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Since 1998, a play-off system has been used to determine the Super League champions. The format has changed over the years, starting with a play-off involving first five, then six teams and currently eight. The play-off series culminates in the Super League Grand Final. Use of a play-off system to decide the Championship brought back a rugby league tradition that had previously fallen out of use. The Super League Premiership, which had previously taken place between the highest placed teams in the competition, was discontinued after the introduction of the Super League play-off series. This was because its purpose had been to take the place of the previous Championship-deciding play-off system.

Super League play-offs
Founded1998
Region England
 France
Number of teams5
Television broadcastersSky Sports
BBC
2019

Contents

Current Play-Off SystemEdit

Top FiveEdit

The current play-off system, used from 2019 onwards, was also previously used between 1998 and 2001. The same system was used in the NSWRL's Sydney Competition 1973-1994, the Australian Super League in its only season 1997, the VFL, 1972–1990 and New Zealand's Lion Red Cup, 1994–1996, and Bartercard Cup, 2000-2006.

From week two on the Top five play-offs system reflected exactly the Page playoff system.

The Top Five Super League Play-Off Structure:

Week One

  • Qualification Final: 2nd vs 3rd
  • Elimination Final: 4th vs 5th
  • Bye: 1st

Week Two

  • Major Semi Final: 1st vs Winners of Qualification Final
  • Minor Semi Final: Losers of Qualification Final vs Winners of Elimination Final

Week Three

  • Preliminary Final: Losers of Major Semi Final vs Winners of Minor Semi Final
  • Bye: Winners of Major Semi Final

Week Four

  • Grand Final: Winners of Major Semi Final vs Winners of Preliminary Final

Grand FinalEdit

Stadium Location Country Highest attendance Average attendance
Old Trafford Trafford, Greater Manchester England 73,581 63,352

Previous Play-Off SystemsEdit

2002-2008: Top SixEdit

From Super League VII in 2002 until Super League XIII in 2008, a play-off series involving the top six teams was used to determine the winners the Super League champions. Excluding the Grand Final, all matches were staged at the home ground of the team that finished higher in the final league table.

A similar system was used by the Australian National Soccer League and the A-League to decide its champions. From Week Two onwards, the Top Six play-offs system reflects exactly the Page playoff system.

The Top Six Super League Play-Off Structure:

Week One

  • Elimination Semi-final A: 3rd vs 6th
  • Elimination Semi-final B: 4th vs 5th

Week Two

  • Qualification Match: 1st vs 2nd
  • Elimination Final: Winners of Elimination Semi-final A vs Winners of Elimination Semi-final B

Week Three

  • Final Qualifier: Losers of Qualification Match vs Winners of Elimination Final

Week Four

  • Grand Final: Winners of Qualification Match vs Winners of Final Qualifier

2009-2014: Top EightEdit

For the Super League XIV season in 2009, a top eight play-off system was introduced to replace the previous top six system.[1] This change coincided with an expansion of the competition from twelve to fourteen teams following the introduction of Super League licensing. The format was introduced following consultation and discussion with all 14 member clubs in Super League. The series lasted four weeks, culminating in the Grand Final[1] at Old Trafford during October.

  • Week 1
Four matches took place on Week One, effectively in two pools: the Qualifying Play-Offs and the Elimination Play-Offs.
  • Week 1: Qualifying Play-Offs
These matches involved the teams who finish in the top four.
They were:
  • 1st v 4th
  • 2nd v 3rd
The winners of these two games progressed directly to Week 3. The highest ranked winning club earned Club Call, whereby they chose their opponents in Week 3.
The losers of these two matches received another chance in Week 2 when they were at home to the winners of the Week 1 Elimination Play-Offs.
  • Week 1: Elimination Play-Offs
These matches involved the teams who finish from fourth through eighth.
They were:
  • 5th v 8th
  • 6th v 7th
The winners of both matches progressed to Week 2; losers were eliminated.
  • Week 2: Preliminary Semi-Finals
There were two matches in Week 2; the winner of each match progressed to Week 3 and the loser was eliminated.
  • The first Preliminary Semi-Final featured the highest ranked Qualifying Play-Off loser (from Week 1) v the lowest ranked Elimination Play-Off Winner (also from Week 1).
  • The second Preliminary Semi-Final featured the lowest ranked Qualifying Play-Off loser (from Week 1) v the highest ranked Elimination Play-Off Winner (also from Week 1).
  • Week 3
Week 3 also featured two matches; the winner of each match progresses to the Grand Final and the loser is eliminated.
  • Week 3: Club Call
Club Call took place following the second weekend of the play-offs and was hosted by the highest ranked winning club from Week 1.
The host club selected whom they would play in Week 3, and could only select from the winners of the two Preliminary Semi-finals (Week 2) – they could not choose the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.
The highest ranked club from the Qualifying Play-offs (Week one) were required to choose their opponents – they could not cede the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.
The team with Club Call and the other Qualifying Play-off winners from Week 1 were guaranteed home advantage in Week 3. For example, if the teams that ended the regular season in 1st and 2nd place lost their opening play-off matches, they could still find themselves playing away to the 3rd or 4th placed teams in Week 3.
  • Week 3: Qualifying Semi-Finals
  • The first Qualifying Semi-Final featured the highest ranked Qualifying Play-Off winner (from Week 1) v the team selected through Club Call.
  • The second Qualifying Semi-Final featured the lowest ranked Qualifying Play-Off winner (from Week 1) v the team not selected through Club Call.
  • Week 4: Grand Final
The two winning teams from week 3 contested the Grand Final to determine the First Utility Super League champions.
Super League 8 team play-off bracket
  Qualifying / Elimination play-offs Preliminary semi-finals Qualifying semi-finals Super League Grand Final
                                         
  QPO1:    
1       
4          PSF1:    
                    
EPO1:                    QSF1:  
5                      
8                         GF:  
            
  EPO2:       QSF2:           
6                    
7          PSF2:               
              
QPO2:                 
2         
3         
   
Key:          Losing team progressing      Winning team progressing      Winning team's progression chosen

Week 1. Qualifying/Elimination play-offs: Fixtures decided by regular reason finishing positions. Higher ranked teams play lower ranked teams. Higher ranked teams receive home ground advantage.
Week 2. Preliminary semi-finals: Fixtures decided by regular season finishing positions. Higher ranked teams play lower ranked teams. Higher ranked teams receive home ground advantage.
Week 3. Qualifying semi-finals: Winners of Qualifying play-offs play winners of Qualifying semi-finals. Fixtures decided by Club Call. Winners of Qualifying play-offs receive home ground advantage.

FAQ's:

  • Can any team have Club Call?
No. The highest ranked winning club from Week 1 will have Club Call, whereby they choose their opponents in Week 3. Only a team that ended the regular season in 1st, 2nd or 3rd can win Club Call.
  • Will the teams who finished 1st or 2nd at the end of the regular season be guaranteed home advantage in Week 3 should they progress?
No. The two highest rank teams after Week 1 (the team with Club Call and the other Qualifying Play-off winners) are guaranteed home advantage in Week 3. For example, should the teams that ended the regular season in 1st and 2nd place lose their opening play-off match, they could still find themselves playing away to the 3rd or 4th placed teams in Week 3.
  • Does the Club Call team have to choose their opponents or can they relinquish the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner?
The highest ranked club from the Qualifying Play-offs (Week 1) must choose their opponents – they cannot relinquish the responsibility to the other Qualifying Play-offs winner. In addition, they can only select from the winners of the two Preliminary Semi-finals (Week 2) – they cannot choose the other Qualifying Play-offs winner.

2015-2018: Top FourEdit

The top four play-off system was the most simple since their introduction in 1998. The top four teams qualify, the League Leaders play at home to 4th, 2nd then play at home to 3rd with the winners of both semi finals advancing to the Grand Final.

Semifinals Finals
      
1 1st
4 4th
Winner of Semi Final 1
Winner of Semi Final 2
2 2nd
3 3rd

Play-off appsEdit

Only St. Helens have competed in every play-off series since 1998.

Name Apps Years
1   St. Helens 21 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018
2   Leeds 19 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017
3   Wigan 18 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018
4   Hull F.C. 12 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2016, 2017
5   Bradford 11 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008
6   Warrington 11 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2018
7   Huddersfield 8 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
8   Castleford 7 1999, 2000, 2002, 2009, 2014, 2017, 2018
9   Catalans Dragons 6 2008, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
10   Hull Kingston Rovers 4 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
11   Wakefield Trinity 3 2004, 2009, 2012
12   London 2 2003, 2005
13   Widnes 1 2014
14   Halifax 1 1998
15   Salford 1 2006
16   Crusaders 1 2010

Bold- Won the Grand Final

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b "New top eight play-off format for engage Super League". Super League. Archived from the original on 2009-09-27. Retrieved 2009-09-19.