By Theydon Bois.
As another year of Rugby League is done and dusted, and we all wait patiently for the new season’s draw to find out how many games Parramatta will get on Friday night, we’ve taken stock at The Gurgler, and come up with a bunch of ideas.
We’ve designed a draft draw for the 2015 season, with a healthy serving of different ideas that we’ve come up with for a few years now. Most will be met with howls of horror or passive aggressive disinterest, although that would be a nasty thing for you to say. And after sitiing on them for years
The thinking behind the draw in general is to ensure that it is a fairer draw, but with something different. And to ensure more of the best games are available to more.
I have faith that Rugby League doesn’t begin or end with SBW, Parramatta or Broncos playing every Friday night. Have the best games in the best timeslots and the fans will come, believe that people in Qld and NSW want the best possible game week in and week out not certain teams in timeslots.
Attached is the draw plus other diagrams to accompany, but we’ll explain some of the major points below.
For the purpose of our draw for 2015, we’ve included an extra two teams, which the NRL should be looking to cater for by then or soon.
The major points are discussed below in a little detail, and accompanying diagrams should also provide some more info on our thoughts.
STAND ALONE ORIGIN PERIOD
With our proposed draw is a stand-alone origin period, with no shortened split rounds with origin players missing or waste of time weeks with 4 or 5 games.
Regular season round where every team plays each other once and these are alternated home and away each year to ensure in a two year cycle one team plays the other both home and away. IT also provides most of the other players a month long gap to recover, and less injured players means less drain on resources and ability to field extra two teams.
Play it Sunday or Monday night. No matter it will rate its socks off.
The exception to this for teams which due to commercial interest each team gets to play twice – once each home and away. We’ve pooled three teams into groups and there are 6 groups. More explained in our diagram, but this ensures that the marquee games like Brisbane v Cowboys, Souths v Roosters, Parramatta v Canterbury, St George v Cronulla are played home and away each year. There are three marquee round where two teams in each marquee group play each other, and the alternative game is the remaining team playing the remaining teams in the next groups, this forms one of the normal fixtures. The two extra marquee games are in addition to each team playing each other once.
E.g. Group 1 – Team A v Team B Group 2 – Team A v Team B Other – Group 1 Team C v Group 2 Team C.
This makes sure you have the best games played at least twice during year. Marquee Groups can be reviewed and changed after each season. Ours is a suggestion only.
POOL ROUND / WILDCARD WEEK.
Another inclusion is once the regular season of 20 games is completed, the comp is then split into 3 groups of six teams based on ladder position. The final 5 games are played within that group of 6 teams, and qualification for the finals complicated a little to provide more live games in the back end of the season, and to add a little spice to the finals series and allows to provide a few more chances to make finals without expanding past the current 8 teams.
Pools would be split into 1-6, 7-12 and 13-18. All teams within these pools will pay each other only in the last five weeks. Points from first 20 rounds stay, but the path to the finals changes. Games would be redrawn for the 6 teams with the top 3 getting three home games and other two as a reward.
From the 1-6 pool, teams 1 to 5 automatically qualify for one of the 8 finals positions, Team 6 would go into the Wildcard round to play in a special pre-finals week against teams from other pools. From the 7-12 pool, only Team 7 automatically qualify. Teams 8 and 9 would go into the Wildcard weekend also. And from the 13-18 Pool, only the top of this 6 team pool qualify for the Wildcard round. Team 6 would play Team 9 and Team 8 would play Team 13. The winners would then take positions 7 and 8 in current finals format.
This provides the best possible games leading into finals in the Top 6, and gives teams from 7 – 18 after 20 rounds more to play for longer into the year instead of giving up with some rounds to go. It also gives a week off before the finals for some teams to ensure the best teams are in the best shape.
You could argue why Team 7 should qualify ahead of Team 6, but in most seasons, a team in the top 6 drift in last few weeks and are usually promptly bundled out of the end of season shindig. Plus it would make every game worth winning and reward teams who play right to end of year. It also allows the NRL to have 10 finals chances without changing the current 8 team final format.
It’s our belief that there should be one game on Thursday and Friday night. Not two on Friday.
Forget regional viewers, I’m sure real League fans want to see the best teams play not a team just because it suits broadcasting requirements. It would be better value for broadcasters to have two prime time games over two days, instead of a late 2nd game on Friday usually watched by die-hard fans or fans of KFC ads.
Monday night stays, with three games on Saturday and Sunday live and not overlapping. Free to air should also play the Sunday game live. Replayed games are a copout.
Certain safeguards though must be enforced that there must be a min 5 day gap between, and that teams can only do the 5 day back up a maximum of three times during the year.
Also included is a Super Weekend. An idea inspired by the UK Super League where all teams play at one venue over a whole 3 days of a weekend. If you have been to one, you’d appreciate how good an idea it is.
The teams are drawn out of a hat, and venue up for tender every year. Games played over Friday to Sunday, and tickets to be sold as either 3 day or 1 day pass. Revenue shared between all clubs.
During the Origin period to supplement the lack of action is a small knockout cup to give the lesser teams in RL their time to shine, and give the viewing public a distraction, but nothing to take too much away from the State of Origin, In fact you would only probably televise semi-finals and the final on Friday night as a warm up to the final Origin game.
This is in addition to a super bowl of Qld Cup v NSW Cup winners on NRL Grand Final day. Which is not our idea, but highly recommended.
We would have like to implement a Challenge Cup/FA Cup style comp to run alongside the NRL, but there would be no way anyone would agree to it.
There’s a lot of different ideas, probably some unfeasible, and I can see the arguments about certain teams may play each other 4 or 5 times if they make finals. However if they are the best teams and best games why wouldn’t you want to see more of them.
As a Souths fan there was certainly nothing wrong with seeing Roosters v Manly twice in finals, and more throughout year.
Anyways, food for thought. Any change an improvement.