Triskaidekaphobia. No it’s not the title of a song from Mary Poppins. Nor is it a movie about computer generated spiders.
It is a fear of the number thirteen. There are a many great beliefs to the origin of this superstition, from the last supper and Judas, to the Babyloanians, Vikings and the Freemasons. Over time, some extraordinary lengths some have taken to avoid the number thirteen altogether by people, builders, sporting organisations, hospitals and even governments.
But on a list with more than thirteen items, it cannot be avoided. One such list which I am referring to is the NRL Premiership ladder.
Thanks to the marvels of research, public education and an ample amount of spare time, I have been able to uncover a startling revelation which will have people queuing up for as much thirteen as they possibly can.
There is a very clear and amazing trend happening in the NRL to do with thirteen. Over the past few seasons of the NRL, Round 13 has been the halfway point of the season, except for 2007 when there were 25 rounds where for the sake of this article a bit of mathematical and creative licence was used to decide that 13 would be half of 25.
In Round 13, 2005, the thirteenth team on the ladder was Penrith, who fell just one goal shy of ninth on the ladder by the end of the year.
The next year at the same time, the thirteenth team was Parramatta who finished the regular season at eighth. They lost their qualifying final match in the first week of the finals series that year.
Year 2007 saw the New Zealand Warriors in the thirteenth spot in Round 13, but by Round 26 they had risen to fourth only to be knocked out in the second week of the finals race.
Along came 2008 and it was the Warriors again in thirteenth at the half way point of the season. They finished the year at eighth and had a dream run in the finals making it to the Preliminary final.
Parramatta, 2009 grand finalists, were also sitting at thirteenth on the ladder at round 13. They finished the regular season in eighth position before progressing through the finals series to the premiership decider, falling one win shy of the ultimate prize.
As you can see, there is a pattern forming, every year over the last 6 years has seen the thirteenth team in round 13 progresses one win more every year in the finals series. After grand final runners up, there’s only one more place to go. Premiers.
At Round 12, 2010 there are a few teams vying for the coveted thirteenth position and ultimately, 2010 premiers.
To finish thirteenth on the ladder at the end of Round 13, they require:
Sitting twelfth on the ladder, a win will prevent them from moving down the ladder. The Knights will have to lose, the Bulldogs to win and the Cowboys to lose.
Currently thirteenth. A win will almost certainly move them to twelfth. If they win, they will need Newcastle to win as well. A Bulldogs loss, along with a Cowboys and Sharks loss will ensure they stay in thirteenth.
Placed fourteenth. If the Cowboys win and Bulldogs lose, then, aside from for and against differences with Newcastle if they lose and Cronulla if they win by 80 points, then the Cowboys will be in the coveted thirteenth.
The Sharks are fifteenth on the ladder, but a win this week, along with losses by the Cowboys and Bulldogs will see the Sharks rise to thirteenth position, unless Newcastle lose by 50 and the Sharks win by 50.
Now before anyone laughs too heartily at this prospect, keep in mind there is only 2 wins difference between second last and eighth.
Prior to 2006, only one side placed thirteenth after Round 13 has made it to the top 8, that being Brisbane in 1999 who finished eighth.
The fortunes of the thirteenth team in round thirteen have changed, dramatically, for the better over the past five years.
So don’t waste your time looking at the teams sitting at the top of the ladder. This year your premiership winning team will be sitting at thirteenth on the ladder on Tuesday June 8.