Basically BD the team that is the most consistent throughout a long and arduous season and finishes top of the league has to play pretty well everybody else twice until we are all away on our summer holidays and then someone from the RFU decides if their ground is fit for THE BRAND to visit and then we all wait around a bit then its next season.
And you forgot to add that the promoted team will have to play next season with this seasons squad as all good players will have settled their contracts for next season by the time the playoffs are over.
As you know the promotion playoffs involve the top 8. These are divided into two groups, which I think comprise 1 4 5 8 and 2 3 6 7. All teams play each other twice and the top two teams from each group then play in the semi finals 1st from one playing the second from the other. All this is unbelievably drawn out and in fact takes the best part of three months to complete. If like me you don't want to miss any of the action, but at the same time want to stay on speaking terms with the rest of the family this is an almost impossible tight rope to walk as even at this stage we don't know when we are going to have home matches.
You have to hand it to the RFU. In addition to making it extremely difficult for the best team to end up on top, they upset all the fans by keeping them in the dark about the details of the last 1/3 of the season.
At the end of the 'regular season', the league is split into three groups.
Group A = teams that finished 1st, 4th, 5th and 8th
Group B = 2nd, 3rd, 6th and 7th
Group C = 9th to 12th
Teams play everyone else in their league twice.
Whoever finishes bottom of Group C is relegated.
1st place in Group A plays second place in Group B twice. 1st place in Group B plays second place in Group A twice. The winning teams are the ones that score the most points on aggregate in their two games.
The two winning teams progress to a two-leg final. Each team plays one home game and one away game. I think the team that finished higher in the league at the end of the 'regular season' gets the decision which leg to play home and which to play away. As with the semi finals, the highest aggregate score determines the winner.
And as indicated by Seedub's very handy fixture list, the semis this year are a home and away scenario as well, so as to avoid the situation that nearly happened last year where a side who is very much the best side gets beaten in a one-off semi. As you may recall Bedford nearly (oh so very nearly) beat Worces at Worces in their semi fixture.
Of course the benefit of most players from elsewhere being snapped up by others before the end of the Championship season is that (as with Exe) the promoted side will need to keep faith with those younger (often) and more local (often) players who helped them get promoted rather than bringing in a whole new lot of 'stars' from elsewhere, many of whom would likely be looking at a nice final 'pension year'. It wouild make it tougher for us (if we went up) but it would be great if (like Exe) we could survive our first year back in the Prem with mainly those who got us up there in the first place - most of whom are on the upward curve of their career and should only get better.
We will finish top
2,3,4 could be in any order Bedford, Pirates, LW
5th will be Nottm or Leeds
Doncaster will be 8th whatever happens because of games won
So us V Doncaster + any 2 of 5
My guess Pirates 2, LW 3 Bedford 4 Nottm 5
so the 2 would be Bedford and Nottm.
LW in the Semis and Pirates in the final.
Now shoot me down!
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