Top five play-offs

A play-off structure involving the top five teams was used to determine the winners of the Super League competition in British rugby league from 1998 until 2001. A top six play-off system was then introduced. Apart from the Grand Final all matches are staged at the home ground of the team placed higher in the final league table.

The same system was used in the NSWRL's Sydney Competition 1973–1994, the 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 reflects exactly the Page playoff system.


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

This is considered a good playoff system, as while it allows fifth place to take part, it is incredibly difficult for fourth and them to be crowned champions as they must beat every other team at some point.

The only NSWRL team to win the premiership from 5th was Brisbane in 1993.

In elite Australian Rules Football, the only team to win from fifth under this system was Norwood in the SANFL in 1984. No AFL/VFL team won from fifth under this format (1972–1990), and no WAFL team has won under this format as of 2019.

If all matches have the same odds to win, then Seed 1 has 37.5% to be champion; Seed 2 and 3 have 25% to be champion; Seed 4 and 5 have 6.25%;

Seed 1 has two chances to reach the final, and only needs to win 1 match to clinch it. It is only eliminated before the final if loses against both finalists, and doesn´t win any match.

Seed 2 and 3 need to win 2 out of 3 matches to reach the final (they are like in a best-of-3 semi-final, but with different opponents in any round).

Seed 4 and 5 need to win all other 4 opponents without loss to be crowned. Any loss means its elimination.


The 1994 NSWRL finals occurred as follows:

  Qualifying/Elimination Final Major/Minor Semi Final Preliminary Final Grand Final
1   Canterbury 19  
      Canberra 18         1   Canterbury 12
2   North Sydney 12       Canberra 22   3   Canberra 36
3   Canberra 26         North Sydney 9  
  North Sydney 15
4   Manly 4     Brisbane 14  
5   Brisbane 16

See alsoEdit