenge Cup will take place, but how it returns is unclear.
There are five non-Super League clubs in the last 16 of the competition. If their league campaigns are null and void, it is unlikely they will want to return for potentially one match.
If so, it’s unclear what will happen. There is a suggestion the Super League teams taking on Championship and League 1 clubs will receive a bye to the quarter-finals.
WHEN WILL THE 2021 SEASON START?
It will start Thursday, February 18th. That is two weeks later than usual.