Shorten the sea­son

Isis Town and Country - - Opinion -

WITH the suc­cess of this year’s Four Na­tions Rugby League, I hope the NRL will look at long over­due re­form of the sea­son’s struc­ture. In short, the home and away sea­son is too long. If the world leader for av­er­age foot­ball at­ten­dances, the NFL judges eight home games as ideal, why are we play­ing 12? Our Amer­i­can cousins obey the laws of sup­ply and de­mand, and their sta­di­ums are full. We ig­nore them and our grounds are half empty. TV, both free to air and pay, seems to be one of the

❝ Con­cerned par­ent If any­one knows where th­ese chil­dren are, please no­tify the au­thor­i­ties.

bar­ri­ers to progress, though why this is so re­mains a mys­tery. TV ex­ec­u­tives have favoured quan­tity over qual­ity and their rat­ings are de­clin­ing. And our play­ers, par­tic­u­larly the stars, are suf­fer­ing from burnout. Good ideas like the In­dige­nous All Stars game and the Auck­land Nines are sim­ply added (or sub­tracted) from an al­ready crowded sea­son. Some­thing has to give, and it’s usu­ally the play­ers’ health and fit­ness. If the club rounds were

short­ened dras­ti­cally, there would be more room for high-qual­ity and high-rat­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tive games. Imag­ine a 17-team NRL – eight home games, eight away and one fair dinkum bye. Ev­ery team plays each other once, home games ro­tate bian­nu­ally. Nine weeks slashed off the sea­son. Po­ten­tial to in­crease to 19 teams in fu­ture with only two ad­di­tional rounds. What could be done with the ad­di­tional time? All Stars game ev­ery year or even ex­panded to a tri-se­ries with Bri­tish/Euro­pean and Pa­cific her­itage teams in­cluded. State of Ori­gin re­mains on Wed­nes­days but stands alone from club com­pe­ti­tion, with the week­ends filled by New Zealand Ori­gin se­ries and Pa­cific na­tion tests. A South Pa­cific knock­out

se­ries com­pris­ing NSW, Queens­land, Auck­land, Com­bined Prov­inces (NZ), PNG, Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. Ah well, I can dream!

Peter Wil­liams, Ap­ple Tree Creek

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