Super League votes for new relegation system

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The Independent Online

Super League clubs have voted that two of their teams will be relegated at the end of next season to make way for the new French club from Perpignan.

Super League clubs have voted that two of their teams will be relegated at the end of next season to make way for the new French club from Perpignan.

A meeting of the 12 top flight outfits has agreed to follow the proposal from the National League - the two Super League sides will be replaced for 2006 by the NL1 winners and the French newcomers.

The decision was not unanimous and it is understood that some clubs would have preferred a system under which the next to last team in Super League would have had a play-off against the NL1 winners for a place in the élite division.

Hull, who host St Helens today, have agreed a contract extension with the New Zealand Test hooker, Richard Swain, who will now be with them until the end of the 2006 season.

"His contribution has been first class,'' said the Hull coach, John Kear. "He's been a major influence on the team and our younger players.''

Saints will continue to use the 18-year-old James Roby as stand-in for the suspended scrum-half Sean Long. "I've been ecstatic with him but you have to know when and when not to play lads of his age,'' said the Saints coach Ian Millward.

The bottom club Castleford are to give a debut to Mark Tookey from the New Zealand Warriors against Huddersfield tomorrow and are now looking for another overseas player to replace Sean Ryan, who will not play again this season.

London, immediately above them, have Andrew Hart and Rob Purdham back from injury for their match against Leeds, while Russell Bawden has returned from France. The Rhinos promote Carl Ablett, a back rower from their academy team, to the first team squad.

The winners of the match between Widnes and Salford can virtually call themselves safe from relegation this time, whilst the meeting of Wakefield and Warrington could have a big bearing on the top six.

The first silverware of the year for National League clubs is on offer at Rochdale, where Leigh are the strong favourites to beat Hull KR in the final of the Arriva Trains Cup.

York have sacked the former Hull KR winger Alex Godfrey as he failed in his appeal against a two year ban after he tested positive for cocaine.

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