Coronavirus: Super League cuts regular season short and revises play-off format

By Sports Desk November 03, 2020

The Super League regular season has been cut short and a revised play-off format introduced after further positive coronavirus tests at Castleford Tigers and Hull KR.

After being informed that Castleford would be unable to play for another week and that Rovers could not fulfil their final three fixtures, a decision to wrap up the regular season this week was taken.

The top six clubs will now qualify for the play-offs, with the team that finishes seventh – Salford Red Devils or Huddersfield Giants – remaining on standby in case of further planning issues caused by COVID-19.

Super League has removed the previous requirement for a team to complete a minimum of 15 games, meaning Catalans Dragons will be able to take part in the knockout stages.

The teams that finish in the top two positions will sit out the first round of the play-offs, which are scheduled to begin on November 12, with the Grand Final taking place at the KCOM Stadium in Hull on November 27.

The final game of the regular season will see Wigan Warriors attempt to clinch the League Leaders' Shield against the Giants on Friday, knowing that defeat will hand the trophy to St Helens for a third straight year. Salford play Wakefield earlier in the day.

Saints' meeting with the Dragons, which was slated to take place on Thursday, has been cancelled due to the imminent national lockdown in the United Kingdom and heightened concerns over international travel.

Super League head of commercial Rhodri Jones said: "Nothing has been predictable in this 2020 season and we hope players, supporters and the media will appreciate why we have made this change.

"We believe this revised structure provides the best and fairest way to ensure the two most deserving teams reach the Grand Final.

"I'm sure everyone will be excited about five huge games, set to deliver an even more exciting climax to the 2020 season."

Related items

  • Bennett steps down from Queensland role to focus on Rabbitohs Bennett steps down from Queensland role to focus on Rabbitohs

    Wayne Bennett will not continue as coach of Queensland for the 2021 State of Origin series so he can focus on his job at South Sydney Rabbitohs. 

    Bennett returned to lead the Maroons in October of last year, taking on the role after Kevin Walters had stepped down following his appointment at Brisbane Broncos. 

    Queensland went on to win 2-1 - beating New South Wales 20-14 in the deciding game in Brisbane - but the search is now on for a new coach ahead of this year's series.

    "We were really grateful that Wayne made himself available to help us out last year," Queensland Rugby League managing director Robert Moore said in a statement. 

    "We understand the decision Wayne has made in his last year of his contract with the South Sydney Rabbitohs, as he's eager to concentrate his efforts on them because they've been so close [to a premiership]," Moore said. 

    "With Wayne's decision, we've now moved to a process to consider the next appointment and we anticipate that process will be completed early this year." 

    The Origin games are scheduled to take place in June and July, having been shifted to after the NRL season last year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Jamaican-born Abevia McDonald signs one-year deal with London Skolars Jamaican-born Abevia McDonald signs one-year deal with London Skolars

    Jamaican-born Rugby League player Abevia McDonald has signed a one year contract with English League One outfit London Skolars. He is now the second Jamaican domestic player to sign a professional contract following the footsteps of Nathan Campbell who signed for the Toronto Wolfpack in 2016.

    A former student of Excelsior Community College in Kingston, McDonald had signed a first-team contract with the team in 2019 but saw no action as the League One or the Championship were cancelled because of the Covid-19 Pandemic.

    He began playing while at EXED in 2013 and developed into a quality player who helped the Red Sharks to the National Club title in 2018. It would be his last game in Jamaica as he migrated to England shortly thereafter. He eventually joined the Skolars Reserve team and scored against Super League outfit Wigan Warriors.

    He would go on to score more than a dozen tries for the team which led to his first-team signing in 2019.

    "His journey is yet another example of inspiration for the local rugby league community. We know that some domestic players have the ability to crack semi-pro teams in the UK if afforded the opportunity,” said Jamaica’s Head Coach Romeo Monteith.

    “We have and have had some quality players come through our local systems. He impressed me from the first time I saw him play, he has blistering speed and it's good to see him stick with the game and push on to where he is today."

  • Leeds Rhinos captain Ward retires due to concussions Leeds Rhinos captain Ward retires due to concussions

    Former Leeds Rhinos captain Stevie Ward has retired from rugby league at just 27 due to the effects of concussions.

    The forward, twice a Grand Final winner and a three-time Super League champion overall, sustained head injuries in January and February last year.

    Ward says he still suffers daily symptoms and that the concussions "completely derailed plans and my ambitions".

    He told Sky Sports News that he has suffered "one of the hardest years I've ever experienced".

    Ward said: "[I have experienced] symptoms like migraines every day, balance and dizziness issues, sensitivity to light, screens and slurring my speech sometimes."

    In a statement confirming his retirement, Ward said: "I have come to the conclusion, after over 11 months of severe symptoms, that I need to give this injury the respect and time it deserves and cannot put my health and brain to any further risk and detriment.

    "I love the game of rugby league. I am immensely proud to have competed on some of the biggest stages next to childhood heroes and test myself to the absolute limit while feeling the incredible buzz from the Leeds fans after being one myself as a youngster.

    "I thank every player that I have played with and against, and I am especially grateful for the incredible friendships the sport has given me.

    "It is fair to say that my career has been only partly what I envisioned as a young fan stood in the South Stand, but I can honestly say it has surpassed my expectations in terms of how it has shaped me to become the person I am."

    Discussions over the long-term effects of head injuries in rugby and football have risen to the fore again in recent weeks.

    Temporary substitutions for head injuries are being trialled in some football competitions, including the FA Cup and Premier League. In rugby union, former World Cup winner Steve Thompson, who has early onset dementia and cannot recall winning the global trophy in 2003, is one of eight players reportedly planning to take legal action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.