Super 8s ditched in clear vote for controversial change by rugby league clubs

CLUBS have voted to ditch the Super 8s and revert to a conventional '˜one-up, one-down' system of promotion and relegation from 2019.

Leeds Rhinos'
Joel Moon is tackled by Widnes' Joe Lyons.
 Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.
Leeds Rhinos' Joel Moon is tackled by Widnes' Joe Lyons. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe.

An extraordinary general meeting of the RFL Council in Manchester voted by a clear majority to change the structure at the end of the current season.

“I think it’s very positive for rugby league,” said Wigan chairman Ian Lenagan, who was a leading figure in the Super League clubs’ drive for change.

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The move was opposed by Leeds and the majority of Championship and League 1 clubs but Wigan chairman Lenagan said the proposal was approved by a two-thirds majority, with 17 votes against.

Lenagan, who led the move to ditch the Super 8s, described the feeling as “total and utter relief”.

“We’ve put the divisions behind us now and we can get on with promoting this great game of ours,” he said.

“If you look at the fact 17 were against it, that is a big majority in favour of significant change, 66 per cent.

“I’m delighted with that. It’s a very positive vote for a positive future for rugby league and for Super League.”

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington declined to comment after the meeting, saying he would reflect on the outcome before making any comment.

Featherstone chairman Mark Campbell, a member of the Championship and League 1 advisory panel which led the opposition to the RFL proposal, expressed his disappointment over the failure of the non-Super League clubs to provide a united front but called for the game to unite.

“I’m struggling to see why they would go with the proposal to be honest but everybody has got their own circumstances,” Campbell said.

“What alarms me is that some people who might not be at these clubs in the next couple of months (are) potentially voting to shape Featherstone’s future, which is quite a worry.

“We’ve lost the vote but it’s been a good process and we’ve done all we could to give everybody the information we thought they needed to know. It’s been a fair vote and we’ve got to get behind it now.

“I do believe in rugby league we are a family. Everybody has got their own thoughts on which way they wanted to go but we all love the game and I hope we all get behind this new structure and it works out for everybody.”