Super 8s to be axed as traditional promotion structure set for return

The Super 8s will be scrapped at the end of 2018 as rugby league returns to a one up, one down structure from 2019.

The decision has been reached after clubs voted in favour to dump the current structure after just four years.

However, it will not have any implications on promotion and relegation from Super League this year, with any sides promoted to the top tier retaining their right to feature in the competition, while any side relegated will participate in the Championship.

Rob Elstone, speaking at his unveiling as Super League chief executive, confirmed the news alongside the owners of Wigan, Warrington and St Helens, Ian Lenagan, Simon Moran and Eamonn McManus.

Super 8s was first introduced in 2015, with the structure bringing a return to promotion/relegation after six years of licensing. In that time, Hull KR have suffered promotion and relegation, with Leigh exchanging places with them.

But from 2019 the sport will return to the structure similar to the one used between 2002-2008, with the final formalities now in place between Super League and the RFL.

“We’ve had a number of discussions, very constructive discussions, with the RFL in recent months,” said McManus.

“What we now have to do is go through the right contractual machinations to conclude a new structure on an agreed basis between the board of Super League and the board of the RFL to put in place next year, and that will involve the promotion and relegation of one club.”

Lenagan added: “As far as we are concerned we’re planning for it to take effect from the beginning of 19 and we don’t have any reason to think that will not occur.”

All 12 Super League clubs have backed the sport to retain promotion and relegation, but it has been decided that a return to a more traditional structure will reduce jeopardy for as many clubs.

McManus said: “The agreed position of Super League is that we do not think the Super 8s, and we gave ourselves a period of three to four years to review it, we do not believe it is delivering the right commercial returns and the risks are too large a portion of Super League from day one with respects to relegation, is too great.

“It dissuades investment to the levels we are looking to obtain. That’s the clear, absolute view of Super League.”

Lenagan also moved to dispel suggestions Super League was not willing to look after the game beyond the top tier.

“We have committed to the high figures of representation to Championship and Championship 1, at least until the end of current television deal which has three-and-a-half years to go. Not a penny less than currently. That’s our commitment to the rest of the game.”