Super League to return with shortened season at neutral venues from August 2

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Super League will return for a shortened season on August 2, though games will be played behind closed doors at a small group of neutral venues.

No matches have been played in the competition since March 15 due to the COVID-19 outbreak, with teams having played between four and seven games in the season.

There will be a further 15 rounds of fixtures – seven less than initially planned – with the top four heading into semi-finals ahead of Grand Final that it is hoped will take place in late November. The 2021 season will consequently start later than the traditional opening weekend of February.

Hull KR will take on Toronto Wolfpack in the first game following a 140-day hiatus, with St Helens against Catalans Dragons following before Huddersfield Giants meet Leeds Rhinos. All three fixtures will take place at the same, as yet unconfirmed, venue.

All other clubs will return to action the following weekend.

Super League executive chairman Robert Elstone said: “We are in the final stages of confirming where the games will be played, and we continue to work closely with [rights holders] Sky Sports to deliver the best possible broadcast schedule for our fans. Further details of this will be confirmed over the coming weeks.

“Above all we know that fans want to get back into grounds to support their teams. We will continue to follow government advice and work alongside the RFL [Rugby Football League], clinical advisors and ground safety personnel to ensure that when that time comes, Super League is ready to welcome back its fans at the first opportunity.

“Whilst the recent government announcements underline increasing optimism, the pandemic remains unpredictable. Our final fixture schedule needs to respond to opportunities that will unfold over the coming weeks and accordingly, full details of fixtures, venues and season structure will be confirmed as they become known.

“Finally, I would like to thank the fans and players for their patience, positivity and desire to see Super League back up and running post-COVID-19.”