Rules are Rules: The Super 8s points debate

Last week Widnes Vikings CEO James Rule attempted to throw a spanner in the works by claiming that during the Super 8’s points shouldn’t be carried over.

In the Qualifiers, which sees the Championship’s top four take on Super League’s bottom four, all eight teams start on zero and fight it out for promotion to the top flight for the start of the next regular season.

Of course that is the logical thing to do, as the top sides in the second tier would have an unassailable advantage over the bottom four from the division above if the points were carried over.

Rule feels that this should be adopted in the top eight battle for the play-offs and Grand Final, which has caused a huge debate, mainly because his claims are absurd.

He told BBC Radio Merseyside that the League Leader’s Shield should be awarded after 23 rounds, then the top eight clubs should start on zero and fight it out for the ultimate prize of the Super League trophy.

If Widnes were able to maintain their brilliant start to the season which saw them lead the way as early pace setters, they would be in the running for a place at the Old Trafford showpiece in October.

And if that was the case there would be no calls from anyone at the club to change the system.

Instead, their form has slipped and saw the Vikings scrape into the top eight with the top four now too far ahead to be caught as the remainder of their season will consist of ‘dead rubbers’.

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That is no-ones fault other than their own, and the sides who are in contention for a place in the play-offs are there deservedly so.

To suggest that Hull FC, who finished the regular season 14 points ahead of Widnes, should start the next phase of the season on zero points despite clinching top spot is ridiculous.

They have been the best side over 23 rounds and have fought for every one of their 34 points, so to wipe them clean and put them in a seven round shoot-out for the top four would be unfair.

Also, the regular season would suffer as clubs won’t be interested in the battle for the top, because barring the League Leader’s Shield it comes with the same reward as finishing eighth.

It would eliminate the dead rubber games, as Widnes, Wakefield Wildcats and Castleford Tigers are all arguably going to end their season in round seven of the Super 8’s.

However, it is up to the sides within the top eight to play their way into contention during the 23 round regular season.

At the beginning of the year all 12 clubs were aware of the set-up and what it would take to get to Old Trafford, so to call for a change now just because they’re out of reach makes Widnes look like sore losers.

The top flight has undergone change after change over the years to its system and set-up, and the Super 8’s has caused enough confusion without changing it again.

Whether it is the system we are going to stick by for years to come or not is up for debate, but to wipe the points clear after 23 rounds of hard work is not an option the RFL should consider.

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