Mailbox: The idea of a conference system for Super League

James Gordon

Magic Weekend Toronto v Toulouse 19 May at St James Park Newcastle

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Hi James,

I read the letter published back in November with interest. I have had a similar idea that I have worked on for a couple of months.

My idea would be two conferences of ten teams, but instead of being geographically separated teams are put in to five pots of 4 teams based on a licensing system and then placed into each conference. For example, Pot 1 could be Wigan, Warrington, Saints and Leeds, Pot 2 Hull FC, Hull KR, Cas and Wakefield etc. Licences could run for 4 years and then looked at again with the worst performing teams relegated and the best performing teams from the tier below being promoted, should they meet the criteria.

You would play each team in your conference twice (home and away) and the teams in the opposite conference once. You’d play a team from each pot at home and the away. I think that this would help end fixture fatigue and create scarcity that is would be (my team, Warrington, could feasibly play Wigan for the 28th time in five years by the end of 2020).

The play-offs would be a top eight seeded one similar to the current NRL system.

Conferences of two leagues of ten below Super League could be set up to work around the same calendar to create a more standardised set up.

Here are the suggested set-ups:

Conference 1: Bradford, Castleford, Huddersfield, Hull KR, Leeds, Leigh, New York, Salford, St Helens, Toulouse

Conference 2: Catalans, Hull, London, Newcastle, Ottawa, Toronto, Wakefield, Warrington, Wigan, York

Pot 1: Leeds, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan
Pot 2: Castleford, Hull, Hull KR, Wakefield
Pot 3: Catalans, Huddersfield, London Salford
Pot 4: Bradford, Leigh, Newcastle, York
Pot 5: New York, Ottawa, Toronto, Toulouse

Let me know what you think.

Many Thanks,


Editor’s comment: We’re forever searching for the solution to a problem we’re not quite sure of in rugby league. For me, the difficulty is that we are stuck between wanting to expand the game with franchises (e.g. Ottawa, New York), but at the same time trying to compromise our existing system to fit them in. If Toronto etc are the way forward, then surely there needs to be a move for Super League to adopt a conference system that would protect the Wolfpack (and Catalans, London, Toulouse etc) from relegation; but at the same time, still giving the “heartlands” teams the chance to play in Super League, and also move up and down the league.

If Super League could be split in to conferences you could then promote and relegate from the English-based conferences, without compromising the franchises. It could start as a simple English Conference (feeding in to Championship) and Expansion Conference, but maybe expand to localise even further e.g. French conference (which would feed in to French Elite leagues) and a North American conference (when more teams are ready to join Toronto, New York, Ottawa etc).

Could look something like:

Super League British Conference: Castleford, Huddersfield, Hull, Hull KR, Leeds, Salford, St Helens, Wakefield, Warrington, Wigan.

Super League European/TransAtlantic Conference: Catalans, New York, Ottawa, Red Star Belgrade, Toronto, Toulouse, Valencia

You would have crossover games between the two conferences. There would be separate Conference titles, and an overall Super League title.

The British Championship could then feed in to the Super League British Conference with an automatic promotion/relegation spot.

Any new franchises wanting to join the party would need to demonstrate a financial commitment.

Mailbox gives you the chance to get your voice heard and start the debate with the rugby league audience. Want to be featured? Email the editor: