Harsh to relegate any team from Super League this season, says Tony Smith

Leigh Centurions, who were fast-tracked from the Championship at less than three months’ notice to take the place of Toronto Wolfpack, are currently six points adrift at the foot of the table after losing all 13 matches in the first half of the season.

But they have seen their last three fixtures called off due to Covid-19 outbreaks at their scheduled opponents with the threat of more disruption to come.

So far 19 Super League matches have been called off and only four of them have been re-arranged, leading to the prospect of a lop-sided final table.

Smith’s Hull KR team stayed up despite finishing bottom in 2020 and he believes it would fair to suspend relegation for the second successive season, although he says promotion could still take place.

“I would think it would be harsh to relegate anybody on such a disrupted season,” Smith told the BBC’s 5 Live Rugby League podcast.

“I think there’s room for a promotion, I’d like to think there’s a way of bringing somebody in, maybe two, that could work.

“I would certainly hate to be involved in a club that got relegated on such an uneven season.

“We’re going to end up playing Catalans, the league leaders, three times but we may not play some of the lesser teams once.

“We’re not out of it entirely but, if I was in Leigh’s position, I’d be mortified that we actually got relegated.”

READ: No plans in place to change promotion and relegation from Super League

Smith, an Australian who has spent virtually his entire coaching career in Super League after joining Huddersfield in 2000, is worried about the future of the game, which he says is in “its least healthy state” in his time in England.

His comments come at a time when officials from Super League and the Rugby Football League are in talks over a possible re-alignment following the breakaway of 2018.

“I don’t want to be all doom and gloom but I’m a little bit worried about all different factions within the game,” Smith told the podcast.

“We’re not all joined up, we need strong leadership, something needs to happen.

“I love my sport, I’m a bit over protective of it, but it’s probably at its least healthy I’ve seen it in my 21 years here.

“We’re not all joined up at the moment, we’re fragmented, it’s almost us against them when it comes to administrators and players and coaches.

“I don’t think at the moment players feel they are valued and it creates a real distrust. A lot of us in the game have got our own agendas and we need some real leaders to stand up and it needs to happen soon.”


  1. I agree wholeheartedly with Tony Smith, he is saying what many of us are feeling, and we are all seeing in front of us! The ridiculous World Cup situation with Australia beggars belief, they’ve athletes in the Olympics, playing cricket, rubgy union, and other sport’s internationally, the UK has a very high uptake of the vaccine, among those vaccinated they’re seeing less serious symptoms, and better recovery, if they do catch it, yes it’s still a dog’s breakfast, but strides in the right direction are being made! The sport at home, needs a total revamp, starting by reacting less and acting more would be a start. For instance why didn’t they protect the Super League branding? Other sports use it with abandon. Dealing with the RFU, a zero tolerance policy, they wanted to use the term Rugby World Cup, we had it protected, and gave it away for a pittance, we’ll become the “game of 13” if they aren’t more proactive! Sky revenues have halved while NRL income doubled, and dwarfs what the RFL get. Adverts for BBC and Sky rarely if ever include shots of League in any Summer of Sport advertising. After Covid I wonder if the amateur game will even survive. It’s so bad I can see some Super League, and almost all Championship clubs returning to semi professional status. Change is needed urgently, but the vested interests of certain clubs hold the balance of power, until that’s removed things cannotbehin to change.

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