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.
*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.
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.
|REP WEEK #1|
|REP WEEK #2|
|REP WEEK #3|
|REP WEEK #4|
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)