The IMG gradings were shared today with Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves, Hull KR, Hull FC, Catalans Dragons and St Helens the clubs who picked up Grade A scores.
Since IMG recommended this system there has been a lot of debate about what this means.
On the face of it, it seemed to end traditional promotion and relegation but RL Commercial and IMG often pushed against this notion.
This was especially the case when questions were raised about the Championship Grand Final and if it would still matter.
Based on the comments of Matt Dwyer from IMG, it would seem that it may not based on the example of London who rank 24th:
“Let’s pretend we fast forward 12 months’ time, we release, the RFL and RLC release the grading scores again; it will be the top 12 teams that will be participating in the 2025 Super League. That’s the easiest way to think about it and the easiest way to explain it to everybody is that Super League participants are always the top 12 graded teams. That’s the best and simplest way I can explain it to you.”
This also means London could essentially be relegated before a ball is kicked in 2024 with the Broncos having too much ground to make up.
so what does this mean for the Championship Grand Final? Rhodri Jones of RL Commercial addressed how this will fit around the gradings: “I think we we had looked at a couple of different timings in terms of when to announce and when to release these and I think because this is a effectively a dummy run, it’s probably why it’s come after the season as opposed to before the season.
“But I think that one of the conversations we’ve had is to build up towards that Championship Grand Final in terms of indicative scoring so that clubs know when they get to that point what they’re playing for in the Championship Grand Final.
“So I think there are a couple of versions in terms of timings. We’ve done it this way this time for the obvious reasons, try and get it right and to have all the right data. But next year we’ll have done the, there are a set majority of the hard yards and therefore it should just be next year’s data that we’re having to input into the algorithm. So the aspiration is that we’ll do it before the grand finals.”
The winners of that final, London, issued the following statement:
“Following an extensive period of review and consultation by Rugby League and IMG the new grading categories have today been revealed. It has been confirmed that London Broncos have been graded as a “Category B” club.
“Under the new grading criteria, which comes into effect from 2025, any team that has achieved Grade A status would be guaranteed one of the 12 places in Super League. The highest-performing Grade B teams would be in Super League should there not be 12 Grade A clubs.
“All clubs are scored out of 20 and a score of 15 or more is required for Category A status, with 7.5 points or more achieving Category B status. London Broncos received a score of 8.07.”
Speaking on the results of the review, London Broncos Chairman David Hughes said;
“Whilst accepting the score given, we will now look to work together as a club to improve on this score with the long-term ambition of achieving an A grade.
“Following the magnificent success of securing promotion from the Championship last season the club now looks to build on the strong foundations we have built in Wimbledon and last year’s achievements on the pitch, as we look to establish London Broncos as a Super League club now and in years to come.”
“The vast majority of scores in each category are based on an average over a three-year period so we need to make improvements year-on-year in order to improve our grading score in the longer term.”