It has been 112 days after our last Super League game, a memorable night in St Helens. Had things gone to plan, this evening Simon Woolford's Giants would be travelling to Wakefield for Round 19 of the regular season. As we all know, it wasn't meant to be as the pandemic forced the suspension of the season back in March. But today Super League was finally able to confirm a return of the competition, and it all starts with the battle for West Yorkshire.
Five weeks on Sunday, Huddersfield and Leeds will get the 2020 season back under way as the final game of a triple-header live on Sky Sports. Both teams were in great form prior to the pandemic, and you'd fancy the winner to find themselves top of Super League when the season restarts for all teams two weeks later.
The first weekend of August will allow the likes of St Helens, Catalans, Hull KR and Toronto to return to action, as teams who have one or more games in hand, with the rest of the league to return to action the following week
But how does this affect the rest of the season? Super League settled on three return proposals. A 22-round competition with a November Grand Final, a 24-round competition with a December Grand Final, or a 28-round competition with a January Grand Final. Option three seemed the least popular from the start, with a January finish seen as too disruptive to the 2021 season, which would raise concerns ahead of the world cup.
In the end, Robert Elstone and the 12 clubs settled on option 1. This means no loop fixtures, with teams playing every side in the competition twice (in theory, once at home and once away, although those concepts will probably be less rigid this season). The previous top 5 play-off system has been scrapped in favour of a more simple top 4, with the winners of 1st vs 4th and 2nd vs 3rd facing off in the Grand Final on November 28th. This is just 7 weeks later than the original Old Trafford date, which, while not ideal, is a reasonable compromise considering the sport's 20 week hiatus. It will prevent a significant delay to the 2021 season, and potentially allow for one or more mid-season internationals ahead of the World Cup
Surprisingly, the confirmation of the new date and structure made no reference to relegation. As it stands, the bottom team at the end of the regular season will be relegated to the Championship, although it is expected this will be temporarily cancelled following such a chaotic year.
With five weeks to go, there's plenty more info to come. With no fans able to attend in the near future at least, how many games will be on Sky, and will there be a streaming option for the rest? Will there be promotion and relegation? And when do we get our fixture list? Expect more info to be released in the coming weeks as it's confirmed, and keep your eyes on our fixtures page for the schedule as soon as it's released