2021 Super League season

Super League XXVI, known as the 2021 Betfred Super League XXVI for sponsorship reasons, was the 26th season of the Super League and 127th season of rugby league in Great Britain.

Super League XXVI
LeagueSuper League
Duration25 rounds
Matches played139
Points scored5,931
Highest attendance16,319
Wigan Warriors St Helens
(20 August)
Lowest attendance1,000[A]
Broadcast partners
2021 season
ChampionsSt Helens
9th Super League title
16th British title
League Leaders ShieldCatalans Dragons
Runners-upCatalans Dragons
Biggest home winCatalans Dragons 64–0 Leigh Centurions
(30 August)
Biggest away winCastleford Tigers 6–60 Leeds Rhinos
(28 May)
Man of SteelEngland Sam Tomkins
Top point-scorer(s)
Top try-scorer(s)
Promotion and relegation
Promoted from ChampionshipToulouse Olympique
Relegated to ChampionshipLeigh Centurions

The 2021 season was originally scheduled to begin on 11 March 2021, however, on 14 January 2021, it was announced that all clubs had agreed to push the start date back by two weeks, to increase the chances of fans being able to attend matches.[1]

St Helens were the reigning champions going into Super League XXVI, after successfully retaining their title against Wigan Warriors, in the Grand Final.

Super League XXVI also saw the return of the Magic Weekend, which took place at St James' Park in Newcastle, after it was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[2]

Upon the expulsion of Toronto Wolfpack the previous season, a vacancy was available for the 2021 season. Six eligible Championship clubs; Leigh Centurions, Bradford Bulls, York City Knights, London Broncos, Featherstone Rovers, and Toulouse Olympique all applied, with Leigh being promoted following a unanimous decision by an independent panel.[3]

Catalans Dragons won the League Leaders Shield for the first time in the club's history and also became the first non English team to reach their first ever Grand Final.[4]

St Helens won their 3rd Grand Final in a row, (9th title overall), after narrowly beating Catalans Dragons 12-10 at Old Trafford on 9 October 2021.

Effects of the Covid-19 pandemic


The sport continued to be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first five rounds of matches were all played behind closed doors, and it was only from mid-May that spectators were allowed in the grounds, with attendances limited to 10,000 or 25% of the ground capacity. The Rugby Football League anticipated that COVID-19 would have an effect, and made two important changes to the organisation of the season.

Firstly, the league table would be decided by win percentage rather than competition points.[5] Secondly, a set of protocols were introduced, allowing for matches to be postponed, if a team had seven or more players from the senior squad unavailable, due to either close contact or a positive COVID-19 test.[6]

Rule changes


As in 2020, scrums will not be formed and instead, minor ruck infringements by the defending team, will result in a repeat set of six tackles for the attacking team. Dual registration will not be allowed, but loans will be, with the minimum load period reduced to fourteen days.[7]


Locations of Super League XXVI teams
  Reigning Champions
  Previous season League Leaders
Team 2020 position Stadium Capacity City/Area
  Castleford Tigers
(2021 season)
8th The Mend-A-Hose Jungle 12,000[8] Castleford, West Yorkshire
  Catalans Dragons
(2021 season)
4th Stade Gilbert Brutus 13,000[9] Perpignan, Pyrénées-Orientales, France
  Huddersfield Giants
(2021 season)
7th John Smith's Stadium 24,121[10] Huddersfield, West Yorkshire
  Hull FC
(2021 season)
6th KCOM Stadium 25,400[11] Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
  Hull KR
(2021 season)
11th Hull College Craven Park Stadium 12,225[12] Kingston upon Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire
  Leeds Rhinos
(2021 season)
5th Emerald Headingley 21,062[13] Leeds, West Yorkshire
    Leigh Centurions
(2021 season)
4th (2019 Championship) Leigh Sports Village 12,000 Leigh, Greater Manchester
  Salford Red Devils
(2021 season)
9th AJ Bell Stadium 12,000[14] Salford, Greater Manchester
    St Helens
(2021 season)
2nd (Champions) Totally Wicked Stadium 18,000[15] St Helens, Merseyside
  Wakefield Trinity
(2021 season)
10th Beaumont Legal Stadium 9,333[16] Wakefield, West Yorkshire
  Warrington Wolves
(2021 season)
3rd Halliwell Jones Stadium 15,200[17] Warrington, Cheshire
    Wigan Warriors
(2021 season)
1st (runners up) DW Stadium 25,133[18] Wigan, Greater Manchester

Fixtures and results


Super League Europe announced in February 2021 that the matches in round 2 would be played to support retired player Mose Masoe in his rehabilitation from a serious back injury suffered during a game in 2020.[19][20]

In the round 3 game on 16 April 2021 between Hull KR and Huddersfield, Ben Crooks of Hull KR, scored a try after only seven seconds, a new record, after Sam Wood missed the ball from the kick off allowing Crooks to score. Hull KR went on to win 25–24. This achievement beat not only beat the previous fastest score in Super League (St Helens' Tim Jonkers scored after 14 seconds against Wakefield Trinity during the 2002 season) but also the fastest try scored in the NRL, which was set in 2017 (Kirisome Auva'a scored after 11 seconds for Parramatta Eels against Brisbane Broncos).[21]

Golden point extra time


If a match ends in a draw after 80 minutes, then a further 10 minutes of golden point extra time is played, to determine a winner (5 minutes each way). The first team to score either a try, goal or drop goal during this period, will win the match. However, if there are no further scores during the additional 10 minutes period, then the match will end in a draw.

Game 1 (Catalans v Hull KR)


The first game to go to golden-point, was the round 1 game between Catalans and Hull KR on 27 March 2021. Catalans won the match 29–28, with a drop goal from James Maloney, after the scores were tied at 28-all after 80 minutes.

Game 2 (Hull FC v Warrington Wolves)


The round 3 game between Hull FC and Warrington on 18 April 2021, finished 14-all after 80 minutes. The game then went to extra time which saw numerous drop goal attempts by both teams. With neither team able to score any points during the extra 10 minutes, the match ended as a draw for the first time since golden point was introduced into Super League.

Game 3 (Leeds Rhinos v Wakefield Trinity)


The third game to go to golden-point, was the round 6 game between Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity on 14 May 2021. Leeds won the match 15–13, with a penalty goal from Rhyse Martin, after the scores were tied at 13-all after 80 minutes.

Game 4 (St Helens v Catalans)


The fourth game to go to golden-point, was the round 23 game between St Helens and Catalans Dragons on 4 September 2021, during the 2nd game of the day 1 fixtures, at the Magic Weekend. Catalans won the match 31–30, with a drop goal from James Maloney, after the scores were tied at 30-all after 80 minutes (Catalans scoring three tries in the final 4 minutes of the game to come back from 30-12 down). This was the first time in Super League history that a Magic Weekend game had gone to extra time (previous draws at Magic Weekend coming before the introduction of Golden Point to Super League).

Game 5 (Leeds v Hull FC)


The fifth game to go to golden-point, was the round 23 game between Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC on 4 September 2021, during the 3rd game of the day 1 fixtures, at the Magic Weekend. Leeds won the match 25–24, with a drop goal from Kruise Leeming, after the scores were tied at 24-all after 80 minutes. This was the second time in Super League that a magic weekend game had gone to extra time.

Game 6 (Warrington v Salford)


The sixth game to go to golden-point, was the round 24 game between Warrington Wolves and Salford Red Devils on 11 September 2021. Warrington won the match 20–19, with a drop goal from George Williams, after the scores were tied at 19-all after 80 minutes.

Forfeited games


In June Castleford Tigers were forced to forfeit their round 12 match against St Helens. With only fourteen senior players available due to injury and COVID-19 precautions Castleford could not raise a team and forfeited the game. The RFL described it as "an unusual range of circumstances" but as less than seven of the absences were due to COVID-19 among the senior squad the match did not meet the criteria for postponement under the RFL's COVID-19 protocols.[22] For statistical recording and league placing the match was recorded as a 24–0 victory to St Helens.[23]

Huddersfield became the second Super League team to forfeit a game in 2021 when the round 13 match against Castleford was cancelled on 4 July. Huddersfield announced that they were missing 20+ players due to COVID-19 and injury but as the number unavailable due to COVID-19 was less than the minimum seven absences required for the game to be postponed under the RFL COVID-19 protocols, Huddersfield had to forfeit the match.[24]

Regular season table


When the season details were announced the original method was for the league to revert to the normal determination, (i.e. league points won). On 7 March 2021, the Rugby Football League (RFL) announced that, league positions would be determined as they were in 2020 with league position decided by win percentage (Win percentage = number of league points ÷ number of games played x 50). If two or more teams have equal win percentages, then position will be determined by points scored percentage (points scored ÷ points conceded x 100).[25]

To qualify for the play-offs, a team had to complete 70% of their scheduled fixtures (18 matches out of 25) – unless they earned a position, in the top six through league points despite having played fewer than 18 matches.

Pos Team Pld W D L PF PA PP Pts PCT Qualification[a]
1   Catalans Dragons (L) 23 19 0 4 688 398 172.9 38 82.61 Semi-final
2   St. Helens (C) 21 16 0 5 548 229 239.3 32 76.19
3   Warrington Wolves 21 15 1 5 588 354 166.1 31 73.81 Elimination Semi-finals
4   Wigan Warriors 25 15 0 10 387 385 100.5 30 60.00
5   Leeds Rhinos 24 13 0 11 556 440 126.4 26 54.17
6   Hull Kingston Rovers 20 10 0 10 497 458 108.5 20 50.00
7   Castleford Tigers 23 11 0 12 437 552 79.2 22 47.83
8   Hull FC 21 8 1 12 409 476 85.9 17 40.48
9   Huddersfield Giants 24 9 0 15 460 516 89.1 18 37.50
10   Wakefield Trinity 24 9 0 15 482 548 88.0 18 37.50
11   Salford Red Devils 22 7 0 15 402 584 68.8 14 31.82
12   Leigh Centurions (R) 22 2 0 20 356 870 40.9 4 9.09 Relegated to the Championship
Source: [1]
Rules for classification: 1) win percentage; 2) points scored percentage (points scored divided by points conceded).
(C) Champions; (L) League Leaders' Shield Winners; (R) Relegated
  1. ^ Teams must have played at least 70% of scheduled fixtures to qualify for the play-offs.



The top 2 teams who finished first and second respectively in the regular season table (Catalans Dragons and St Helens respectively, had byes to the semi-finals. The four teams who finish third to sixth contested in two elimination finals, with the winner of those two games moving on to the semi-finals (Hull Kingston Rovers and Leeds Rhinos respectively). Catalans became the first non English team in Super League Era, to reach the Grand Final after they beat Hull Kingston Rovers 28–10 in the first semi-final on 30 September.[26]

Team bracket

Eliminators Semi-finals Grand Final
1   Catalans Dragons 28
3   Warrington Wolves 0 6   Hull Kingston Rovers 10
6   Hull Kingston Rovers 19 1   Catalans Dragons 10
2   St Helens 12
2   St Helens 36
4   Wigan Warriors 0 5   Leeds Rhinos 8
5   Leeds Rhinos 8

Week 1: Eliminators

23 September 2021
19:45 BST (UTC+01)
Wigan Warriors   0–8   Leeds Rhinos
Report (RFL)
Report (Sky Sports)
Tries: Handley 50'
Goals: Martin 51', 74' (pen)
DW Stadium, Wigan
Attendance: 7,396[27]
Referee: Robert Hicks

24 September 2021
19:45 BST (UTC+01)
Warrington Wolves   0–19   Hull Kingston Rovers
Report (RFL)
Report (Sky Sports)
Tries: Abdull 17'
Lewis 48'
Keinhorst 68'
Goals: Abdull 18', 49', 57' (pen)
Drop goals: Abdull 73'
Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington
Attendance: 6,252
Referee: Liam Moore

Week 2: Semi-finals

30 September 2021
19:45 CEST (UTC+02)
Catalans Dragons   28–10   Hull Kingston Rovers
Tries: Garcia 9'
Drinkwater 31'
Mourgue 41'
Yaha 62'
Chan 68'
Goals: Maloney 10', 32', 69', 80' (pen)
Report (RFL)
Report (Sky Sports)
Tries: Kenny Dowall 35'
Hall 75'
Goals: Abdull 76'
Stade Gilbert Brutus, Perpignan
Attendance: 11,530
Referee: James Child

1 October 2021
19:45 BST (UTC+01)
St Helens   36–8   Leeds Rhinos
Tries: Grace 6' 78'
Roby 24'
Percival 51', 73'
Naiqama 60'
Goals: Coote 14' (pen), 22' (pen), 25', 61', 74', 79'
Report (RFL)
Report (Sky Sports)
Tries: T. Briscoe   21'
Myler 38'
L. Briscoe 68'

Week 3: Grand Final

9 October 2021
18:00 BST (UTC+01)
Catalans Dragons   10–12   St Helens
Tries: McMeeken   50'
Goals: Maloney 9' (pen), 27' (pen), 51'
Report (RFL)
Report (Sky Sports)
Tries: Naiqama   13'   66
Makinson   45'
Goals: Coote 21' (pen), 67'
Old Trafford, Manchester
Attendance: 45,177
Referee: Liam Moore
Harry Sunderland Award:
Kevin Naiqama (St Helens)

Player statistics



  • Updated to match(es) played on 30 August 2021 (Round 22)



End-of-season awards


The Super League end of season awards were announced on 4 October. The award winners were:

Steve Prescott Man of Steel Nominees

Rank Player Club
1   Sam Tomkins   Catalans Dragons
2   Jordan Abdull   Hull KR
3   Jake Connor   Hull FC
4   Jonny Lomax   St Helens
5   Gareth Widdop   Warrington Wolves
Here are the 5 nominees for the 2021 Steve Prescott Man Of Steel


  1. ^ Attendance for games in France were limited to 1,000 during the latter half of the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This figure does not include games played behind closed doors during the first half of the season.


  1. ^ "2021 Season Start Date". rugby-league.com. 14 January 2021.
  2. ^ "2021 Betfred Super League Season to start 11 March". Betfred Super League. 2020-11-26. Retrieved 2020-12-09.
  3. ^ "Leigh Centurions To Play In Super League In 2021". superleague.co.uk. Retrieved 14 December 2020.
  4. ^ "Catalans Dragons become first non English team to reach Grand Final". BBC Sport. Retrieved 30 September 2021.
  5. ^ "2021 Regulatory update". www.superleague.co.uk. 7 March 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Coronavirus outbreak at Leeds Rhinos postpones Super League match against St Helens". Sky Sports. 9 June 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  7. ^ Thompson, Doug (8 March 2021). "Percentages and postponements". Rugby Leaguer & League Express. No. 9,267. p. 3.
  8. ^ "The Jungle (Wheldon Road)". castlefordtigers.com.
  9. ^ "Stade Gilbert Brutus". catalan dragons.com.
  10. ^ "Kirklees Stadium". johnsmithsstadium.com.
  11. ^ "KCOM Stadium". kcomstadium.com/.
  12. ^ "Craven Park, Hull". hullkr.co.uk.
  13. ^ "Headingley Rugby Stadium". therhinos.co.uk. 14 December 2016.
  14. ^ "AJ Bell Stadium". ajbellstadium.co.uk/.
  15. ^ "Totally Wicked Stadium". saintsrlfc.com.
  16. ^ "Belle Vue (Wakefield)". wakefieldtrinity.com.
  17. ^ "Halliwell Jones Stadium". halliwelljonesstadium.co.uk/.
  18. ^ "DW Stadium". dwstadium.com.
  19. ^ Darbyshire, Drew (19 February 2021). "Super League confirm round two schedule, fixtures to support Mose Masoe". LoveRugbyLeague. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  20. ^ Bazeley, Marc (31 March 2021). "Mose Masoe humbled by level of support from Super League and beyond after life-changing injury". Sky Sports. Retrieved 2 April 2021.
  21. ^ "Super League: Hull Kingston Rovers 25-24 Huddersfield Giants - Hull KR score seven-second try". BBC Sport. 16 April 2021. Retrieved 16 April 2021.
  22. ^ Thomson, Doug (29 June 2021). "Castleford v St Helens called off". Total RL. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  23. ^ "Super League: Castleford unable to raise team, St Helens awarded Wednesday win as Covid-19 postponement threshold not met". Sky Sports. 28 June 2021. Retrieved 30 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Cas awarded win after Giants call-off". BBC Sport. 5 July 2021. Retrieved 5 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Betfred Super League and Challenge Cup 2021 | Regulatory Update". www.rugby-league.com. RFL. 7 March 2021. Retrieved 7 March 2021.
  26. ^ "Betfred Super League | Play-off Structure".
  27. ^ "Super League play-offs 2021: Leeds Rhinos edge out Wigan Warriors 8-0 to book semis spot".