Championship and League 1 adopt points percentage format, Summer Bash cancelled

The club gaining promotion from the Championship to Super League in 2021 will do so via points percentage rather than the number of points won.

Championship and League 1 clubs have agreed to adopt the format introduced by Super League in 2020 to cope with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rugby Football League says postponements will be permitted if a team loses seven or more players for Covid-related reasons.

The first option will be for matches to be rearranged on a free date but, if this is not possible, the fixture will be cancelled.

The clubs have also agreed to suspend golden point extra time for drawn matches due to concerns over the welfare of players who will have gone more than a year since their last fixture and the majority of whom are part-time.

The RFL says the intention is to reintroduce golden point for the 2022 season.

The Championship season will comprises 22 rounds up to the weekend of September 19, with each of the 14 teams playing nine of the other 13 twice and the other four once.

The Summer Bash – the Championship’s equivalent of Super League’s Magic Weekend – will be scrapped in 2021 because it is expected crowds will have to be socially-distanced and therefore limited when fans are eventually permitted to return.

The Championship will return after a year’s absence over the Easter weekend in April and in the fixtures announced on Sunday, Newcastle Thunder, who were elevated from League 1 to take the place vacated by Leigh’s promotion to Super League, will kick off at Kingston Park against Widnes.

York City Knights, who have made a number of eye-catching signings from Super League, will play their first competitive fixture at the new 8,000-capacity LNER Community Stadium against Toulouse Olympique.

League 1 clubs will play a full home and away programme, producing 18 rounds of fixtures, starting on the weekend of May 8-9 with West Wales Raiders, who have declared their ambition by signing the former Wales and British Lions fly-half Gavin Henson and ex-England international Rangi Chase, facing a trip to Rochdale.

The RFL says it will work with clubs, broadcasters and streaming partners over the next week to confirm the precise scheduling of the Easter fixtures and also to work out details of the Challenge Cup ties to be played on the weekend of March 20.

Championship games that are played behind closed doors will be live and pay per view on the RFL’s Our League app and website, with home season-ticket holders given free access to their club’s live stream.

Some Challenge Cup ties will be live streamed by the BBC and Betfred with others available on Our League.

Championship opening fixtures (April 2-5):

Dewsbury v Whitehaven

Featherstone v Batley

Halifax v London Broncos

Newcastle Thunder v Widnes

Oldham v Swinton

Sheffield Eagles v Bradford

York v Toulouse

League 1 opening fixtures (May 8-9):

Coventry v Barrow

Hunslet v Workington

Keighley v Doncaster

London Skolars v North Wales Crusaders

Rochdale v West Wales Raiders

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