The Super League table will again be determined by win percentage in 2021, as rugby league’s authorities acknowledge the possibility of postponements because of Covid-19 meaning the domestic calendar may not be completed in full.
Super League confirmed last September that win percentage would dictate the final standings in the competition following a number of cancelled fixtures upon the restart in August and on Sunday it was announced that the same regulation will be used for what is already a shortened season in 2021 across the entire professional game.
As well as Super League, the Championship and League 1 competitions, which were cancelled in 2020, will also operate on win percentage as opposed to points following a meeting of the sport’s regulatory authorities this past week.
Win points percentage, the system that led to Wigan Warriors topping the Super League table last season, is calculated by dividing the number of league points accrued – two for a win, one for a draw – by the number of matches played, before multiplying the figure by 50.
The Rugby Football League confirmed that clubs will need to fulfil a minimum of 70% of their scheduled fixtures, which broadly translates to around 18 games, in order to qualify for the play-offs unless they have already secured a place in the top six through points earned.
However, the team finishing bottom of Super League will still be relegated if they play less than the required number of matches, while the RFL board will have discretion to determine a new minimum figure if four or more clubs do not reach the 70% threshold.
Rugby league has a much smaller window to rearrange fixtures this season. The Super League season does not begin until the end of this month, several weeks later than usual, and with the World Cup this autumn the priority for the sport, it means it is likely domestic league fixtures may have to be sacrificed if Covid-19 forces postponements.
The tight schedule also means that should any club be unable to fulfil a fixture in the opening two rounds of this year’s Challenge Cup, the tie will be awarded to their opponents.
The RFL has also confirmed clubs are permitted to withdraw from a fixture if seven or more of their first-team squad are unavailable because of Covid-related reasons such as a positive test or self-isolation. Clubs can, however, still choose to go ahead with games if they wish.