RUGBY league clubs have voted to ditch the Super 8s and revert to a conventional 'one-up, one-down' system of promotion and relegation from 2019.

An extraordinary general meeting of the RFL Council in Manchester held today, Friday, voted by a clear majority to change the structure at the end of the current season.

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The move was opposed by Leeds and the majority of Championship and League 1 clubs.

The proposal was approved by a two-thirds majority, with 17 votes against.

Warrington Wolves had been one of the most outspoken clubs in favour of the change.

READ MORE > Why Warrington Wolves want to get rid of the Super 8s

Chief executive Karl Fitzpatrick said the current system, with uncertainty over fixtures in August and September, hit attendances and hospitality.

He added: "The change from Super 8s to promotion and relegation is something we have fully supported.

"The big thing for ourselves and other clubs is the need for certainty over when games are taking place, especially in August and September.

"The current structure doesn't give us that which has had a negative impact on attendances and hospitality.

"Hopefully the proposals will address those issues."

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington declined to comment after the meeting, saying he would reflect on the outcome before making any comment.

Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, who led the move to ditch the Super 8s, described the feeling as "total and utter relief".

Ralph Rimmer, chief executive of The Rugby Football League said: “Today’s announcement is about a number of things: structure simplification, funding certainty, shared responsibilities and growing the sport together with clearly defined responsibilities.

"It is vital that we now draw a line under the last period; and focus our collective energies on promoting the sport and the fantastic players on the pitch who should be the ones making the headlines.

"The whole sport has a massive opportunity in the home World Cup in 2021. All of us now need to look forward together and focus on the job in hand.”

Robert Elstone, chief executive of Betfred Super League said: “Super League is the game’s elite competition and the whole sport benefits from a strong, attractive, well-resourced and exciting Super League.

"This has been a professional and tough negotiation. We have clear accountability and duties as Super League (Europe), and the Rugby Football League as the governing body for the whole sport, which enables a sharper focus for both organisations.

"We share the same drive and commitment to progress the sport and look to 2019 with confidence and excitement.”

Separate discussions between Championship and League 1 clubs on the proposed structure of those competitions is ongoing and a further announcement will follow. 

Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell, a member of the Championship and League 1 advisory panel which led the opposition to the RFL proposal, expressed his disappointment over the failure of the non-Super League clubs to provide a united front but called for the game to unite.

"I'm struggling to see why they would go with the proposal to be honest but everybody has got their own circumstances," Campbell said.

"I do believe in rugby league we are a family. Everybody has got their own thoughts on which way they wanted to go but we all love the game and I hope we all get behind this new structure and it works out for everybody."


Super League will have 12 teams in it and everyone will play each other home and away.

There will then be the usual Magic Weekend round and then six 'loop' fixtures. It means each club will play some three times in the season.

There will then be a top five play-off rather than the current top four before the Grand Final in October.

The play-offs will be played out over four weeks, culminating in the Grand Final.

Round One in week one will feature two matches:

Elimination Final: Game A: 4th v 5th (Loser bows out)

Qualifying Final: Game B: 2nd v 3rd

The team finishing first and collecting the League Leaders' Shield will have a week's break.

Round Two in week two will feature two matches:

First Semi Final: Game C: Loser of Qualifying Final v Winner of Elimination Final (Loser bows out)

Second Semi Final: Game D: 1st v Winner of Qualifying Final (Winner goes to Grand Final)

Round Three in week three (Game E): Loser of second semi final v Winner of first Semi Final

Grand Final, week four:

Winner of Game D v Winner of Game E

Warrington Guardian:


Eleven of the 12 Super League clubs were in favour of the change.

They wanted more certainty over fixtures and some clubs were unhappy that four of the 12 teams faced a relegation battle each year in the Middle 8s.

As Warrington Wolves said, not knowing the dates of the final seven fixtures of the season was having an effect on attendances.

The concern for Championship and League One clubs was over a so-called power grab by the top Super League clubs.

Former Everton CEO Robert Elstone has been brought in to run Super League, separate from the RFL. One of his main roles will be to get a new TV deal in place from 2021.

Super League clubs also say better marketing of the sport is needed.

Championship clubs were also worried about how future TV revenues would be split.