Super League chief Robert Elstone admits shutdown may mean major format changes
Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone admits radical changes to the structure of the season may have to be considered if there is a prolonged shutdown.
The Rugby Football League (RFL) and Super League jointly announced on Monday that all fixtures, from the top flight down to the community game, will be postponed until April 3 at the earliest due to the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic and the Government’s decision to stop supporting mass gatherings.
A full two rounds of league action will be lost and there is a major doubt over the Coral Challenge Cup sixth round ties which are due to be played on the weekend of April 4-5.
Some clubs are already behind with fixtures due to postponements caused by the Cup and by Storm Ciara while Catalans Dragons also have games against St Helens and Leeds to re-arrange after they fell victim to the World Club Challenge and the Coronavirus respectively.
Elstone says discussions have already taken place with the Super League clubs about how changes may have to be made to the format when the fixtures eventually return.
“It has to be very fluid,” he said. “We’ve already talked internally and to the RFL about how we might accommodate that.
“Ultimately clubs want to protect their regular home season fixture list and that needs to take priority.
“There will come a point when it gets more challenging. But the message is that this is being monitored day to day and fixture lists will emerge on a similar basis subject to what the advice and messaging from Government is.”
It is not inconceivable that the eagerly-awaited Ashes Series in the autumn could become a casualty of any prolonged disruption.
In Australia, it has emerged that talks have already taken place with Queensland and New South Wales about moving the State of Origin series from the middle of the season to October and November, which would clash directly with the Kangaroos’ scheduled visit to England.
Meanwhile, RFL chief executive Ralph Rimmer says the governing body has not ruled out seeking Government help during the enforced lay-off.
“In the next couple of weeks, we intend to review everything,” he said.
“All the partners in the equation, which will include the Government and broadcast and commercial partners, are going to have to get their heads together and come up with solutions.
“No one party is going to solve this.”