Since the creation of Super League there have been various different formats and the 2015 season sees another one. This one will have promotion and relegation which has to be a positive but the split halfway through the season is confusing.
Why is the competition restructuring taking place? - The fundamental purpose of the new structure is to make Rugby League’s professional competitions more exciting, by restoring promotion and relegation in a sustainable manner.
What will the leagues be called in 2015? - In the regular season, the First Utility Super League and Kingstone Press Championship will retain their current names – the only change will be that the third tier competition will become Kingstone Press League 1.
How many clubs will be in each competition? - Super League and the Championship will each feature 12 teams and Kingstone Press League 1 will comprise 14 clubs.
How will the identity of the clubs in all three competitions be determined? - At the end of the 2014 regular season the bottom two clubs in Super League will be relegated to create a 12-team competition. At the same time, the bottom five clubs in the Championship will be relegated, and the Championship One winners will be promoted to create a 12-team Championship.
The five relegated Championship clubs and the eight remaining Championship Once clubs will be joined by new entrants Coventry Bears to create a 14-team League 1.
The confusing bit -
How will the new competitions work for Super League and the Championship? - The 12 Super League clubs play each other twice, home and away, during the regular season (22 fixtures) plus one fixture at Magic Weekend. The 12 Championship clubs will also play 23 matches, home and away plus one fixture at the Summer Bash.
After playing 23 fixtures, the 24 Super League and Championship clubs will split into three groups – the Super 8s – based on league positions. The top eight will continue as Super League, the middle eight will be the Qualifiers and the third eight will be the Championship Shield.
How will the Super 8s work? - Clubs will each play seven fixtures on a league basis. Clubs which have performed strongest in their respective competitions in the regular season will be rewarded with four fixtures as follows: the top four Super League clubs will play four home matches; in the Qualifiers, the team finishing ninth and 10th in Super League and the top two teams from the Championship will have four home matches; and in the Championship Shield, clubs finishing the regular Championship season in 5th to 8th place will have four home fixtures.
In Super League and Championship Shield, the competing clubs will carry over the points and scoring records from the regular season into the Super 8s. The Qualifiers will start with zero points because the eight clubs are drawn from two different competitions.
Conclusion - We shall see how it works out. Rugby League has stagnated a bit as it tries to find a space in amongst all the other sports. But it has also always innovated from turning professional when it was created, to frequent rule changes and has even switched from playing in the winter to the summer. I suspect this change won't be permanent save for the promotion and relegation aspect.