Talking RL: Imagine if rugby league hadn't changed the structure?

Bevan French and Liam Farrell in action against Hull KRBevan French and Liam Farrell in action against Hull KR
Bevan French and Liam Farrell in action against Hull KR
For better or worse, rugby league has never been afraid of radical moves.

From ClubCalls to Margin Meters and expansion clubs to expanded World Clubs, the game has plenty of previous when it comes to bold moves.

By the time many fans had got their head around the Super-8s it had been ditched for a more straight-forward league structure... featuring a team from Canada.

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All of that may not have prepared fans for today's announcement - a league table decided by 'points percentage'.

It's the first time in the Super League era (indeed, the first time since the 50s) a league has be decided by a win percentage ratio, rather than how many points you've got.

We shouldn't be shocked they've moved the goalposts during a campaign; when they players restarted, they found they had new rules to adjust to!

Mentioning the players, credit to them and the clubs for the flexibility they've shown in getting games on.

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Now they - like the rest of us - will have to get used to a new league structure.

And it's fair to say the decision has not been met by universal approval.

My first reaction was, 'Is this a joke?'. Or words along those lines.

But the more I thought about it, the more it morphed into a different question; imagine if rugby league had not taken this decision?

Think about it.

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Catalans - for reasons that were not their fault - have only played seven matches. They have 13 league games to go.

And they're still in the Challenge Cup, giving them at least 14 matches in total - and potentially 16 matches - to play before the play-offs in mid-November.

That's little more than two months away.

Joel Tomkins joked to me this week that 16 games in nine weeks would be like a throwback to his junior days, of playing for both St John Fisher and St Pat's every week.

And that - remember - was a best case scenario with no more coronavirus-forced lay-offs or cancellations.

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Wakefield and Leeds are in a similar position, having only played one more game than Catalans.

Could we really have made it to the end of the season in mid-November with everyone playing all 20 league games?

Seriously? Should Super League have put its blinkers on and charged forward with nothing but hope for the best?

In my opinion, it's better to make this radical shake-up now rather than down the track.

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They could have cut the campaign down, of course, from 20 to - say - 17 or 18. But this option gives more flexibility, allowing for best and worst case scenarios.

Best case? All clubs play 20 games - in which case, the league table would be the same using the points percentage as the points gained!

Worst case? Covid wreaks havoc with fixtures, but Sky still get games to show - so the money from the broadcaster isn't jeopardised - and the league doesn't have to cram in even more games, raising further player welfare issues.

Does it harm the integrity of the competition? Probably. Though the champions are decided by a play-offs and no team is relegated.

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Is it open to abuse? Possibly. Though you'd imagine it's easier to check that teams have legit, Covid-related reasons to call off games than, say, hamstring strains.

Let's be honest, this is far from ideal.

But let's not overlook the bleedin' obvious here; we're in a pandemic. The players, the clubs, and the sport have shown their willingness to adapt. Everyone else has to do the same, too.

"It's like the rest of 2020," said Adrian Lam today. "You cop it and you move on."

I couldn't have put it better myself.

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