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Page last updated at 23:47 GMT, Sunday, 30 November 2008

Super League play-offs overhauled

Leeds Rhinos are the reigning Super League champions
Leeds are the reigning champions

The Rugby Football League has announced a major revamp of the Super League play-offs for the 2009 season.

The most significant change sees the highest-placed team after the first round being able to choose their semi-final opponents in week three.

The four-week series, which ends with the Grand Final on 10 October, will now involve the top eight teams after the league's expansion from 12 to 14 clubs.

The RFL says all 14 clubs have been consulted about the new format.

"This new eight-team play-off series is a tremendous development for the sport and the competition," said RFL chief executive Nigel Wood.


"It will create great drama and bring an added dimension to what is already the most exciting period in the season.

"The increase in play-off places will also add more interest to the regular season by giving more matches added significance as clubs battle through the weekly rounds to give themselves a shot at the title.

"By introducing the element that allows the highest-placed qualifier to select their semi-final opponents in week three, rugby league has once again shown it is a highly innovative and progressive sport."

All eight qualifying teams are involved on the opening weekend, with the League leaders facing the fourth-placed team, while second plays third, fifth taking on eighth and sixth meeting seventh.

The RFL should be congratulated for once again showing innovation and courage to continue to strive to improve the product on the pitch

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington
The matches involving the top four teams will see the winners going straight through to the third week of the series and the qualifying semi-finals.

The losers in these two games will have another chance in the second week when they face the winners of the elimination play-offs.

In week three, the winners of the two qualifying play-offs in week one will meet the winners from week two, with the highest-placed team allowed to select their opponents from a choice of two.

Leeds chief executive Gary Hetherington, who has seen his side win the last two Grand Finals, welcomed the changes, saying: "I think, having expanded the engage Super League to 14 teams from 2009, that the time is right to expand the play-off system.

"Importantly, this system does recognise those clubs who finish higher in the table and they get advantages for that.

"The option for the top-ranked team to select their opponent in the final play-off game is new and different but I think the RFL should be congratulated for once again showing innovation and courage to continue to strive to improve the product on the pitch."

Week One:
Qualifying play-off (QPO) one - 1st v 4th (winner receives a bye to week three)
Qualifying play-off two - 2nd v 3rd (winner receives a bye to week three)
Elimination play-off (EPO) one - 5th v 8th (loser goes out)
Elimination play-off two - 6th v 7th (loser goes out)

Week Two:
Preliminary semi-final (PSF)one - QPO one loser v EPO one winner
Preliminary semi-final two - QPO 2 loser v EPO 2 winner

Week Three:
*Qualifying semi-final one - QPO one winner v PSF one winner
*Qualifying semi-final two - QPO two winner v PSF two winner

Week Four:
Grand Final - QSF one winner v QSF two winner

* subject to choice of highest placed winner in week one

see also
Crusaders to start against Leeds
23 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Cut number of SL games - Anderson
20 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
Clubs 'must help England develop'
19 Nov 08 |  Rugby League
St Helens 16-24 Leeds Rhinos
04 Oct 08 |  Rugby League
Crusaders & Salford win licences
22 Jul 08 |  Rugby League
Super League explained
28 Feb 01 |  Rugby League
Play-offs explained
20 Sep 08 |  My Club

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