Rugby league set for big changes

OCTOBER 2013: Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin, Shaun Wane and Blake Green celebrate with the trophy after winning the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, Manchester. PIC: PA

OCTOBER 2013: Wigan Warriors' Sean O'Loughlin, Shaun Wane and Blake Green celebrate with the trophy after winning the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford, Manchester. PIC: PA

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Super League clubs have given the go-ahead for a radical overhaul of domestic rugby league.

Representatives of the 14 current Super League clubs voted at a meeting in St Helens to cut the division to 12 at the end of the 2014 season, ratifying an earlier decision to scrap the much-maligned licensing system in favour of a return to automatic promotion and relegation.

The clubs also agreed to implement a convoluted proposal from the Rugby Football League which would see two divisions of 12 teams divide into three of eight two-thirds of the way through the 2015 season.

The top eight in Super League will then play off as normal for a place in the Grand Final, with the bottom four joining the top four from the Championship to play each other for the right to compete in the top flight in 2016.

Friday’s decision, at a meeting chaired by RFL chairman Brian Barwick, brings to an end months of uncertainty and bitter wrangling, although it will need to be ratified by the RFL board of directors next week.

Barwick, who is also chairman of Super League (Europe), said: “I would like to thank the clubs for their contribution to what was a very fruitful and positive meeting.

“The clubs were unanimous in their view that Super League should become a 12-team competition from 2015 and that there should be meaningful movement between Super League and the Championships.

“There was a full and frank debate about the competition structures and a commitment to support the proposed format.

“The Super League clubs’ decision will now go before the RFL’s independent board of directors for ratification next week.”

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