The Super 8s – Here’s a radical thought.

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Here’s a radical thought. Next year, keep the Super 8s but wipe out the points from the first 23 games of the season. Before the abuse starts, let me expand.

Maybe it is just me, but is most of the excitement and anticipation in the Super 8s currently centred on the Qualifiers? Obviously, the inclusion of the mighty Bulls will have something to do with it but there is more to it than that. There is something about wiping the slate clean and starting again at this stage. everything is possible. For very good reasons, the top teams got to carry the points over and continue with their league. But is it feasible that Hull and Catalans can pull back the six or eight point deficit on the 4th placed Huddersfield and reach the play-offs? They certainly started like they believed, with a stunning win over high flying Saints. Hull pushed Castleford very close; maybe every minute does count – but could we make it better?

Watching a game at the weekend, my wife asked why the top teams didn’t have the points wiped clean like the Qualifiers. I started to trot out the “rewarding teams for their performance over 23 weeks “ but, as she pointed out, that reward in the Qualifiers is a supposedly an advantage in the fixture list, more home games etc. Why not adopt the same for the top section? If the next seven games are simply a race to qualify for the top 4 do Leeds really need a seven point start over Castleford? Are we in danger of being like Formula 1 where the fastest cars start at the front. Surely more exciting if the fastest started at the back and used their skill and power to overtake?  While I am not talking about handicapping the likes of Leeds and Wigan, wiping the points clean could introduce that element of jeopardy that was talked about at the start of the season.

Is there a middle ground? What would the league table look like if the fixtures against the bottom four were removed? After all, this would give more weight to the teams that do well against the big boys, rather than racking up big wins against the lesser teams. I admit, I had a theory that Catalans would benefit from this move. They beat St Helens convincingly last week, and had big wins over Wigan and Warrington earlier in the season.

Super League - Perpignan, France - Home of the Catalans Dragons
Super League – Perpignan, France – Home of the Catalans Dragons

However, if I got my sums right, they would move up just one place, going above Hull if the table was based on matches against the other top 8 teams. Significantly, Wigan would leapfrog Leeds at the top of the table under this system. Saints and Huddersfiled would still make the top 4. But, hang on a minute, by stripping out matches against Hull KR, Salford, Widnes and Wakefield, two teams Hull and Castleford end up with only 14 fixtures as opposed to the others having 15. So, the magic weekend fixtures should be stripped out as well. As Wigan fans remember well, they walloped Leeds in Newcastle. Stripping this result would put the Rhinos back on top. In fact, the only positional change would be the Dragons moving above Hull on points difference. The gap between 4th and 5th would be bigger so, if its excitement we want this is not the way forward.

The table:

Played Won Drawn Lost Points Diff Points
Leeds

14

9

1

4

120

19

Wigan

14

9

0

5

32

18

St Helens

14

8

0

6

-10

16

Huddersfield

14

7

1

6

51

15

Castleford

14

6

0

8

-23

12

Warrington

14

5

0

9

-2

10

Catalans

14

5

0

9

-52

10

Hull

14

5

0

9

-78

10

In the space of a couple of days thinking about this I have basically turned 180 degrees. For next year, let’s keep the Super 8 concept but take it a stage further. Wipe the points at the end of the 23 games and have a straight race to the playoffs. Teams would still have the incentive to finish as high as possible to get the advantageous fixtures in the Super 8s. The better teams should still come through but the excitement would then match the Qualifiers. Every second would really count then. 

I told you it was radical. Do you agree?

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