The 2020 Rugby Football League Championship is destined to be as dramatic as in recent years. There is a lot at stake as the RFL prepares to negotiate broadcast rights for the future. The financial rewards for being able to join the elite Super League will be great. For the latest tips and Super League bets read the betting24 website.
The second tier Rugby Football League Championship will be conducted mostly in England, but this year will feature one team from France in the form of Toulouse Olympique. Only one team can win promotion to the Super League, while two will be relegated to League 1.
This year’s Championship will feature 14 teams who will face each other home and away during the regular season. There is an additional “Summer Bash Weekend” so this year’s regular-season will consist of 27 matches for each of the 14 teams.
At the conclusion of this regular season, the five highest-placed teams will qualify for a four-round playoff and the lucrative chance to advance to the Super League for the 2021 season.
There is one significant change which might make a difference this year. It is that the team that leads the Championship at the end of the regular season will not be guaranteed the advantage of playing at home in the case that they reach the Grand Final. That right will go to the winners of the round two major semi-finals.
Whichever team wins the Grand Final follows in the footsteps of last year’s successful team, the Toronto Wolfpack, and wins promotion to the Super League.
Who are the leading contenders for promotion from the Championship?
The big question is who is best placed to follow the Toronto Wolfpack and win promotion to the Super League in 2020? The success of the Toronto Wolfpack has shown just how much is at stake in reaching the Super League. They have secured millions of dollars of funding and signed international superstar Sonny Bill Williams. None of that would have been possible without promotion.
They are certainly well placed to take advantage of being the first North American team to qualify for the Super League and their access to their continents huge media markets.
So who is likely to follow them up to the Super League?
Could it be the team relegated from last year’s Super League – the London Broncos?
They are the only professional rugby league club from the south of England in the traditionally northern dominated sport. They were one of the founding members of the Super League in 1996 and will be keen to bounce back in style at the first attempt.
The London Broncos have a strong squad including their England Knights international star Kieran Dixon. They will undoubtedly be amongst the favourites for promotion.
The previously mentioned Toulouse Olympique is the joint betting favourites for promotion along with Leigh Centurions.
Toulouse Olympique certainly has the pedigree to do well. They are 6-time winners of the French Rugby League Championship and finished second in last year’s RFL Championship regular season. They are likely to do well again.
Leigh Centurions deserve to be joint-favourites. They finished last year fourth during the regular season and only losing out in the playoffs to eventual finalists Featherstone Rovers. Again, they are a proud club and have been around since 1878. They are undoubtedly determined to push on this season and they will be real contenders to get promoted.
Last season’s losing Grand Final finalists Featherstone Rovers round out this year’s top contenders for promotion to the Super League. They had a fantastic 2019 after qualifying for the playoffs in fifth place and then going all the way to the Grand Final when they finally fell to the powerful Toronto Wolfpack.
They are one of the very few existing “small town teams” coming from the tiny former coal-mining town of Featherstone. Is this the year they take the extra step and finally make it to the Super League? Their fans certainly hope so, and a quick check of the odds sees them as third favourites at 7/2 to end the 2020 season as the Grand Final winners.
Will there be a surprise package with a chance of gaining promotion to the Super League?
I would like to see the Widnes Vikings do well this year after the unfortunate 12 point deduction they suffered last years for falling into administration. Time will tell if they can beat the odds (currently at 14-1) and be genuine contenders for promotion.
However, considering their proud history of being one of the world’s oldest rugby league clubs, and their loyal supporters… I pick them as my outside bet for promotion.
Maybe it is my southern heart ruling over my brain. Still, I predict that the London Broncos will immediately bounce back and return to the Super League. They are used to playing in elite company and will be determined to get straight back into the big league.
I expect Featherstone Rovers, Toulouse Olympique, and Leigh Centurions to run them close and to all make it to the playoffs.
As stated, my outside bet to join them is the Widnes Vikings. I think many rugby league fans would like to see them overcome their financial issues and do well this year.
Once the playoff teams are confirmed it will be all to play for and may the best team win!