x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Winning Super League does not mean you are champions

For monetary reasons, the reward for topping the table is a piece of silverware rated behind the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final. That is unfortunate.

Super League's regular season comes to an end this weekend when the best and most consistent team in English rugby league will win a trophy now considered only the third most important in the game.

That's right, the reward for topping the table after 27 gruelling rounds played home and away against 13 rivals, plus the Magic Weekend at the neutral Millennium Stadium in Wales, is a piece of silverware rated behind the Challenge Cup and the Grand Final.

They will be presented with the League Leaders Trophy, an award also known as the minor premiership.

Since Super League was formed in the mid-1990s, and with a lucrative deal with Sky, the Grand Final series has been vaunted as the season ending, or should that be season extending, blockbuster, with the blood and sweat of the regular season counting only towards qualifying for the play-offs.

So if the Warrington Wolves, who leapfrogged the Wigan Warriors on Sunday to top the table, win the league when they play Hull FC, they will not be the Super League champions, even though they have scored a massive 1,038 points and conceded just 389 in the 26 league games they have played so far this season.

The Warrington players put their bodies on the line in the league one final time tonight. Should they be victorious then to partially describe their achievement as "minor" is nothing short of a major insult.

sentwistle@thenational.ae