WE are only two weeks into this year’s event and already there are widespread calls for the Super 8s to be axed completely in 2017.
As much as there have been issues with it, that simply cannot happen; if people think the sport is a laughing stock now imagine what will be said if the much-hyped “new era” was over in just two lousy seasons.
Admittedly, the sport has a tendency to disband ideas just as quickly as they have dreamed them up,
However, in this instance, the Super 8s have to be given time to establish themselves and not be dismissed as swiftly as you can say “Exiles”.
In all fairness, and for all the outcry on social media, there is no real chance the governing body will bow to pressure and make any sort of alterations to the system.
Rightly so. Yes, it is unfortunate in many regards that there is already such a chasm between the top four and the quartet below.
It does look like, barring some sort of miracle, the four currently occupying the semi-final spots will be there still in five matches time.
But to change the mechanics of the season to – hopefully – prevent such an outcome is pointless and would do more damage than good.
It goes without saying that any sort of format that is chosen to decide the outcome of champions and, essentially, losers, will upset somebody and rugby league has messed around with it all too many times already to do so again now.
The RFL did say that the current format would be given a decent stint to establish itself and grow and, it is safe to say, they meant at least three years if not five.
Plenty of people are suggesting the top-five play-off system was, by far, the best and I would be inclined to agree.
But if that was the case, it should have been put in place in readiness for the “new era” kick-off last year.
It wasn’t. So let’s get on with what everyone did agree and sign off on.
The argument – if you can even call it such – that the top eight should all be wound back to zero points after 23 rounds is utterly nonsensical.
Hull FC, in this instance, have battled through 23 games to get to the top of the pile, leaving them in fine position to push on and reach Old Trafford for the first time since 2006.
For those pushing the zero points theory, Hull would suddenly find themselves level with eighth-placed Wakefield Trinity Wildcats as the Super 8s begin; what sort of a reward is that?
We did have that system once but it was called the “Premiership”.
And it was an end-of-season competition also ending at Old Trafford but the title had already been decided after the weekly rounds.
As nice as it would be to see that trophy brought back into the mix – wasn’t it great when there was four domestic pieces of silverware to aim for? – it will never happen now as it would mean the Grand Final becoming redundant.
I think everyone, though, is in agreement that after 19 years that is now here to stay.
Oh, hang on a minute, who’s that muttering about ‘first past the post’...?