The 2020 Super League season will be reshaped through November in response to the impact of Covid-19 cases at two clubs.
After Wigan Warriors’ shot at the League Leaders’ Shield on Friday evening, four elimination Play-Offs will determine the make-up of the Grand Final on Friday 27 November.
Following the confirmation yesterday (Monday) that Castleford Tigers are unable to play for at least another week after further positive tests, fixture planning for the remaining three rounds of the regular season was further complicated by news of a number of positive tests at Hull KR who this morning advised that they would not be able to fulfil the remaining three matches.
The Super League and RFL Boards have agreed on a revised format and Operational Rules (respectively), which will see the regular season wrapped up within the next four days, after which the top six teams in the table will qualify for the Play-Offs. The club that finishes seventh – either Salford Red Devils or Huddersfield Giants – will remain on standby.
As a consequence of the change in the Regular Season structure, the previous requirement for a Club to complete a minimum number of games (15) has been removed.
The two remaining Super League fixtures, both Round 20 matches to be played at Emerald Headingley on Friday 6 November, will see Wakefield Trinity and the Red Devils conclude their campaigns at 5.30pm on Sky Sports, which will be followed by the Warriors v Giants at 745pm, a fixture which will determine who wins the League Leaders’ Shield.
The St Helens and Catalans Dragons fixture, scheduled for Thursday 5 November in Perpignan, will be cancelled, with both teams having already qualified for the top six, and due to the imminent national lockdown and heightened concerns over international travel.
The Warriors hold top spot with a winning percentage of 75% after last Friday’s compelling derby victory at St Helens – but will face Giants knowing that defeat would hand the League Leaders’ Shield to Saints for a third consecutive season (on points difference percentage).
Wigan would actually drop to third, with Warrington having a better points difference than them.
The top two teams will sit out the first round of the Play-Offs, while those finishing third to sixth in the table on win percentage move into the elimination matches. Those games will be played on November 12 and 13.
The winners will then face first and second in the semi-finals on November 19 and 20, at home venues, to determine who plays in the Betfred Super League Grand Final at the KCOM Stadium on Friday 27 November.
Super League Head of Commercial Rhodri Jones said: “The revised format to the play-off schedule provides fans and Sky Sports with an extended series of exciting knockout matches to finish the season.
“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.”
The five clubs at the bottom of the table after this week’s fixtures will stay on their current win percentages with the remaining fixtures struck out.
Remaining fixtures – all live on Sky Sports and available by the Our League app.
Friday 6 November (Emerald Headingley Stadium).
Wakefield Trinity v Salford Red Devils – 530pm
Wigan Warriors v Huddersfield Giants – 745pm
November 12 (Venue TBC) – Play-Offs Round 1 – 7:45pm.
3rd v 6th
November 13 (Venue TBC) – Play-Offs Round 1 – 7:45pm.
4th v 5th
November 19 – Semi-Finals (Venue of 1st)
1st v lowest-placed Play-Off winner
November 20 – Semi-Finals (Venue of 2nd)
2nd v highest-placed Play-Off winner
Friday 27 November
Betfred Super League Grand Final (KCOM Stadium, Hull)