Yesterday saw the start of a new era of rugby league, one that Keighley Cougars have labelled ‘spreadsheet rugby league, however it’s here to stay and that is the RFL’s grading criteria as advised by IMG.
IMG came into the sport on a 12-year deal as partners to work with the sport’s governing body in order to grow the commercial viability of the game and this grading plan was one of those at the forefront of their suggestions.
These preliminary gradings, more accurately the ‘trial run’ gradings, have now been released and it has seen Leeds Rhinos top the table as the highest graded side with over 17 points out of the possible 20.
In total there were seven Grade A clubs, with all Grade A clubs guaranteed a place in Super League, whilst there were 17 Grade B clubs with the five highest scheduled to take their place in Super League when the gradings are revealed officially next year.
There have been questions over when exactly the gradings, and therefore the composition of Super League for 2025, will be confirmed but that was answered today as the RFL and IMG answered questions of the press.
Matt Dwyer, IMG’s VP, explained that because the criteria is split across five categories, the final of performance must be accounted for and can therefore gradings can only truly be calculated once the season is finished.
He explained: “The one part that needs to play into it is performance. So obviously we’re not going to have definitive results until after the grand final.
“So in terms of timing, it’s not going to be dissimilar to what it is now in terms of promotion relegation.
“We have discussed, and I think it’s one we still need to consider, whether there’s indications we can give earlier than that, because some of the metrics do come earlier. But given that performance is a very large part of this, we’re not going to know definitively until that week after.”
RFL Chief Executive Officer Tony Sutton also commented on this matter, explaining that the ultimate performance metrics will be calculated upon the season ending, but that teams could submit data for the other categories prior to then.
“In terms of absolute markers, the main driver of the data capture return, i.e. how clubs submit their data, has to be on the culmination of the regular season. So that’s the first point,” Sutton explained.
“Then as a playoff play through, as Matt has highlighted, those carry a potential change, particularly the bonus points for finishing in those higher up in those competitions or those playoff series.
“At the risk of going back to my previous answer, I think we will examine how we did timings wise in terms of this year as the illustrative run and make sure that that’s worked or not and put that in our review of making sure that it’s as good as it can be next time around.”
The consensus was added to by Rhodri Jones of RL Commercial who confirmed that clubs and fans can expect to learn their fate in the week or weeks after the Grand Final.
“Yeah, so if you use this year as the example, the collective here were busy post regular season. That’s when a lot of teams’ seasons have finished,” Rhodri Jones of RL Commercial stated.
He continued: “So we’ll be working through to try and get to a place whereby we get to that Grand Final week, where we’ll have a pretty good, strong, clear indication of movement, if there is any.