Thursday, 5 December 2013

A Fair NRL Draw (2013)

This week, after much self-promotion, the NRL proudly released its 2014 season draw, with the dates of every game in the first 20 rounds already locked in.

This undoubtedly caused a wide range of views, but the one thing that stood out the most was how some teams were getting more free-to-air coverage on Friday nights than others, while others had copped a heap of games on Monday nights.

This made me wonder if it were indeed possible to make a draw that can be as fair as possible for all teams and most importantly, all the fans of their respective teams.

I also wanted to find solutions to the major issue that the players had expressed, that the season is too long.

And I think I’ve come up with a solution that is fair to all teams and players and in a format that can be used every year.

Key Points
*Each club will play 22 games, 11 home and 11 away
*There will be 4 weekends allocated for representative football only.
*There will be no byes
*There will be no games with rep players rested (unless the clubs wish to do so), providing a fairer competition.
*There will be an International tournament between 4 Pacific nations teams.

The Representative Weekends

These are stand-alone weeks with no club football. They will contain a Pacific Nations tournament between the 4 sides that participated in the last World Cup, Cook Islands, Fiji, Tonga and Samoa. The following year could contain 4 other completely different teams. They will play each other once in the first 3 weeks and play a final on the last rep weekend. This is designed to help give the game bigger exposure in these countries, and give them more rep football to help improve them, in preparation for the next World Cup.

Week 1 – Between Rounds 6 and 7. Friday night to have the City v Country game. Saturday night to have the Australia v New Zealand test. Sunday afternoon to have 2 Pacific nations games.

Week 2 – Between Rounds 11 and 12. Friday night to have the first NYC State of Origin game. Saturday night to have State of Origin game 1. Sunday afternoon to have 2 Pacific nations games.

Week 3 – Between Rounds 14 and 15. Friday night to have the second NYC State of Origin game. Saturday night to have State of Origin game 2. Sunday afternoon to have 2 Pacific nations games.

Week 4 – Between Rounds 17 and 18. Friday night to have the third NYC State of Origin game. Saturday night to have State of Origin game 3. Sunday afternoon to have the final of the Pacific Nations tournament.

The Mechanics
This is how the draw will work. Each team will be given a number from 1 to 16. This can either be chosen randomly, or an alternate method would be to base it on each team’s ladder position from the previous season. The teams numbered 1 to 8 will play each other twice. The teams numbered 9 to 16 will play each other twice. The teams numbered 1 to 8 will play the teams numbered 9 to 16 once.

The draw will see all team play either 5 or 6 Friday games, 5 or 6 Saturday games, 8 or 9 Sunday games and 2 or 3 Monday games.

This draw is designed to work best if the team’s numbers are their ladder position from the previous year as it would ensure the top 8 sides from the previous season will play each other twice, thus removing any prospect of favourable draws. It will also mean that the poorer teams will play each other twice, helping to ensure closer games for the majority of the season.


And so here is the draw. I understand and accept that it won’t be to everyone’s liking and that it may have its flaws. But it must be remembered that what I am attempting to do here is provide a draw that is fair for every team, their fans and the players, while still ensuring a strong competition, stronger representative season and still allowing for the NYC competition to have its own representative season to help with their development and preparation for the NRL, as well as giving more exposure and experience to the Pacific Nations.

Round Home Away Day
1 1 2 Friday
9 10 Friday
3 4 Saturday
13 14 Saturday
5 6 Sunday
11 12 Sunday
15 16 Sunday
7 8 Monday
2 2 10 Friday
6 14 Friday
3 11 Saturday
8 16 Saturday
1 9 Sunday
4 12 Sunday
7 15 Sunday
5 13 Monday
3 5 7 Friday
13 15 Friday
1 3 Saturday
6 8 Saturday
2 4 Sunday
9 11 Sunday
14 16 Sunday
10 12 Monday
4 13 4 Friday
9 8 Friday
15 2 Saturday
12 5 Saturday
16 1 Sunday
14 3 Sunday
11 6 Sunday
10 7 Monday
5 1 4 Friday
9 12 Friday
5 8 Saturday
10 11 Saturday
2 3 Sunday
6 7 Sunday
13 16 Sunday
14 15 Monday
6 2 9 Friday
6 13 Friday
4 11 Saturday
7 16 Saturday
3 12 Sunday
5 14 Sunday
8 15 Sunday
1 10 Monday
REP WEEK #1
7 3 7 Friday
11 15 Friday
9 13 Saturday
12 16 Saturday
1 5 Sunday
4 8 Sunday
10 14 Sunday
2 6 Monday
8 5 4 Friday
13 12 Friday
8 1 Saturday
15 10 Saturday
7 2 Sunday
16 9 Sunday
14 11 Sunday
6 3 Monday
9 1 15 Friday
5 11 Friday
2 16 Saturday
7 9 Saturday
3 13 Sunday
6 12 Sunday
8 10 Sunday
4 14 Monday
10 2 8 Friday
10 16 Friday
3 5 Saturday
12 15 Saturday
1 6 Sunday
4 7 Sunday
11 13 Sunday
9 14 Monday
11 16 3 Friday
12 7 Friday
14 1 Saturday
15 4 Saturday
13 2 Sunday
10 5 Sunday
11 8 Sunday
9 6 Monday
REP WEEK #2
12 4 6 Friday
12 14 Friday
2 5 Saturday
9 15 Saturday
1 7 Sunday
3 8 Sunday
10 13 Sunday
11 16 Monday
13 1 13 Friday
5 9 Friday
3 15 Saturday
6 10 Saturday
2 14 Sunday
4 16 Sunday
7 11 Sunday
8 12 Monday
14 4 3 Friday
12 11 Friday
8 7 Saturday
14 13 Saturday
6 5 Sunday
10 9 Sunday
16 15 Sunday
2 1 Monday
REP WEEK #3
15 7 5 Friday
15 13 Friday
11 9 Saturday
16 14 Saturday
3 1 Sunday
8 6 Sunday
12 10 Sunday
4 2 Monday
16 7 6 Friday
15 14 Friday
4 1 Saturday
11 10 Saturday
3 2 Sunday
12 9 Sunday
16 13 Sunday
8 5 Monday
17 5 1 Friday
13 9 Friday
6 2 Saturday
15 11 Saturday
7 3 Sunday
14 10 Sunday
16 12 Sunday
8 4 Monday
REP WEEK #4
18 12 2 Friday
16 6 Friday
9 3 Saturday
14 8 Saturday
11 1 Sunday
10 4 Sunday
13 7 Sunday
15 5 Monday
19 5 3 Friday
13 11 Friday
6 1 Saturday
7 4 Saturday
8 2 Sunday
14 9 Sunday
15 12 Sunday
16 10 Monday
20 6 4 Friday
14 12 Friday
5 2 Saturday
15 9 Saturday
7 1 Sunday
8 3 Sunday
13 10 Sunday
16 11 Monday
21 1 12 Friday
5 16 Friday
3 10 Saturday
6 15 Saturday
2 11 Sunday
4 9 Sunday
7 14 Sunday
8 13 Monday
22 7 2 Friday
15 10 Friday
5 4 Saturday
14 11 Saturday
6 3 Sunday
16 9 Sunday
13 12 Sunday
8 1 Monday

The current 8 team finals system would be in place at season end.

(Apologies for the format, it's the only way it would work)

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Stig in a teacup (2013)

Last week, a person shared his opinion on why gay marriage should not be allowed to go ahead. His opinion was based on phrases from the bible. A book quite well known for its anti-homosexual stance. A book which has a number of religions based upon it. A book which is in more households than nearly any other book in the world.

People in their millions around the world from all walks of life have had opinions that are similar.

And for the most part, they are entitled to their view and free to express it. Sure it upsets some people and many others will disagree with that view. That is also their view and they are free to express their opposition to anti-homosexual opinions.

But it’s an opinion. It’s not a crime.

However, the little known country of Australia which proudly boasts to be a democracy that allows free speech, has a media whose take on that claim is entirely reversed when it comes to particular people, most notably professional athletes.

This abovementioned incident involved a player who hasn’t played in the NRL since 2011, by the name of Ryan Stig.

What ensued was a number of media personalities coming out of the woodwork to harangue the bloke for doing what every other person in this country is free to do without condemnation.

What Stig did was post a picture of a letter that he didn’t write, which contained sentiments which he agreed with, based on verses from the bible.

Stig did not say Gay Marriage was demonic. He agreed with a statement in the bible of his chosen religion. Now I’ll admit I know very little about Ryan Stig, but something tells me that he didn’t write the bible.

Call it a hunch.

Stig did not have a rant, he quite clearly stated that his thoughts were along the line of some letter written by someone else, based on their interpretation of phrases from the bible.

Instead Stig was greeted by an emotive article by Andrew Webster demanding the NRL to do something. I’m sorry, but while I don’t agree with Ryan’s comments, he’s entitled to them. He didn’t ask for gay people to be killed off, he didn’t commit any crime. He’s a human being, following a religion which is pretty clear on its stance about homosexual behaviour and he expressed an opinion.

This is not an issue for the NRL or the Newcastle Knights. It’s a difference of opinion between people against people who follow the words of a religious text, and absolutely nothing more. If Webster and others have an issue with Stig’s comments, then they only time they should be taking it up with the NRL is if Dave Smith becomes pope.

What we have here is a few frustrated journo’s who haven’t been able to write anything negative about the game for some time, then latching onto the most inane issue and blowing it out of proportion to peddle their holier than thou attitudes, which is laughable, given some of the despicable behaviour of a small section of journalists in the Rugby League world, even this year (Jon Mannah peptides link just weeks after he died being a prime example).

I agree with sentiments that Stig’s comments were inappropriate and I completely disagree with his opinion. I for one have no issue with gay marriage. I actually don’t see what the big drama is about allowing gay people to get married. Doing so doesn’t make any difference to my life, so I say let them go for it. More happy people in the world can only be a good thing.

But to make such a big song and dance about one bloke’s opinion is madness. There’s an underlying issue here and it’s not with the NRL and not with gay marriage.


It’s with some people in the media and their negative attitude towards Rugby League.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Officialdom Gone Crazy (2013)

Every week, every year, Rugby League officials, coaches, players, commentators and fans alike are left debating dubious officiating from the past weekend's games.

And as the 2013 finals season reaches its second last week, we have again been met with even more confusing refereeing.

But none of it will surpass the try on the seventh tackle to Cronulla against North Queensland in the first week of the finals. But are the referees entirely at fault?

Over the past few years there have been issues and errors regarding the hawkeye technology used in tennis to determine if a ball is in or out, the video review technology and methodology in AFL when determining if a goal has hit a post or not, the hotspot and snickometer technologiy in Cricket used to determine if a player is out or not and of course, the video referee issues in Rugby League.

Prior to all this technology, referees made errors, but they were human errors that we could all deal with. They game wasn't held up to deliberate a decision. All this tehcnology seems to have hampered all sport more than it has improved it. Once play stops to wait for a ruling to be made, momentum for a player or team is lost which does have a major impact on results.

Furthermore, it puts more attention on the officiating of the game. And when you keep heaping pressure on people who already have to deal with more than enough pressure, well, mistakes are going to be more frequent and more costly.

In Rugby League circles, the issue goes further than just the technology. Its the rules around the technology. First we had the ludicrous 'benefit of the doubt' ruling which favoured one team over the other, instead of using a fair system. Now we have a slight modification on that, whereby the on-field referee must make a decision as to whether its a try or not in their view and then it is up to the video ref to confirm. This however is still open to contention, because if the video referee cannot find enough evidence to overrule the on field referee's ruling, then it doesn't get overruled at all. It almost renders the video referee useless.

The other problem is having two referees. These issues combined convey the message that the NRL and the Refereeing Department have no faith in the on field referees.

Throw in constant rule additions and tweaks (shoulder charges, punching) as well as the issue with players diving and intentionally colliding with decoy runners so as to prevent a try under the obstruction rule and wrestling holds to name the most major has left referees with no confidence, under the most intense pressure every week than any referees in the past, with more things to look for, with fans and commentators berating them at every call more aggressively than ever before, you can start to understand that the issue stems much further than just poor refereeing ability.

If you need evidence to show exactly what I mean, then go and watch some NSW Cup footy. You barely notice the referee, which is a true testament to good officiating.

If we want our refereeing to be better, then we need to show faith in the referees and make their jobs easier. Instead of banning shoulder charges, just ban all contact with the head and neck, however its done. If contact with the head is made, then send the player off, or to the sin bin and let the judiciary deal with them. These players should not remain on the field for hitting someone high.

Revert back to one referee on the field.

Video referee's should not be awarding any tries if they cannot prove certainly that a try has been scored.

The NRL should issue a directive to all NRL clubs that wrestling will not be tolerated. Furthermore, let all clubs know that every match will be scrutinised by the match review committee and if any wrestling holds are being used, the players will be suspended.

The NRL needs to stop forcing the on-field referees to continually monitor more and more aspects of the game.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Three Referees (2013)

Shayne: I need to check the grounding for this try please.
Jason: I'm sorry?
Shayne: I want you to check the grounding.
Jason: I didn't quite catch it.
Shayne: I want to check the grounding for a try.
Jason: Ah, um, er, hang on just one moment Shayne, I'll just switch the radio off. [He switches it on; music blaring]Right, now what was it again?
Shayne: What?
Jason: What was it again?
Shayne: I can't hear.
Jason: What?
Shayne: The radio's too loud!
Jason: Yes, very nice, isn't it.
Shayne: Turn off the radio!
Jason: Pardon? I'm sorry, I don't think my hearing aid's working properly. I've only had it a couple of days. Hang on. [He takes it off and adjusts it.] Yes, there we are, it's working now.
Shayne: Is it a try?
Jason: Gee I’m not sure he’s got that down, you should probably send it up here?
Shayne: I have!
Jason: No, no, there’s definitely some doubt there.
Shayne: Can you hear me?
Jason: What?
Shayne: CAN. YOU. HEAR. ME!
Jason: Oh! Penalty try!
Shayne: What?
Jason: You want to award a penalty try.
Shayne: No.
Jason: Oh, well I'll get Alan then, he deals with penalty tries. I only do the basic stuff.
[Alan enters through the door with his arms outstretched feeling for objects]
Alan: [looking at Jason] you want to award a penalty try do you?
Jason: What?
Alan: You want to award a penalty try do you?
Jason: I can't hear what you're saying, Alan.
Alan: I think you need a scrum differential penalty, not a penalty try.
Shayne: No, I want you to check the grounding!
Alan: Who said that? Is there someone else in here?
Jason: What?
Alan: I think there's someone else in here.
Shayne: Yes. It's me. On your loudspeaker.
Alan: Ah! You wanted the penalty try did you?
Shayne: No, I want you to check the grounding for this try.
Alan: Ah, Jason will see to you about that. He'll be here in a minute. [to Jason] Now, you wanted the penalty try, did you?
Jason: Er, What?
Alan: Penalty try?
Jason: Er, I don't understand, Alan. I’m Jason.
Alan: Why didn't you say you were Jason? You know my lenses play up sometimes.
Jason: What?
Alan: [to Shayne] Ah, I do apologise most sincerely for the inconvenience Shayne. Now, you were after a penalty try were you?
Shayne: No, I wanted to have the grounding checked for this try.
Alan: Jason will deal with you, Shayne. I'm dealing with this penalty try over here.
Shayne: Now, Jason, please check the grounding for this try.
Jason: Pardon? I'm sorry, look, I'm worried about Alan. I think he thinks there’s a penalty try.
Shayne: Well, hadn’t you better go and tell him there isn’t?
Jason: No, no, I'd better go and tell him there isn’t a penalty try. [To Alan] Er, Alan!
Alan: Ah, there you are. I thought I'd lost you.
Jason: Er, no, Alan, there’s no penalty try.
Alan: Well, who asked me to check for one then? Don't be silly, let’s have a look at this penalty try.
Jason: What? No, Alan, I’m Jason.
Alan: Why didn't you say you were Jason?
Jason: [looking at his watch] Almost half-time.
Alan: Ah, sorry. [To Shayne] Now then let’s check your penalty try.
Shayne: No, I wanted to check the grounding of this try!
Alan: Ah. [turns to Jason] So you want to award a penalty try?
Shayne: I just want someone to check the grounding of the ball!
Alan: Ah, er, Jason! There are two referee’s here that would like you to check the grounding of the ball for their two tries!
Jason: What? I can't hear you, Alan, I think it must be my hearing aid. Hang on a moment. [He adjusts it.] Aaaah! Too loud, it hurts! [He hits the side of his head repeatedly.] Ah, that's better. Wait a moment, I've knocked my contacts out. [He begins searching on the floor]
Shayne: Please, for the love of all that’s sacred, can someone check the grounding of this try. Please!
Alan: Three tries now Jason. Boy it’s busy out there today.
Jason: Got it!
Alan: [to Shayne] Jason says it’s a try.
Shayne: Thank you!
[Shayne awards try. Crowd boo’s as the replay appears showing the ball was clearly not grounded].